There is a lot that can make an indie game stand out. It can be tackling an underrepresented genre that is scarcely seen in more mainstream games. It can be having a unique art style that makes the look and feel of the game stand out among others. West of Loathing does that and more. It is not only a western RPG, but one with a very unique art style and a comedic tone. This makes it very difficult to find anything else to compare it to, but it stands out among everything comparable.
The Role You Play
You play as a yet-to-be-named explorer beginning their journey to head west. You have the option to pick from one of three different classes: Cow Puncher, Beanslinger and Snake Oiler. Each class comes with its own abilities that you can improve as you gain experience. you spend your experience like a currency to improve each attribute at your own discretion.
You can also recruit a ‘pardner’ to assist you along the way. Each one has their own preset equipment and abilities, but you have full control over them during battle.
The plot of West of Loathing is all over the place. There is a subplot about a cult of necromancers, something about strange alien technologogy and a bit about evil cows. None of it ever really adds up to much. While the game is meant to be comedic and nonsensical, you are just thrown from one random plot point to the next. There never really seems to be a coherent narrative or actual goal in the game.
There are plenty of aspects to the gameplay in West of Loathing. Most of it centers around the quests you do. There are plenty of places to explore and each new location brings a new way to interact with the scenery and the characters in it. The comedic theme of the game keeps every interaction strange and unpredictable.
The other main aspect of the gameplay is the combat. The combat is turn-based. You and your ‘pardner’ can use different weapons and skills against the enemies you encounter. Before you attack, you can also use items to deal damage, heal or buff your stats. There is no limit to the number of items you can use per turn, and they can be an absolute lifesaver in a tough battle.
There are a lot of different areas to visit in West of Loathing. You have the option to just explore the open map which can lead to discovering plenty of new and interesting locations. Each one can set up a new mission or help to complete one you’ve already started. There is no strict obligation to complete a lot of the quests, but it can lead to new weapons, armor, money or experience. As far as the main quest goes, it can take roughly 10-12 hours to complete.
The soundtrack to West of Loathing does an excellent job of creating the kind of ambiance you would expect from a western game. It definitely has the appropriate 1850s-style instrumentation with a tone to match all of the settings. There is a nice laid-back tone in all of the towns. It gets a bit more up-tempo when you are exploring the desert or in one of the caves. It also gets a bit spooky when you are in a graveyard or the den of a necromancer. The music is pretty much exactly what you would expect and fits pretty much perfectly with the game.
What stands out about West of Loathing is the rudimentary art style with the sense of humor to match. There are too many ridiculous moments in this game to name, but they are hilarious in a way that sticks with you. One particular example is near the beginning of the game when you can learn from the book of stupid walking. If you choose to have it enabled, your character will walk in a variety of silly ways, ranging from crawling to cartwheeling to butt dragging just to name a few.
The Talking Parts
There are a lot of strange and bizarre moments in West of Loathing. This leads to a lot of different interactions with everyone and everything in the game, living and non-living. In addition to the usual citizens you would expect to find in a western setting, you can also interact with angry cows, necromancers, ghosts and forgotten pieces of alien technology.
However, the most intricate and detailed interactions you have are with the spitoons. You can search through the disgusting contents of the spittoons in search of treasure. As you search, the descriptions of your actions and what you are searching through are excessively detailed to a disgustingly hilarious extent.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
West of Loathing is the follow-up to a free-to-play browser-based game called The Kingdom of Loathing. Both games were made by the same studio, Asymmetric, and it is where the art style and sense of humor for West of Loathing originate from. The main difference between the two, aside from the sales platforms, is the genre, with one being a fantasy game and the other being a western. With a franchise that can be adapted to two different genres, it seems like it has the potential for different games in the future.
West of Loathing is a very silly take on a Western RPG. It is filled with tons of strange moments and plenty of unpredictable scenarios that are hilarious and unforgettable. It is an experience that will satisfy anyone looking for a western, a comedy game, an RPG, or any combination of the three. I absolutely recommend it.