Thanks to Rain Games for the review code
Title:World to The West
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 01/18/2018
Set in the same world as the Metroidvania gem Teslagrad, you take control of four characters, each on their own individual quests as they explore a vast world to uncover the secrets behind a strange prophecy.
Using a cell-shaded 3D art style, World to the West is a top-down adventure game, completely different in perspective than Teslagrad, while still retaining a very toony look. One obvious advantage it has over Teslagrad comes from the improved variety in the scenery, since in Teslagrad you were in and around a tower for the entire adventure, while in World to The West you will travel through caves, temples, ruins, fields, and more. It’s not that big of a world, but the extra variety is appreciated.
Being a top-down adventure game, World to The West plays akin to a game from The Legend of Zelda series, not unlike how Teslagrad was a tribute to the Metroidvania genre. The main gimmick of this game comes from the four playable characters, which each have their own unique abilities. The game kicks off with a girl named Lumina who gets teleported away from her home, and is a Teslamancer capable of dashing and using special powers, before shifting to Knaus, a boy who can dig underground and thus get around obstacles. He eventually meets up with Teri, a girl with a special scarf that can tame beasts and allow you to mind control them to solve puzzles, before the game shifts to Clonington, a buff muscleman that turns formerly difficult enemies into weaklings with his fists.
The first portion of the game starts off a bit linear, only giving you each character one at a time and having you go through their portion of the story, before they start to meet one another and team up. For the most part, all four characters control fine, and their unique traits do lead to some interesting puzzle solving, especially when they work together. Sometimes, thinking outside of the box will even let you get to places that you would think you could only get to later on in the adventure, (for example, I used Teri’s tame ability to ride one of the black monsters and took advantage of the small jump she performs when she disembarks from one to get to a platform with a treasure chest that wasn’t accessible with any other method at that point) which does lead to some clever bonuses if you think hard.
Sadly, there are a lot of quirks when it comes the game, mainly coming across as a title that has a lot of ambition, but doesn’t really know how to properly execute it. One of the biggest problems this game suffered from is the framerate, which tends to dip very, very often, (mostly in handheld mode, though it popped up in Docked as well) seemingly for no reason at all. Considering how it just does it whenever it feels like it, this can make the game feel a bit jarring to play, and I found it to be the most troublesome whenever I was in combat scenes with Clonington, since stable framerate is key for precise action. I also found that the linear beginning of the game was really, really dull, and didn’t pick up until the bit where Klaus meets Teri and you’re able to switch between the two.(although not on the fly, you have to go to a warp totem first to do so, which is rather annoying but is an understandable choice to limit certain characters to certain areas) The game takes a bit longer to get back to that segment of the story though, but even then, the game can feel like it’s constantly going back in terms of progression whenever it feels like it.
Likewise, even for characters not capable of combat like Knaus, everyone uses a life meter akin to those found in the Zelda series, indicated by red diamonds. Lose all your health, and you restart from the current screen, with not much in the way of penalties at all besides losing puzzle progress. There’s hidden chests and items to be found during the game too, and some of these work akin to the scrolls in Teslagrad, with collectible cards that slowly reveal the nature of the game’s story over time. It’s nothing too special, but since the other versions of the game used these as achievements, it’s nice that the Switch version has them all too.
In conclusion, World to the West is an OK adventure game. While the four characters are fun to use and they each have their own unique mechanics, there’s still some roughness around the edges with this game, mainly from the occasional slowdown, clunky mechanics and some very uninteresting sections that kick in every now and then, especially in the start of the game. This still has some good moments though and is worth a look if you’re interested in the Teslagrad universe or if you desire a new action adventure game, just don’t expect it to ramp up for quite a while. I give World to The West a 6 out of 10.