Embark on the wild west journey of your dreams...or maybe nightmares
West of Loathing is a new RPG from Asymmetric Publications, the team that brought us the browser-based RPG The Kingdom of Loathing. All things loathing are steeped in a very particular sense of humor.
The artstyle is mostly on the “stick people” side, the currency of the land is meat, and beans have deep ties to magic. It's a clever absurdity that blends seamlessly together to create a believable, if wacky world. As the name suggests, West of Loathing takes place in the wild wild west. The player is tired of life on their family's ranch and leaves home to seek their fortune.
The game starts out like any other RPG, you pick a name and a class. The classes are your first real taste of how weird this game can be. You get to pick between, cowpuncher, snake oiler, or beanslinger. Each corresponding to one of the games three core stats; strength, moxie, and mysticality.
The game takes place after a “cattle-strophic” event known as “when the cows came home” when the west was invaded by demon cows from the underworld. There are loads of enemies wreaking havoc on the world. There's a cult of necromancers summoning the dead to attack the living. There are also artificial constructs known as the El Vibrato. These constructs all seem to be guarding a mysterious entity known as Roberto. The world is not in a good way, but it's perfect for a young go-getter looking to make their mark.
The West of Loathing is a complex turn-based RPG under the guise of a very simple one. The three core stats all correspond to a different method of attack. Strength for melee, moxie for firearms, and mysticality for magic. If your strength is higher than theirs, you do more damage with melee attacks, moxie you do more with gun attacks and so on with mysticality accordingly.
When you gain experience, you can have your EXP automatically assigned or spend it yourself to create the cowpoke of your dreams. You can further tune your character with food and drink. You can eat and drink a certain amount each day and, depending on what you consume, you'll receive stat buffs.
There are lots of skills you can learn with varying effects. The snake oiler can use a snake as a whip to poison their foes, you can raise the dead to fight for you, cast mighty bean magic, all sorts of ridiculous things.
Battle is also very forgiving. If you lose a battle, you get angry, which makes you stronger. If you lose three battles, you pass out from being so angry and you'll wake up in your room a day later. So the only real drawback from losing fights is the loss of your buffs from food. Some may think this makes things too easy, but it works perfectly because difficulty isn't the name of the game. The game is more about enjoying each hilarious scenario and begins to hard would detract from that. There are even many scenarios in which fighting can be avoided depending on your skills.
The game is just fun. There's a lot of reading involved, but the lines just jump right off your screen.
Each encounter is a riot. There's a half man half cactus looking for love. You'll encounter a ghost town full of bureaucrats. You'll have your pick of companions, each with their own story to tell. The map is littered with interesting locations and is simple to navigate.
My least favorite part is inventory management. You'll quickly fill up on all manner of weird things and your pack can get very cluttered, but you won't have to worry about a storage limit.
The main story is a bit short, but there is plenty to do. For a game as small as West of Loathing, it's packed with things to do and stories to follow.