Initial Release: 18 January 2018

Despite some clunky design and difficulty spikes, World to the West is a fun game regardless. If you’re looking for a casual, Zelda-esque adventure game, this is a great place to jump in. It should at the very least tide players over until a 2D Zelda game inevitably releases on Nintendo Switch. Colourful, charming characters and an old school feel are definitely worth the price of admission, especially if you’re looking for a way to introduce little ones to the types of games you used to play as a kid.

Nintendo Switch has no doubt had a great first year, much of that can be attributed to the fact that we’ve already seen a mainline Zelda and Mario game. While Breath of the Wild was no doubt amazing, it did leave me longing for a more classic Zelda dungeon-crawling experience. World to the West definitely scratches this itch albeit in a very top level way. It has charming characters, dungeons full of treasure and pots to smash. It will no doubt appeal to those looking for a fix but unfortunately lacks the same level of polish when compared to Nintendo’s beloved series.

World to the West wastes no time getting the player straight into the action. Its opening hour is a real masterclass in how to give players the tools they need and sending them out into the world. The map is revealed early on which is a classic 2D top down map which shows exactly where paths are as well as underground and overground layers. It’s all very reminiscent of A Link to the Past, as is its combat, which is incredibly simple and accessible. In World to the West you control 4 characters, in different combinations related to different story beats. This is where the main issue with the game lies. You see, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be able to switch between these characters at will, not so. In order to switch characters you must reach totems which act as checkpoints. Reaching a totem with one character does not unlock the ability to switch to any character however, you must reach each individual checkpoint, with each character, one by one. This mechanic leads to several sections where you must walk each character one by one through the same environments. This is such a strange design choice, especially when you factor in that certain roadblocks can only be overcome by a particular character’s abilities and there is no way of knowing which one you will need.

World to the West

Once you come to terms with this obnoxious method of character switching, World to the West is a largely enjoyable affair. The story is a treasure hunt with some heartfelt moments peppered throughout. There are a few different enemies and bosses to defeat too but most of your time will be spent exploring its nicely sized map, prodding and poking the environment for collectables and a way forward. The combat leaves a lot to be desired, but is not the main focus for the majority of the game. In the boss fights though, it becomes a real issue. One fight in particular requires you to place dynamite, hit it with your shovel towards the enemy then dodge incoming attacks. This genuinely took me over an hour to complete, largely due to the fact that the shovel never wanted to make contact with anything and because movement is so clunky. There are also some issues with one of the character’s in particular too. Miss Teri can attack and stun with her scarf, but doing so also means you take control of the enemy. This means that when crowded with enemies you have no real way to attack other than taking control of an enemy, and if you are attacked while in this vulnerable state you lose control. It’s little design flaws like these that really drag the experience down because when World to the West works, it is really enjoyable. Using each character to backtrack through the environments Metroidvania style adds depth to the experience while finally working out the solution to a puzzle feels earned and rewarding.

In order to progress through the later stages of the game, the players must collect items scattered throughout the map. While I appreciate that this encourages players to explore the whole map, it is a little bit of a slap in the face. It is a very old school way of doing things so I guess it fits with the games that this one is so clearly inspired by. It’s not all bad though as the game’s world is made up of several distinct environments from deserts to snowy tundra. Going back to an area from the start of the game armed with new abilities and insight feels great, especially seeing as the map is small enough as to not allow the player to spend too much time meandering.

World to the West

World to the West performs great in both docked and handheld mode. The colourful and kiddy art style really pops on the Switch’s screen and it really feels suited to short, frequent play sessions. I think where this game will no doubt thrive is with a younger audience. It acts as a great entry point into more traditional gameplay experiences, teaching the importance of trial and error and recognising that different characters have unique ways of interacting with an environment.

Despite some clunky design and difficulty spikes, World to the West is a fun game regardless. If you’re looking for a casual, Zelda-esque adventure game, this is a great place to jump in. It should at the very least tide players over until a 2D Zelda game inevitably releases on Nintendo Switch. Colourful, charming characters and an old school feel are definitely worth the price of admission, especially if you’re looking for a way to introduce little ones to the types of games you used to play as a kid.

Verdict: 7 Out of 10

We were provided a copy of the game for review purposes by the publishers

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