Game Review: “West of Loathing”

Taking the concept of minimalism to new heights, "West of Loathing" is a bare bones adventure that packs plenty of thrills.

West of Loathing

Publisher/Developer: Asymmetric Publications

Platform: Linux, MacOS, Windows, iOS, Steam.

Once in a while, a simple looking game can draw the most surprise from its audience.  West of Loathing is just such a game.  Set in the same universe as Asymmetric’s Kingdom of Loathing, the game sees the player’s character (all characters are stick figures in this game, just like in Kingdom) leave their family farm to make their fortune out west. West of Loathing plays like a simple but deep RPG game, with the ability to level up, gather new weapons, armor and random objects as loot, and take part in turn based combat.

A sample combat screen from in game.

The main plot involves the player making their way west to the town of Frisco, but as per RPG standards, there are tons of side quests along the way.  There are three main class choices in the game: Cow Puncher, Beanslinger, and Snake Oiler.  Cow Punchers are the melee class, Beanslinger’s fulfill the standard spellcaster class, and Snake Oilers are unique in that they are a potions class.  They are the easiest class in the game due to the perks they receive.

Your class goes a bit deeper than just deciding how your character attacks. Each class gains specific books to learn a variety of new moves, and it also determines how you should approach combat; Cow Punchers could be more aggressive, while a Beanslinger may want to spend more time constructing defenses before jumping to combat. What also affects this is your item inventory and choice of partner.  Players get a choice of partners to take with them at the beginning of the game (end of the tutorial zone) and they all level up and function differently.

Partners found in the game are:

Susie Cochrane: A woman who lost everything when the demon cows found in the game invaded (Or “Came Home” as the game likes to say).  You get her offer to come with you when you help her out.

Gary The Goblin: a curious fungal creature with an odd way of speaking.  You get his offer to come with you if you read a book on Goblintongue in the tutorial area doctors office before confronting him.

Crazy Pete: a crazy old man in the tutorial zone saloon.  He’ll offer to come with you immediately upon entering.

Doc Alice: The tutorial area doctor who’s drunk herself out of working.  She’ll offer to come with you if you pester her enough.

All partners function differently and have different main skills.  Susie does more damage to single enemies, Gary is able to create additional goblins to fight, Doc Alice can heal you (her main attack does small damage to all enemies on screen), and Pete does minor damage to enemies but can also buff the player.  Knowing your partner’s abilities is key to doing well in combat, as is finding out what levels each partner up since it’s different for each one.

Exploration is another big part of the game, since you’ll discover new places on the map pretty consistently.  This helps with side missions and finding new places to buy and sell items. You’ll also find many items while walking around, so you never know what you’ll find. Though it’s a single player experience, the number of different choices and humor involved here will have you coming back for many playthroughs,  and the music by Ryan Ike is amazing.

Grade: A-

Price: $10.99

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