Monday, January 15

Review: World to the West [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Those with an adventurous spirit and a taste for indie titles have have some reasonably good successes so far on the Switch. The stand-out titles Ittle Dew 2+ and Blossom Tales have each provided very different takes on the Link to the Past top-down adventure formula. Rain Games’ World to the West is now throwing its own hat into the ring, providing another variation with 4 characters to control and each with their own unique set of skills. Conceptually playing as a sort of hybrid of a classic Zelda title and Lost Vikings, it will challenge you with a variety of puzzles over its runtime that require coordinated cooperation.

On this journey you’ll alternative take command of Lumina the Teslamancer (as a Teslagrad fan this was a cool touch) with the power to teleport and shock, the diminutive Knaus who can burrow under things and skate over ice among other things, the mind-controlling Teri who can command animals and traverse gaps with her whip-like scarf, and Lord Clonington the strongman who bash foes and climb certain walls. Over roughly the first half of the game you’ll be slowly introduced to each of them and roughly taken through the paces to ensure you have a grasp of their abilities and their use. The game then transitions into a space where you’ll need to make careful use of each character in turn as they make their way through the adventure.

Though there’s certainly some action in the game for the most part it is focused on both exploration and puzzle-solving. That’s why being oriented with each character is so important in the beginning so that you’ll immediately be able to identify which characters will be suited to getting by certain scenarios and obstacles. One part of the challenge will typically be moving each character through the landscape and to a totem pole in the vicinity of the challenge. These are used to quickly change characters and to move around the map, but characters can only access totem poles they’ve already visited. Thankfully to help minimize the pain of covering the same ground a few times there are often opportunities in the landscape suited to the skills of individual party members.

Aside from the sometimes tedious task of moving each of your characters into position there are times where you may feel like you can accomplish a given task with the wrong character. For the most part it is clear who is best suited to getting into a certain area but in particular when what you need is a chain of characters’ actions to successfully solve a puzzle you’ll need to be sure to work through things carefully to avoid needless backtracking to switch around. Totem poles are generally placed well to avoid this but with so many means of moving around per character it sometimes isn’t hard to get a bit lost and the map is too zoomed out to be much help when this happens. A small point but worth noting since they can be aggravating.

Overall while its pacing can and excitement can wane at times World to the West is an engaging and creative take on the top-down adventure. There are some very unique and inventive puzzles to solve, light combat sequences peppered about, and plain satisfying gameplay when it all comes together. If you’ve been looking for your next adventure fix World to the West is a trip worth taking.

Score: 7.5

  • Four characters of varied abilities keep things fresh
  • Some satisfying puzzles that require coordination to solve
  • A colorful art style
  • There are times where what you need to do next isn't necessarily clear
  • Covering the same ground multiple times can get tedious while trying to get everyone in place

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