Developer(s) – Rain Games
Developed by Rain as an extension of the mythos of their breakout Metroidvania game Teslagrad, World to the West offers a completely different gaming experience to the former with a 3D top-down adventure game rather than a 2D Metroidvania. Having played this follow-up game and weighed it up against Teslagrad, this game comes out in front of it’s predecessor in terms of quality, as it exceeds it in almost every aspect.
Graphics – 9/10
First of all, the visuals are just as impressive as they were in the previous game in terms of both a conceptual and technical level. The conceptual design of the in-game world is a lot more diverse than in Teslagrad since it takes place in a much more vast landscape as opposed to being confined to one single area. It also does well to keep the same cartoon-like style that the first game had with it’s character and enemy design, along with both the design of the map and selected scenery within the game as well. That the developers made the transition from 2D to 3D, identical to the transition between the fourth and fifth generation of gaming in general, it made sense for them to have used cel-shaded 3D visuals to coincide with the visual ideas perpetuated within Teslagrad.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
Gameplay is also much more varied than it is in the first game, with there being a much more heightened sense of both exploration, combat and puzzle solving. The players controls four main characters, which all must be used to explore the in-game world and gain access to new areas in order to progress throughout. Each character has their own unique abilities and combat moves that the player can utilize to suit whatever situation they may find themselves in. Whilst it is much more diverse than Teslagrad, the main gripe I had about the gameplay is that it has only one side quest just like it’s predecessor, which is in fact the exact same side quest as in it’s predecessor, and completing part of it is also necessary to progress with a certain section of the main story, which was disappointing considering the size of the open world, and how it compares to the first game. Regardless, however, it’s still a particularly fun game to play, and what time is sent on completing the main story can be thoroughly enjoyed. And like in Teslagrad, there are some particularly impressive boss fights too.
Controls – 9.5/10
The only problem I had with the game’s controls were that at times, they seemed a little unresponsive, which proved annoying; especially in pivotal moments like boss fights. Otherwise, it’s quite impressive how the developers were able to implement so many different types of controls for the four different playable characters from Teri’s ability to possess animals to Knaus’s ability to dig underground to get around certain areas.
Lifespan – 7/10
Overall, the game can be made to last around 15 to 20 hours, which is a massive improvement compared to Teslagrad, which could only be made to last there around 5 hours. Though there is only one side quest in World to the West, it takes much longer to complete, as there is much more back story to cover than what there was in the first game.
Storyline – 7/10
The game’s story takes place in the same universe, but in a land far away from the city of Elektropia from Teslagrad. It follows the exploit of a teslamancer named Lumina, a bodybuilder names Clonington, and miner named Knaus and a bounty hunter named Teri, and how their story all come together for them to realize their end goal; to bring down a ruthless entrepreneur named Tychoon who is planning to use an ancient machine capable of manipulating the weather for his own financial gain. Unlike Teslagrad, there is most definitely a greater emphasis on the story going forward than there is of back-story, which is what the first game was primarily based on. And although I prefer the story in Teslagrad fractionally more than in this game, as it told the story in a much subtle, thematic and interpretive way, I like the story in World to the West for different reasons; that it tries much harder than Teslagrad to connect the players with the characters.
Although this game has its obvious influences (games in The Legend of Zelda series definitely came to my mind as I was playing this), it presents a gaming experience that is considerably different to the former, as in a way, its arguably more variable than the likes of Tri Force Heroes or Four Swords. Out of both of the gameplay formulas that have been tried and tested by Rain Games, I would much rather see them build upon this as opposed to the Metroidvania style of play in Teslagrad, as I think doing this has more potential and scope for expansion.
Overall, I enjoyed World to the West quite a lot. It’s a deliberately paced, varied and entertaining game with plenty of story going forward and back-story for players to sink their teeth in for a much more reasonable amount of time than Teslagrad. It’s better than their former game in every respect, and I can’t recommend it enough.
8/10 (Very Good)