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