Welcome to West of Loathing, the totally serious, hardcore, deep-minded, no-nonsense, Western-themed RPG by Asymmetric, makers of Kingdom of Loathing which is in the same vein. West of Loathing is none of those things save for being Western-themed & a RPG. West of Loathing, same as Kingdom is filled to the brim with absurdity, references, meat, booze, charm, jokes, moxie, etc. too many things to list in fact. While set in the same Kingdom universe, it is a stand alone affair, so have no fear jumping right in into the wackiness as one can easily pick up on it & find enjoyment out of it.
This being an RPG, as per RPG traditions, you are set off with the choice from 2 highly customizable stick figures afterwards your choice of class. You’ve got the Cowpuncher, master of punching… cows, or whatever stands in your way really. The Beanslinger, knowledgeable in the arts of the musical fruit, be it slinging of spells or the conjuring of protein rich golems to fight by your side. Finally, the Snake Oiler, having the fastest hands in the West, enough so that they can milk snakes before even they know it & use their poisons for damage or creating beneficial healing potions… or they can simply shoot things dead better than the Cowpuncher or Beanslinger.
Once you are done with the deep character customization, honestly I couldn’t decide between black or black for my hair color, & picking your character class you are set lose upon the world. Boring Springs is where you will get introduced to what the game has to offer, as it is the tutorial town. In here the game is quick to teach you through action what awaits you past this tiny town. In this town as well is where you will find your pardner (you are free to go solo) & buy from your choice of 4 models of horses, after finding them of course,
Now that you’ve got your choice model of horse & pardner, now all you’ve need is places to go, well West of Loathing definitely has those. It is as simple as picking a already revealed location & going there or simply wander about until one gets revealed by your elf eyes. The places you will go are wacky & varied as they come. Some might be connected to each other by the way of big quest line other are just there for simple reasons, being it a simple or a reference of some kind. Occasionally, you wandering to & fro will pop up random events, this range from combat to simply helping somebody, etc.
Dealing with nefarious clowns, evil cows, necromancers or more involves turn-based combat, though clever thinking will reveal passive ways in some occasions. Each turn you have your choice of actions to pick from. Special attacks, buffs, debuffs, summoning, etc. this use a finite amount of Action Points & oftentimes do not end your turn so you can freely stack away. Sadly on Normal difficulty, this exposes how rather easy & OP you can become, there is an optional Hard mode that you can find in the Boring Springs tutorial area. To further bolster your defenses & stats, you’ve got your choices of wacky as sin equips. Boots, guns, chaps (none of the ass less variety as far as I am aware), & the ever ubiquitous & highly important hats this all gives increases or decreases to your Moxie, Mysticism & Muscle which correlate to Agility, Magic & Strength.
After all said & done, combats rewards XP. This is not a traditional level up game, instead you use this XP as currency to buy & level up your combat skills, miscellaneous skills & stats. This opens up a fair degree of customization as even within classes one can develop in a few ways. Beanslingers, my choice of class for my playthrough, can focus on slingin’ otherworldly beans spells or summoning a mighty Bean Golem & let them take care of things while you sit back & buff/debuff. This game definitely has a lot when it comes to choices.
Now comes the part where I talk about the best part of the game, the lore. Set after a cataclysmic event called ‘The Day the Cows Came Home’, when portals to Hell opened up & released hellish cows to unleash hell upon the West. It all falls on you to save the West, but first how ’bout helping me do this largely inconsequential, convoluted tasks that may or may not help you on getting that 1 item for that other possibly not even related task? The writing in West of Loathing is amazing, as I’ve mentioned a few times, this game has its jokes & references, some as subtle as the gentle caress of an angry walrus & others as in your face as a bureaucratic ghost. Don’t expect anything serious out of this game & the game will have none to give, just sit back & enjoy the top notch writing.
Much like the writing, the music is up there as well. A lot of it is fitting to the Western theme of course, simple instrumentals & whatnot but there are a few that pump it up, like a certain cult’s choice (10/10 beat) & even a little musical nod to a certain bounty hunter. All in all, music fits with the whole wackyness of the Loathing universe. Art direction would make Picasso cry out his eyes, bold choice of colors & technique make this photorealistic experience just a overall pleasant experience.
In any case, West of Loathing is a must buy game even if my review might not do it justice. Easy going, comedic to the brim, nice music, amazing art, etc. There is so much to get out of it for a measly 10$US it would be shame to miss out on something great, hilarious & full of wholesome family fun.
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