World to the West is an odd game. A top down adventure game featuring four playable heroes, the game attempts to capture on the charm of games like A Link To The Past, while calling on the multiple-heroes gameplay reminiscent of Donkey Kong 64. Each character has their own unique skills that allow them to accomplish their own tasks, which ultimately leads to a combined resolution of the goal at hand. However, the way this is executed in World to the West hampers the overall enjoyment in playing this game. Which is unfortunate, because there’s certainly potential in this one.
At $20, it’s an usually shallow experience. There’s unique gameplay, to be sure, but it feels very empty compared to other games in its genre and at its price point. There’s a lot of cool ideas found in this title, but the lack of any AAA polish keeps it from feeling refined or otherwise memorable. Often, you’ll find yourself doing the same thing, or a variant of said thing, over and over again to unlock a door or reach a new area, which will then lead you to the next segment which requires much of the same. The game definitely progresses as you reach the later areas, but you never really feel compelled to keep playing as you advance.
There’s a story to be found in World to the West, but some combination of the writing, length of the game and overwhelming number of main characters keeps it from ever feeling compelling. Each character has their own motivation, and the ideas that drive these characters are really interesting. My favourite of the 4 was Clonington, a literal clone who’s trying to impress the upper crust of his society. Each character’s story is uniquely charming, but unfortunately not fleshed out enough to make you really feel anything. It gives you the feeling that the strongest part of this game’s development was the conceptual stage, as the ideas are really fun and entertaining. But as soon as they’re put into practice, they begin to feel stale and uninspired.
World to the West is a great example of a game that’s almost good. You can tell the developers really cared about what they were making, and that counts for something. This game is by no means a cheap cash-in, and it does have a lot of heart. But some combination of the game’s length and the competency of the developer’s understanding of game theory keeps this one from shining like it should. It would have been interesting to see what a larger developer could have done with this one; all of the pieces are there for it to be a great game, but it unfortunately ends up being more of a tedious experience than an enjoyable one. That’s not to say there’s not something here for a select few genre enthusiasts, but the general public will likely not end up finishing this one, even though on average it clocks in at under 10 hours of gameplay.
*Personal note: I really didn’t enjoy writing this review, because I can tell the developers really cared about what they made here, and that counts for a lot with me. With so many games out there that are just made as a quick way to make a buck, it was refreshing to see a game that clearly had some thought put into it. As I stated above, the flaws with this game were technical, not creative. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this kept the game from being entertaining or engaging, which is a cardinal sin in game design. However, I whole-heartedly believe that in a different situation, this developer, Rain Games, can create something amazing, and clearly I’m not alone in that idea. Their other game, Teslagrad, is critically acclaimed, and clearly shows that this company can succeed in the right situation.
Final Score: 2 out of 5