World to the West originally came out in 2017 from Rain Games. But like so many indies, it’s now making its way to the Nintendo Switch. I never did get a chance to play World to the West on PC, PS4, or Xbox One before, and when I saw that it was a sprawling Zelda-like adventure game with exploration, puzzles, and character swapping at its core I expected to like it quite a bit. Now after a good amount of time with the charming adventure, I can say it’s everything I expected, but also not quite as good as it could be. This is our World to the West review for Nintendo Switch.
The story is about four completely different adventurers: a mysterious lightning wielding girl, a poor miner boy, a mercenary whose deal goes south, and an aristocrat strongman clone who just wants to punch stuff. They’re all pulled together by mysterious forces, and their separate adventures eventually intersect and help them on a quest to save the world from certain doom. You know,the usual. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Clonington, the Strong Man, is best at fighting and breaking down doors. Knaus, the little boy, can dig under the earth with his shovel and skate across any surface once he gets his magic shoes. Lumina the mage can teleport short distances and levitate on special switches, and Teri can control animals with her special artifact, as well as hook onto objects with her whipping scarf.
Each one of their abilities come into play in different parts of the adventure. A door that seemed shut earlier may be opened by force when you can get Clonington there later. The downside of all this switching back and forth with characters is that when you control one, the others stay behind. I’d have liked them to be swapped on the go, personally as the mechanic necessitates it. Instead, you’re always left backtracking far too much when you find out you need another character to reach the next step of the journey. There are teleportals everywhere, but once you unlock one it can only be traveled to with that character. The others can’t catch up by teleporting until they discover it themselves, and this leads to even more back-tracking and unnecessary repetition.
The puzzles are great though, and often times require some true thinking. Most Zelda-like games don’t get that right. The story and characters are cute too, unveiled slowly throughout the game in cutscenes. It’s always a treat to get new abilities for a character too, which often unlocks areas that were previously closed off. The downside of World to the West truly only lies in its teleporting and back-tracking. If both of those would change just a bit, World to the West would be an altogether more enjoyable experience.
Visually and audibly, Rain Games’ adventure is top notch. Simplistic cartoony graphics work because the animations are excellent and the character designs are perfect. I would have liked some more complex lighting and textures on the world itself, but it works. It’s like an Eisner cartoon in game form. The soundtrack is truly exquisite too, making me wish I had it as a downloadable extra for my iPhone.
In total, World to the West is another solid entry in the Zelda-like games that are hitting the Switch’s eShop. Its shortfalls are minor, and its upsides are great. If, like me, you long for a top-down Hyrulian adventure on the Switch, then World to the West is a great game for you. It’s out today on the Nintendo Switch, for a mere $19.99 and worth every penny for a nice 10-20 hour adventure.