Many modern titles have taken inspiration from the Zelda classics of old, however, Rain Games’ newest title World to the West takes it to another level. The basic game design principles of titles like Link’s Awakening and A Link to the Past are the pillars of World to the West’s own design, and it fits well. However, new gameplay elements have been introduced as well in order to carve it’s own path in the genre.
World to the West tells the story of four unlikely protagonists that cross paths and team up for their own personal reasons. Without giving away any of the details, the team consists of a teslamancer who uses electricity to move and attack, a miner who can dig underground, an adventurer who can control the mind of enemies, and a beefy pugilist that excels at combat. The game does a nice job of introducing each character during the game’s introduction, however, some of their motives remain unclear until later on. The writing is also bound to produce a few laughs here and there as it can be witty at times.
One of the more unique aspects of the game is its presentation. Each environment is colorful and interesting to look at, and the character models are no slouch either. Characters look unique and well thought out, and it’s clear that a lot of love was put into them from a design standpoint. The music here is also exceptional; a few of the themes are catchy and almost all of them do an excellent job of bringing the environment to life.
Even though World to the West tells a linear story, the world itself is open. Similar to classic Zelda titles, more and more of the map becomes available once new abilities are acquired. The overworld is filled with dungeons, each of them containing their own sort of puzzles that need to be solved. The puzzle solving is undoubtedly the best part of the game, as almost all of them are tricky without ever being frustrating. Rain Games has struck the perfect balance between puzzles requiring thought while still being doable by most players. Each of the four protagonists’ abilities are used in really creative ways to solve environmental puzzles, especially when playing as the adventurer. There are some really cool puzzles that revolve around controlling the minds of enemies and using their abilities to traverse the environment.
Combat is definitely not a focus in this title, however, it does turn up frequently. It can be quite fun when playing as Clonington the Pugilist, as punches and charged attacks can be chained together to wipe the floor with most of the enemies. However, the combat is pretty bland when playing as any of the other characters. Boss fights also seem dull for the most part. The combat is definitely less frequent than the puzzle solving, but it’s still worth mentioning.
There are a few annoyances in terms of the player’s environmental hitbox as well. When falling off some of the edges, the character will repeatedly respawn over the edge and take damage until they die. This isn’t too bad considering that World to the West does a great job of getting the player right back into the action, however, it can still be a bit bothersome. The checkpoint system also needs a bit of work, as reaching one does not activate that checkpoint for every character. This means that once a checkpoint is reached with one hero, it has to be reached with every hero. Repetition can set in quickly during these times, however, it’s not overwhelming.
Even with its flaws, World to the West is a fun adventure game that has plenty of clever moments. The characters are enjoyable all the way through, the environments are a joy to look at, and the puzzles are a blast to solve. Each of the main characters’ unique abilities are used to their fullest potential as well, meaning that there is plenty of enjoyment to be had with each one. It’s just a shame that the combat is only fun with one of them. Fans of classic Zelda titles will not be disappointed, however, as this world is certainly worth exploring.