West of Loathing Review: Cowboys & Crayola

The “Wild West” is a genre that’s pretty much died out at this point. Cowboy films used to be all the rage back in the days, but got less and less popular as time went on. The genre came back to prominence for a small bit in the 90s… Until it was promptly put back in the grave by the 1999 disaster, “Wild Wild West”.

Of course, the cowboy genre only died with film. Over time, cowboys crept their way into video-games and have been there ever since. Fallout: New Vegas and the Red Dead games are the biggest cowboy games that I can think of. However, a cowboy game that most people often forget about is a spinoff of a browser-based MMO!

“Kingdom of Loathing” is one of the oldest MMORPGs in existence. It was and still is entirely browser-based and any computer can play it! The game uses simple “stick figure” drawings for its character and has a pretty basic interface. The game is also lots of fun and the developers know it!

So, what do you do when your game is popular? You create a spin-off set in the same universe, of course! That’s where “West of Loathing” comes into play. West of Loathing takes the stick-figure art-style and goofy humor of Kingdom and does something truly unique with it!

West of Loathing is a turn-based RPG, unlike Kingdom. It’s a game that plays like a cross between “Paper Mario” and “Fallout: New Vegas”. It has classical RPG trappings and uses a lot of “ability checks” when it comes to your actions, while also featuring a simplistic combat system.

If you’ve played any old-school Final Fantasy game, then you’ve played West of Loathing. Its combat system has you selecting options from a menu and then watching your hero do the attack. It’s pretty simple stuff, but the game’s writing and general aesthetic make up for it.

You see, the graphics for West of Loathing are identical to its fantasy counterpart. The game uses a unique stick-figure art-style that sticks out among the crowd! The graphics are simple and bare bones, but they get the job done and are generally very appealing.

The writing for this game is legitimately funny and had me laughing quite a bit! The characters are charming and interesting, despite their admittedly basic character designs. So much of the world pops and just works! From villains to random NPCs, the many characters of this world just inject so much fun and energy into their collective setting.

The game also has a lot of deep RPG mechanics. The game incorporates classic staples like skill checks, up-gradable party members and distinct playable classes. The ways you can interact with the world and modify your character are impressive. You can be a wizard tossing magical beans, or a warrior that punches people. Hell, you can even become a necromancer and bring back the dead!

The amount of control the game gives you over building your character is impressive. On top of that, you have a large world to explore. You’re given a map and the ability to choose to travel to any area listed on it. You’ll discover many new areas as you go through the game, most of which are well-designed and stuffed with occasional secrets.

Of course, the game does have its problems. For one thing, there isn’t a lot of direction on where to go. Heck, I beat the main quest without even realizing it! The game also doesn’t tell you what areas are appropriate for your current level. You’ll often enter dangerous areas unknowingly and get your ass instantly stomped by some kind of giant monster.

Also, it’s pretty easy to become overpowered in this game. With so many ways to build your character, it’s only natural that you’ll become unstoppable very easily. Factor in party members that are often easy to upgrade and can overpower enemies after being leveled up a few times and you have a game that gets easy fast.

Still, the game is really solid. The jokes are funny and the characters are amazing. While the combat is simplistic, it makes for it with its customization. I had so much fun with this game, despite never playing the MMO it spun off of. Consideing you can get this game for about 10-15 bucks, I recommend giving it a shot. It’s easy to pick up and play, while also allowing you to be the ultimate stick figure cowboy!

Why “Unique” Video-Games Are My Favorite

I’ve made it no secret that I love video-games, due to them helping develop my vast imagination in my younger years. While I love a good video-game, I’ll always flock to a game that’s “unique” game more. Games that feel “unique” always stick out as being my personal favorites, because they do a lot to set themselves apart from the competition.

For every “Galaga” and “Metroid”, you have something like “Astral Chain” or “West of Loathing”. I’m not saying that games that fit into a specific mold are bad, but it’s the ones that break said mold that are truly worthy of my time. A good example of this is the aforementioned Astral Chain.

I want a game that doesn’t feel like any other game currently available. Even a game in a popular genre can sometimes do stuff to set itself apart. For example, Soul Sacrifice is one of my favorite Monster Hunter “clones”. It plays like Monster Hunter, but focuses on the use of magic instead of weapons.

Your spells can only be used a limited amount of times, forcing you to constantly recharge them by “Saving” or “Sacrificing” slain monsters and creatures. It’s a great system and the insane customization and amount of content made it a hidden gem! Honestly, I feel more unique games should be made.

We’ve hit this stagnation with modern video-games where everything needs to be the next “Call of Duty”. That’s why I like to highlight games that are more unique and obscure, since those are the ones usually worth talking about! Not saying games that aren’t unique can’t be good, but they definitely don’t pack the same punch.