If you’re an indie gamer, West of Loathing was the game that stole your Fall last year. If you’re more retro and mainstream; your first encounter with it is the Switch version. While not much has changed in the port, it’s a wonderful experience on the go and ultimately one of the best RPG experiences on the console.
Final Fantasy fan? Fan of old school CRPGs? Want to laugh? Want to try something different? West of Loathing checks off all of these boxes thanks to a cool aesthetic, a solid score and some of the best writing in a video game in ages.
Centered in a fictional Wild West, you take control of a character and quickly get immersed in a wacky, but infectious story. Much like the Fallout series, it’s the stories of the characters around you that matter the most. Your ability to help them not only progresses the story but invests you completely. After about 20 minutes, you’ll care about this world just as much a Skyrim, The Wasteland or Hyrule. To do that with stick-figure visuals is a testament to the power of the story and charismatic writing.
You’ll laugh a lot in West of Loathing, too. The randomness of your comments and those of the characters is a pop culture reference bonanza, but it never feels tacked on. It’s one of the best parts of the game and speeds up what can sometimes be more reading than the average gamer wants to partake in.
Add in a wonderful character customization system based on the food and drink you digest and a deep battle system and West of Loathing has it all- a great story, gameplay that feels fun throughout, challenging if sometimes punishing difficulty and the talking point visuals.
Put it all together and even as a port that many hardcore gamers have experienced already, it’s still one of the best games on the Switch in 2018.
In the end, West of Loathing is so witty that it should have its picture next to the word in the dictionary.
Tons of Tangible Items: The food you eat and drink can have an instrumental effect on your character’s strength, allowing you to have a ton of fun with possible combinations.
Style: The stick figure art style will catch you off guard, but you’ll quickly become a fan.
Some Puzzles Are Insanely Difficult: While most of the puzzles require thought, some will cause most gamers to go batty and look for a strategy guide.
Battles Are Far More Strategic Than You Think: Just because the game looks simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you go into a battle looking to trade shots with enemies, you’re not going to enjoy your loathing in the West.
Away from the remastered Skyrim, West of Loathing is the most enjoyable RPG on the Nintendo Switch. Void of bells and whistles, it’s powered by wonderful writing and solid gameplay, creating an experience that’s all killer and no filler.
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.