West of Loathing

Great writ­ing and jokes make West of Loathing a hootin’ good time.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Chris Liv­ingston

Wel­come to the Old West, where snakes are used as whips, cat­tle are de­mon­i­cally evil, and along­side stick-fig­ure cow­boys there are gob­lins, necro­mancers and a lot of ghosts. There are ghost horses – I ride one my­self – and ghost cow­boys. There are even ghost pick­les, and they’re not the strangest food you’ll en­counter. A com­edy RPG, West of Loathing is goofy and won­der­fully writ­ten. Af­ter choos­ing from one of three classes – the mag­i­cal Beanslinger, the smooth-talk­ing Snake Oiler, or the rough-and-tum­ble Cow­puncher – you’ll mo­sey through tiny towns, gang hide­outs, and a Dave­yard (which is like a grave­yard, but only Daves are buried there). Some lo­ca­tions aren’t fully ac­ces­si­ble at first – one smells too foul to in­ves­ti­gate un­til you have an item that af­fords you stench pro­tec­tion, for ex­am­ple – so you’ll be criss­cross­ing the map and re­vis­it­ing cer­tain ar­eas re­peat­edly.

That’s fine, though, be­cause there’s lots to do and these ar­eas are al­most al­ways re­ward­ing. Flush a toi­let for an XP gain, search a haystack for a nee­dle or dig through a mine cart for a hunk of meat ore ( West of Loathing has a meat-based

econ­omy). In­sult your­self in a mir­ror to gain a com­bat buff be­cause you an­gered your­self so much. Stick­ing your nose in ev­ery cor­ner of West of Loathing isn’t just ben­e­fi­cial for im­prov­ing stats and fill­ing your in­ven­tory: this is a funny game, and you’ll want to root out ev­ery last joke be­fore you’re done.

There are branch­ing text con­ver­sa­tions with a cast of odd­ball char­ac­ters that are al­most al­ways en­ter­tain­ing, and ev­ery­thing from item de­scrip­tions to menu op­tions are fun to read. The writ­ing is sharp and clever. Where West of Loathing fal­ters is with its turn-based com­bat, which is a rel­a­tively sim­ple af­fair and hap­pens too fre­quently. At ev­ery turn you’ll meet an­gry cow­boys, hov­er­ing skulls, gi­ant snakes, ra­bid cult mem­bers, and, of course, the oc­ca­sional ghost pickle. Half­way through the game you’ll be deal­ing so much dam­age that most fights will be over with one or two shots or spells. With lit­tle chal­lenge, com­bat be­comes an un­wel­come in­ter­rup­tion to your en­joy­able trav­els.

Reach­ing for the sky

It took me about 12 hours to make it through the main story, but I played an­other dozen hours just to make sure I’d done ev­ery­thing, to un­ravel some of the RPG’s mys­ter­ies and to solve the re­main­ing puz­zles, some of which are ad­mirably elab­o­rate. I had to cre­ate a spread­sheet with for­mu­las for one and an en­ve­lope on my desk is now cov­ered with notes, codes, and the names of about two dozen dead women (which I prom­ise isn’t nearly as grim as it sounds).

West of Loathing is a won­der­fully writ­ten RPG ad­ven­ture, both fun and funny from its open­ing to when­ever it is you de­cide you’ve read ev­ery last word in the game and re­alise, re­gret­fully, that you’ve fin­ished.

This is a funny game, and you’ll want to root out ev­ery last joke

This def­i­nitely is a real town and not a fake one.

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