World To The West is a beautiful top down action puzzler that is absolutely worth your time. Set in the same universe as their 2013 indie hit, Teslagrad, Rain Games have improved on all the features that made Teslagrad so great. The switch to 3D doesn't hurt the clever puzzles and great world design. The music is perfect, each character has their own personality and motivations, and the light tone makes the game a lot of fun. The puzzles hit a nice balance between too difficult and too challenging. I was never overly frustrated and most solutions were in front of me the whole time. World To The West does have some minor faults, but not enough to derail your experience. The controls are occasionally vexing and the characters feel hard to control, but it was never enough to make me stop playing.
World To The West is available for PC on Steam for $19.99
World To The West switches between four characters: Lumina, Knaus, Lord Clonington, and Miss Teri. Each character is searching for mysterious artifacts from a forgotten ancient civilization and must occasionally work together. The four are linked by an old woman proclaiming ancient prophecy foretelling that the four of them will break the mysterious curse on the land. What this curse is requires you to pay attention, a lot of the story isn't told and you have to pay attention to signs you read and the environment around to to truly understand what's going on.
Each character has their own skills and personal motivation for finding these artifacts, and part of the charm of World To The West is figuring out which character is needed to solve the puzzle. Lumina has been accidentally teleported to this land and is trying to fix the teleporter so she can return home. Knaus is an orphan boy searching for a way to free the rest of the orphans forced to work all day in a mine. Miss Teri is a mercenary just out for the paycheck. Lord Clonington is trying to gain entry into the Affluent Society by slaying a massive monster.
All four characters are charming and often times humorous. Knaus' boyish wonder, Teri's can-do attitude, Lord Clonington's idiocy, and Lumina's simple desire to go home, draw you in and make you care about each character. Their dialogue usually drew a small chuckle. Lord Clonington steals the show by far. His enthusiasm, boisterous nature, and (often times) idiotic observations were the highlight of my playthrough. World To The West successfully creates a solid story and interweaves the characters into it nicely.
World To The West describes itself as an action puzzler, and while there is some action, puzzles are much more emphasized. The action doesn't consist of much more than hitting the enemy in front of you and the occasional boss battle. You will spend most of your time completing small puzzles, which mainly consist of crossing from point A to point B or finding a key to continue to the next area. Fortunately these puzzles are varied enough that they don't become tedious or a chore.
Each character has their own skill that can complete certain puzzles. Knaus can dig underground with his shovel and avoid enemies and go underneath rocks that block his path. Lumina can teleport forward a few feet and use an electric blast to activate switches and repel enemies. Miss Teri uses her scarf to vault small distances and can mind control animals to solve puzzles. Finally, Lord Clonington can smash things. He does most of the action since he can punch enemies and barrel through barriers. All characters are fun to play as, but Lord Clonington is by far the best. His overconfidence and boisterous nature is charming and I was most drawn in to his story.
Sadly, a lot of these skills I had to figure out by trial and error. There's not much by way of a tutorial. For instance, the game tells you that pressing Q will use Teri's scarf to mind control enemies. But it doesn't tell you that pressing E will end the mind control and switch back to Teri. Or that each animal has its own skill that's needed to solve puzzles, like how squirrels can jump great distances. I felt really bad making each animal commit suicide once it'd serve it's purpose until I accidentally figured out how to switch back. Those poor squirrels..
Each character changes your play style as well. For instance, Knaus is the stealth character. Being a small boy armed only with a shovel, he can't fight the various monsters he encounters. So you have to play stealthily and avoid conflict. Although it seems a little dumb that his shovel can't only stun enemies. If you hit something with a shovel enough, that should do the trick. Lord Clonington is the opposite. You have to punch your way through the monsters he encounters. This constant change in play style keeps the game interesting and it never felt stale.
You switch between characters at totem poles which are scattered throughout the world. You can teleport between totems your character has visited and totems also restore health. Irritatingly though, you can only teleport to a totem if that character has visited. So when Lumina discovers a new totem pole, she can teleport to and from it but not any other characters. This led to some unnecessary backtracking and repeating areas I'd already traversed with a different character.
There are some minor issues to the gameplay. The controls occasionally become frustrating. A lot of times that character responds slowly to your command. For instance, Q is the attack button for Lumina, but for some reason it takes her too long to actually execute the attack. This was especially frustrating during a boss battle that required perfect timing. Also, the characters felt difficult to control. Too much of my playthrough was having to walk back up a hill or stairs after my character had gone too far and fallen off. Also, you won't teleport to the correct spot unless you're facing the exact right way. It was super frustrating when my character was apparently facing a tiny bit to the right of where I wanted to go and teleport to my death. Lastly, there should absolutely be a jump button. The only way to jump down is to move your mouse over the ledge, Then you have to watch the character churn his feet for a few seconds before finally deigning to leap down. Fortunately, these issues weren't enough to make me want to stop playing and didn't derail my overall experience.
Graphics and Sound
World To The West is a beautiful game. It has vibrant colors and almost leaps off your screen. The frozen tundras, jungles, and ancient temples are well designed. The camera occasionally pans out so you can see the scope of the temple you're about to enter or mountain you're about to traverse. The characters aren't voiced but make little sounds of exertion or a reaction to something.
The soundtrack is fantastic. Each area has its own bit of music that loops as you try and complete the puzzle. The evil tycoon's room has a great percussive theme whenever you enter. Lord Clonington's entrance music is wonderful. I fully recommend purchasing the music from World To The West.
For the most part, I experienced no technical issues. I lost my first save file, which was a tad bit irritating, but the game only crashed once. There were no long loading times, glitches, or a massive drop in frame rates and I played on a standard PC.
World To The West is a fantastic indie game and I fully recommend it. The puzzles are enjoyable and there's enough variation to keep you entertained. The characters are unique and fun to play as. The story is interesting and immersive. The world is gorgeous and the music is a great background while you solve puzzles. There's enough action to serve as a nice break from puzzle solving. There are some minor control issues that can be vexing, but it's never enough to make you quit playing. World To The West is an experience that's well worth your time.
|+ Engaging puzzles||– Characters are hard to control sometimes|
|+ Great soundtrack||– Unnecessary backtracking|
|+ Interesting characters|