What happens if you take the legends of the American West, mix in some comedy, and tie it all together with a simple doodle in the margin of your school notebook? Well, you get West of Loathing. At first glance, you might not think much of the game. Its simple look may make you feel like a cheap experience is ahead. However, you’d be missing out on one of the funniest games out there. West of Loathing is a delight from start to finish.
West of Loathing is a follow-up to the successful browser-based game Kingdom of Loathing. That game was a stick figure fantasy adventure that focused on absurdity and jokes to make up for its lack of graphical depth. West of Loathing follows a similar path, where you take on the role of a bored adventurer who takes off West to make a fortune in a turn-based adventure. Of course, your adventure isn’t as easy as you thought, not since a major disaster struck the West: the Day the Cows Came Home. Portals to hell opened up and turned all the cows into demonic creatures. Now the West is in darkness, and only you can save it.
From the fairly silly premise above, you can tell right away that this game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s the point. West of Loathing adds jokes, on jokes, on jokes; making what at first might seem like a cliche Western story into a hilarious adventure. It should be noted right off how funny the game is. West of Loathing is very well aware it’s a game, so when it makes you do hilariously random things, the writing makes you aware that the developers know how ridiculous it is. West of Loathing is a unique game in that the humor doesn’t get old. Most comedy games have that moment when the jokes go flat because you’ve heard some variation of that joke for the 100th time. West of Loathing never runs into that problem, always keeping new jokes coming throughout my playthrough.
Combat is another thing West of Loathing does incredibly well at. Its turn-based combat is extremely simple, and understanding how a battle shapes up happens within the first few turns. You collect items throughout your adventure, which come in handy during combat. Perhaps you need a stick of dynamite to blow up enemies. Maybe you’ve taken too many beatings and need to refresh your health. All of these items with their own unique abilities help keep combat fresh, even in later battles. Balance is needed, however, you can’t use everything up at once, or else you’ll be in trouble in your next battle. It should also be noted how well this game plays on the Nintendo Switch. Its shorter battles make it a great pick-up and play game, while also being a game with enough depth to keep you playing for hours. Yes, this game is not a graphical powerhouse, so it runs extremely well on Nintendo Switch in both docked and handheld modes. If you’re considering getting this game, I would totally recommend the Switch version.
West of Loathing does suffer from some annoying “puzzles.” One such example is in the ghost town, aptly named Ghost Town, a town…well, full of ghosts. The ghosts in this town love bureaucracy, needing you to receive written permission to do anything. At first, I found this to be funny, but the “puzzle” got annoying quickly. I needed to talk to the right people at the right time and in the right order to “solve” the puzzle, only then to be sent on a trip where I had to talk to another set of people in the right order. While I’m sure some gamers will find this amusing, after a short period it got annoying for me. To be fair, this isn’t the only example in the game of puzzles that got annoying really quickly because it didn’t help you figure out how to solve the puzzle. By no means is this a deal-breaker for West of Loathing, the game still shines as a must play for people looking for a good game to laugh through. That said, the puzzles could have been a little easier to figure out.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 10th August 2017 (PC), 31st May 2018 (Nintendo Switch)