When I sampled World to the West at EGX Rezzed this year, I found it to be a pretty, Zelda-inspired adventure that was pleasant enough, but not much more. As the wisest folks always say: “Don’t judge a book by its reader” and how right they truly are, chums, for World to the West is, in actuality, a charming adventure full of wonderful characters and rewarding exploration.
As you progress, you’ll find yourself taking in rugged deserts, cool blue waters, icy mountains, evergreen forests, a lavish village that houses the hilarious “Affluent Society” (the game pokes fun at the pompousness of the higher classes splendidly) and many more small settlements and habitats. You’ll also find yourself spending a great deal of time puzzle solving and adventuring in the vast underground network of passages and rivers. These pretty much double the size of the already generous map, so you’ll be glad to hear that totem poles scattered across the world act as fast travel points.
Going back to an earlier area with a new power will make you feel immortal, though, as you rip through a previously unreachable destination...
“What kind of puzzle solving and combat can I expect to encounter throughout my adventure?” I hear thee ask. Well, the puzzle solving takes on various forms; some require you to switch between all four characters to unlock an area, taking it in turns to figure out which character is built for each part, whilst others offer more basic puzzles such as getting a key, breaking down a barrier, etc. that require the ability of just one of your band of merry chums. On the whole, the puzzles are great fun to solve, although some will frustrate with their long-winded nature - spending hours searching for stone tablets might irk some folks, but we actually rather enjoyed it!
Going back to an earlier area with a new power will make you feel immortal, though, as you rip through a previously unreachable destination. Add to that the “eureka” moments that accompany many of the puzzles (often leading into an equally rewarding boss fight/new area to explore), and there’s a lot of fun to be had here.
Combat, however, can unfortunately be a little hit-and-miss. This is largely due to Lord Clonington providing so much joy with his bashing and smashing, that the others don’t quite carry the same fun factor. Knaus’ dynamite hitting in the second half of the game can be good fun, as can Lumina’s bolts of electric, but they both suffer dodgy aiming issues. We died many, many times trying to defeat both character’s bosses, and felt that the balance was tipped towards the AI because of these accuracy foibles.
The soundtrack is worth its own commendation, with the sublime underground exploration theme being a particular treat. An army of instruments sway from sleepy harps to acoustic guitars, whistles, flutes, drums and horns. The Lynchian 50s electric guitar that features on one number is a particular favourite here at PTC. Regardless of where you are in the game world, WTTW’s music and sound effects not only work, but excel at injecting emotion into the experience.
In summary, World to the West is an absorbing, delightful adventure that will appeal to many, not just genre enthusiasts. It’s perfect for those looking for a rich world to immerse themselves in, but not the associated time sink of 50 plus hours. A colourful, handsome visual veneer contains a fun, silly story, hilarious characters (play through Clonington’s Affluent Society trials for drink-out-the-nostrils laughter), lovely music, grand puzzles and a world of exploration that begs to be revisited. This game is a steal at £19.99 - in spite of a few minor bugs and issues (fingers crossed for a patch) - so don’t be foolish enough to let it pass you by!
If World to the West sounds like your thing, enter our giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a copy on Steam.