Game Review: World to the West (Switch)

Game Review: World to the West (Switch)

How do you make a successful follow up to a super popular indie title like Teslagrad, you ask? Well, that’s precisely what the people over at Rain Games had to figure out when they embarked on bringing World to the West to Switch owners. It turns out that if you take Teslagrad’s Euro-themed art style, give the player some options and a workable map, you’re off to a nice start.

However, Rain Games went a step further with this new, top down puzzle-adventure that has you looking to uncover the mysteries of an ancient prophecy. Now you have four characters, each with unique abilities, to go adventuring with, charming writing and gameplay that doesn’t feel cumbersome with its difficulty. On surface level, it’s a recipe for success as it’s recently earned Rain Games four awards at a Norwegian gaming awards show. However, at various points, this game feels very different from it’s predecessor.

You’ll be on the hunt for keys of a specific shape to get to the next area. Some keys will be easier than others to track down but this is the core of the game. Basic adventuring stuff.

You start out playing as young heroine Lumina Teslamancer who enters a tower, finds a teleporter and gets herself in a bit of trouble. Along the way, you also end up playing as Knaus the Orphan, Miss Teri the Mind Bender and Lord Clonington, the heroic mustache man of arms. Each character comes with their own abilities and motivations to go along with some interweaving storylines. You’ll end up traveling through different areas and terrain, using multiple characters to unlock the secrets of prophecies and ancient civilizations. But what makes it different than Teslagrad?

Compared to the map in Teslagrad, the map in WTTW is a dream. This map is actually a functional help for you on your travels and the art style used for it is pretty awesome too.

For starters, World to the West isn’t mindbogglingly difficult. It’s not an easy game and you’ll spend 30 minutes wandering into an area only to realize that you needed a different character to unlock the next area, but it never frustrated me the way Teslagrad did. It’s not always straight-forward with directions either. But it’s challenging in a way I enjoyed, sort of. It reminded me a little of 64-bit era games that gave you a level to explore and gave you the keys. Instructions are minimal and you really have to figure it out on your own.

In World to the West, your heroes’ finest ability is their punctuality! Rain Games really did a great job with the writing in this game. There’s some snark here and there that gets a laugh.

Lets talk about those four characters for a second. If you want to use one throughout the level, you must first reach a totem pole-thingy that will give you access to choosing which character you intend to use. Different characters are required to unlock various areas, so you’ll find yourself heading back to this totem multiple times during your play-through. Not being able to take all four characters to checkpoints with you at once can drive you a little mad but the abilities of said characters are intriguing and you’ll also find some Teslagrad-themed gameplay elements throughout the game.

If you’re here for the existential questions, this game has you covered. Also, here’s the totem pole thingy that lets you switch between characters. Tracking these down is definitely a priority.

The biggest difference between the two Rain Games titles, however, is that after a few hours of play, World to the West gets a little bland and stale. The music is solid, the writing is charming and it’s nice to be able to pick between heroes to go adventuring with. But it lacked something that made me want to pick it up and play it again and again. Teslagrad was annoyingly difficult but provided a persistent challenge that made me want to accomplish something. WTTW just doesn’t have the punch I was expecting it to have. It’s not a bad game by any means. It just doesn’t sink its teeth into you and force you to play it.

The Good:

Four characters to play with
Lovely art style
Quality tunes

The Bad:

Fairly vanilla
Confusing at times

Final Thoughts:

I’m not sure what I was expecting initially when I fired up WTTW. It feels like Teslagrad. It looks like Teslagrad. But it’s a very different experience. Is it a better experience? Hard to say, really. WTTW doesn’t change anything from similar games in its genre. It’s not going to change the future of the puzzle-adventure games and that’s okay. My biggest takeaway, however, is that the Switch is full of indie games right now that offer something new or different or crazy fun. World to the West doesn’t tick a lot of those boxes for me, unfortunately. Having said that, the game hits the eShop on Jan. 18 at a $19.99 price point and if you enjoyed Teslagrad, this is probably a must-play for you.

Soup Verdict:

Basic, store bought chicken noodle. No need for any leftovers.

Review code for this title provided by Rain Games.