Review: West of Loathing (PC)

Go West, young stick figure.

Overview

Developer Asymmetric
Publisher Asymmetric
Genre Indie, RPG, Adventure
Platforms PC, Xbox, PS4, Switch
Release Date Aug. 10,2017

Content Guide

Spiritual Content

There are cultists and necromancy in this game. It’s very lighthearted and not graphic or very specific, but if any sort of dark arts bothers you, steer clear.

Violence

There’s some RPG-style fighting but it’s all cartoon-ish and between stick figures so there’s no blood or gore.

Alcohol/Drug Use

There are references to alcohol since it’s the Wild West but not anything else.

Review

Somewhere between the Wild West and utter nonsense lies West of Loathing, an adventure RPG game that thrusts into the stick figure edition of the Wild West. Created by the minds behind Kingdom of Loathing, a still-running free online adventure RPG, West of Loathing is full-fledged, polished, and hilarious experience that’s truly unlike anything I’ve seen before. I have sunk at least 40 hours into a game designed to finish in 3 and I don’t regret a single one of them. Upon pulling it up again to write this review, I within seconds remembered it’s hilarity and wit and absolutely none of it has become dull and dry to me yet, even after 3 years.

The majority of West of Loathing is a blend between text-based story-telling and dialogue, menus full of your inventory, stats, and skills, and a 2D stick figure Wild West to explore. While the visuals appear incredibly simple and almost child-ish, there, my friends, is where the genius lies. Amidst West of Loathing’s unassuming and simple veneer is a rich, wonderful, and creative world to discover where even on your tenth playthrough, the writing hasn’t lost its charm.

West of Loathing will take you out West, but stick-figure style.

You start out your adventure with nothing to the name of your choosing other than a mission to go out West. Story goes that the cows came home, which has brought destruction and mayhem to the already wild west, and after you say goodbye to your family and pick your class, you’re off on your adventure. 

Since West of Loathing is an RPG at its heart, your class determines quite a bit such as your fighting style, skill points, and even some dialogue options. You can play through the game in a whole myriad of ways but they will be heavily determined by whether you’re a snake oiler, bean slinger, or cow puncher. These translate to ranged, magic, or melee fighting and character styles and just the names alone can give you a sense of the humor you’re walking into. Being a snake oiler has you going around shooting things, bean slingers will be crafting potions and spells, and cow punching will have you doing exactly that- a lot of punching cows. There is a good deal of combat in West of Loathing which is all turn-based and allows you take all kinds of different actions, use inventory, and manage your action points each turn. Your class determines what you’re equipped with first and what your stats are at the beginning, but you will definitely stumble upon all kinds of different loot, weapons, potions, and items along the way that will mix up the combat over time. 

Your class determines your fighting style and how you’ll tackle all the enemies- cows, snakes and varmints alike.

The main storyline of West of Loathing will have you following the train track that can’t seem to make it five feet without another set of problems. You’ll pick your partner- which can be anyone from a drunk doctor to a wacky old guy to a literal goblin- and you and them will be tasked with fixing whatever problem the railroad’s facing. These quests and problems have you meeting all sorts of colorful characters, entering bizarre settings, and following all sorts of weird rabbit holes until you find the perfect solution. 

Since there’s so many ways to play the game, there’s an equal amount of ways to solve the railroad’s problems, which helps the game feel variable even though it can be pretty linear. Sure, you can rush right to the end and solve everything as quickly as possible but this is not the game to rush through- at all. Every single time I’ve played through West of Loathing, I’m absolutely wrecked when I get to the end. Not because it’s sad itself but because I’m so upset that it’s over. So do not under any circumstances rush through this game. Take every back way, explore every avenue, talk to every person, stick your hands in every spittoon because you will not regret a second of it- if you have a lively sense of humor, that is.

The random dialogue encounters and options give plenty of opportunities for the game to flew it’s clever and subtle humor.

The writing is the backbone and main selling point of West of Loathing. It’s hilarious, but not just funny in a dumb or silly way, but in a memorable and clever way. The game is always playing with something- you, the story, a trope, the stereotypes of adventure games, or the Wild West in general. You’ll be having a bizarre conversation with a random woman about jogging while on your way to do 15 bureaucratic tasks for the literal ghost town so they’ll just sign a form for you. You’ll gain random skills and stats by poking cacti too many times or always cheating in poker or discover some secret way to pass that mission by having a side conversation with a wacky-looking man at the bar at the edge of town. You’ll meet insanely creepy clowns, learn the nonsensical rules of poker, or discover the secrets of aliens, necromancy, or heck, why not both?

The story you’ll discover is all over but also incredible, as you dart into a haunted pickle factory without any questions asked, or strike up conversations with carnival goblins because why not? The sheer amount of creativity and thoughtfulness that went into every inch of this game’s story, world, and writing is unmissable. And so much of that wasn’t even from what I just played but recalled from when I sunk hours into this game years ago, showing just how memorable and captivating so much of this game’s writing is. Even in all the hours I have played, I’m certain there are pieces I’ve missed or moments I’ve not seen yet that I’m sure are hilarious.

Even though West of Loathing is officially three years old, it’s still well-supported by the developers. They recently released a DLC pack, adding an additional segment to the game while also maintaining that same level of humor, wit, and charm they’re known for. Also, they frequently add patches to the game which not only fixes issues but adds additional content, keeping the game fresher than it already is.

The story in West of Loathing takes you to wild places like a haunted pickle factory, a carnvial, and a cultist’s cave.

West of Loathing is definitely not for everyone, as with any game. If you’re not a fan of more text-based or RPG-style games, this probably isn’t the experience for you. The same thing goes if you can’t get past the stick figure graphics. However, if you’re looking for a hilarious, memorable, and unique experience in gaming, whether for just you or with a few friends watching- this is undoubtedly the game for you. It’s fairly cheap at $10.99 or $14.99 with the DLC and is darn tootin’ worth every penny pardner.

The Bottom Line

 

West of Loathing is a hilariously clever and original RPG game that will give you the best darn tootin' adventure this feller's every seen.

 

9.5

Sydney Stoddard

In love with people, words, and justice, Sydney Stoddard is a jack-of-all-trades writer out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Sydney is an English major at UNLV, studying literature, writing, and storytelling. In her spare time, you can find her meeting friends, writing about anything and everything, managing websites and advocating for anti-trafficking organizations. You can check out more of her writing at: http://sydneystoddard.com

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