Launched in the May of last year, World to the West was designed as a follow-up to the rather popular metroidvania Teslagrad. The game has changed dramatically since I saw it at Gamescom 2016 running on the Nintendo Switch’s older brother, the Wii U. Though Rain Games are still working to bring the game to the Wii U, they’ve now released World to the West in the midst of the Switch’s indie game surge. While there are some strengths and weaknesses that are still present in the game, the main focus is how the performance stacks up on the Nintendo Switch.
World to the West begins with clear signs of similarity to Teslagrad, with the opening character also being revealed to be a Teslamancer. However, Lumina the Teslamancer is joined by Knaus the orphan, Miss Teri the mind mender, and the handsomely mustachioed Lord Clonington, as they adventure through a rather different part of the world to try and escape an ancient prophecy.
The game is an entirely different genre to Teslagrad’s 2D puzzle-platforming, but the game’s art style allows it too look incredible in both docked and handheld mode. The minimalistic and colourful graphics remind me of the DS Zelda games and A Link Between Worlds for 3DS, and there’s a clarity that makes it relatively easy to find your way around. The game’s design is also complimented by the incredibly catchy soundtrack, which I found to be very different to the norm. The only thing I could compare it to would be the music from Tearaway by Media Molecule.
As mentioned in our original review, the characters in World to the West travel independently, which means that after reaching a checkpoint the player must switch to another character from an earlier check point and make their way over with that character until all of them are together and can progress. This progression system does work in that it does allow you to find new things based on each character’s abilities before moving onto the next part of the story, but after an hour or so, it can feel like you’re not making as much progress as you’d like due to the repeated backtracking. Sometimes it’s easy to get far with one character, but not so far with others.
The controls scheme is responsive and simple to understand on the Nintendo Switch, and is very similar to the likes of top-down Zelda games or the recently reviewed Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King. There’s also no multiplayer in the game, even though it could work very well, but it’s also the reason the game doesn’t support the use of a single Joy-Con to play, as it’s functionality it doesn’t need.
The game may look fantastic, but terms of World to the West’s performance, there are some issues. In the Switch’s docked mode, the game runs at a beautiful 1080p which looks sharp and clean, given the minimalistic low-polygon environments. In handheld the game sticks to a 720p, but still has hiccups in overpopulated areas. The developer has promised that the performance will be optimized in an upcoming patch.
Overall, World to the West is a great take on bringing new original puzzle elements to top-down adventure games, but the game falls flat on making progression feel worthwhile and has a few hiccups with the game’s performance at launch. Despite that, it’s still a great puzzle-platformer for Nintendo Switch, and when it eventually releases, for Wii U as well.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch