West of Loathing is a simple RPG, but its unique style makes it stand out. It is set in the same universe as Kingdom of Loathing, a browser-based multiplayer RPG that was popular in the early 2000s. Like its predecessor, however, West of Loathing has a stick-figure art-style and tongue-in-cheek humor. None of it is meant to be taken seriously, and for a while, the style is quite enticing.
Your goal is to find your way west. Although there is the main plotline, the majority of the game, if you choose to indulge it, is made up of a ton of side content. You’d be cutting yourself short if you just ran through the entire map, so the side content is something you’ll want to take your time with. In fact, the side content works in the same style as the main storyline and its gameplay is almost indistinguishable from the main game. Whether you’re fighting violent cows (yup) or finding odd items, the side content punches at the same weight as the main story.
Unfortunately, the entire game just starts to grow old after not too long. The main reason for this is that the RPG mechanics are exceedingly simple. You control two characters, one of which is a partner you choose at the beginning of the game. There’s very little depth to the combat system. Most of the time I would just choose the hardest-hitting weapon in each battle. There’s not much in terms of character strengths and vulnerabilities. The strategy is virtually nonexistent. As a result, though new toys do make for entertaining battles when you first obtain them, most of the fights are just sequences you try to get through.
Moreover, a lot of the battles are too easy or excessively difficult. The difficulty curve is not developed to be in tune with the character progression. I imagine this decision was made because the highlight of the game is its quirky and humorous dialogue, but it means that most of the actual RPG isn’t that great.
However, the dialogue itself is rather good for most of West of Loathing. I frequently found myself chuckling or thinking: “wow, that was clever.” There’s an inherent sarcastic and skeptical nature to the story which makes it pretty humorous throughout. The developers also manage to cram in a ton of fictional content that juxtaposes with the otherwise historical setting. Seeing cognizant members of the walking dead roaming around the western setting is unexpected and humorous to behold.
West of Loathing is a great value for its price and definitely entertaining for what it is. Unfortunately, the actual mechanics lack a lot of depth that keep it from being an experience for everyone. A deep RPG experience this is not. However, if you’re looking for a few hours to kill on a game with funny writing and creative environments, this one is for you.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. West of Loathing is already available on the Switch’s eShop for $11.