Creating a living, breathing world is an amazing thing. A world with all its rules, restrictions and rarities. From Bioshock to GTA, each writing and development team has designed every minute detail, interesting character foibles, and dynamic eco-systems, to make their world believable and unique. World to the West not only creates a new living breathing world, with fresh characters and storylines, but Rain Games also expand their Teslagrad universe, which for those who don’t know is a game they released last year. But how does it play?
World to the West is a 3D action adventure game set in a turn of the century steampunk world. You play as four unique characters who travel to a strange new world with temples, tundras and lush rainforests. You try to unlock the secrets of this world and follow the discoveries of the four characters. Each has their unique skill sets and plenty of tricks hidden up their sleeves. Lumina can teleport and use machines, Klaus the orphan can dig holes and tunnels with his spade and crawl into tiny vents. Miss Teri can control beasts with her mind and Lord Clonington can use his strength to bash everything with a hint of panache. You control all four of these characters at different times in the game, and all will help you progress to different parts of the world.
The gameplay consists of neat puzzle elements and some light combat. The puzzle sections mostly see you trying to find a way through an area; this might be by navigating a tunneling system through a series of vents, using your teleporting skill to skip from platform to platform, digging your way across areas, or even mind controlling a small fox to collect a key in order for you to open a secret door. There are many inventive puzzles and actions to complete, and the game never lets up in its inventive level progression ways.
The combat sections of World to the West are good, without being remarkable. You can stun creatures with certain characters, like the orphan and his spade, before running away fast. Other characters, like Lord Clonington, can go face to face with big bosses and all manner of foes, whilst the mind control of Miss Teri lets you control a creature before attacking other enemies with it. Like I said, the combat isn’t the highlight of World of the West and later on in the game I eventually found myself running past enemies, rather than tackling them head on.
The gameplay works very well indeed, with the right level of difficulty and the appropriate level of fun that will appeal to all ages. The simple exploration mechanics and the chance to progress through a number of ingenious puzzles is an excellent model. It feels like an old fashioned game in its execution, but also feels very modern in its tone. I did find myself getting lost quite a lot, and the quest goals can be a bit frustrating at times, but both of those problems may just be down to me and my skills. There is however a pacing issue that sees the game struggle through the middle section, mostly because the action starts to feel very familiar. The save points are also very spread out, and this saw me having to backtrack a little too much for my liking. At the end of the day though, these are small issues and overall there really isn’t much to gripe about, especially when the gameplay is so smooth and enjoyable.
Story-wise, it in itself is stimulating, with an interesting lore and complete thematic universe built upon the legacy of the first game. The characters are witty, sassy, come with some great lines and a solid, interesting premise. On the visual front the game has a lovely bright, airy feel with its crisp colours and wonderful locations. Even the underground sections burst with colour and simplicity. The art style reminds me slightly of early nineties games from the likes of LucasArts, and it’s by far the best-looking 16bit homage title I’ve played on Xbox One. The soundtrack is majestic, beautiful and atmospheric, while the effects throughout are spot on.
World to the West is really worth checking out. I enjoyed the work that Rain Games have put in and I really believe they are making interesting work that embraces the past with a modern twist. The price might be a tad high, but there’s a lot of quality clearly on show here. The world is superb, whilst the characters and story are brilliant with some very entertaining puzzles. I did struggle at times and got lost quite a bit, with some terrible save points never helping, but I think the good points of World to the West mainly outweigh the bad.
Grab yourself a good brain, a good map and prepare to explore the World to the West.