It's officially up! I did a game review for the website dlh.net on the adventure title World to the West. You can find the full review here: World to the West
It was pretty awesome to do a game review, mostly because I love to freakin write. Much like with my novel, I was given a word limit of 700 (I hit like 690-something, go me!) and of course my initial draft blew past it around 1600 or so. It's a good exercise for cutting down my word to just what's important.
So, let's talk about the game, shall we?
So that title screen is misleading. I suppose if you placed Teslagrad, the game before this one, perhaps it makes more sense. Spoiler, that man on the bridge isn't seen again. Maybe if I 100% the game, but this is pretty much the end of his story. I think that might be one of my first gripes: the story.
It's pretty light. You don't really have to pay attention to understand what you're doing. You play as group of four adventurers from different backgrounds all dragged together to save the world. It's funny and self-aware, but beyond names and BRIEF backstory to each character, I couldn't tell you much.
Knaus, for example...
You hear enough of his story to be invested, but not a drop more. He's a "very brave boy" that works in a mine. He can dig to hide from enemies or crawl under obstacles, use dynamite to destroy boulders, and apparently thought he and all his child labor friends were on the moon. Why they thought that isn't really elaborated on. For the record, they're not. They're being used to mine... something? The main villain gave some gear to the "older kids" who bully Knaus and his friends and have been telling them that they all launched on a rocket to the moon and are currently digging moon rocks.
It's an intriguing story idea, but it's not explored! I have no idea why they think that or agreed to go to the moon to mine rocks! Or what about this chap?
That's Sir Clonington on the left there. He (I) punched that big monster to death. You learn, blatantly, that his scientist companion, who plays no role in the actual game, cloned him. He warns him a few times not to go getting into dangerous situations because cloning him is a hassle. That's it. He's apparently part of the upper crust and can attend fancy parties that others can't, but that's it! I want to know more about this guy, but the game never tells me.
So, yeah. Story is important. I can understand rewarding your player for sticking with the game, for completing things 100%, but in the end your player needs to feel like they have some closure. One hero, Lumina, who was lost in this world, gets to travel back home. Her father was apparently the chap on the bridge, but we don't see a reunion. Teri, an adventurer, has almost no backstory to speak up other than, her name's Teri and she's an adventurer. She apparently stiffed an airship rider on the bill for taking her someplace once, but that's about it.
I'm not say that a GAME needs a deep, rich story to be fun. This was a great little adventure game (though the ceaseless backtracking was annoying,) but I like to know the story I'm going through. I got the main conflict story. Big bad steals an ancient machine to control the weather, four heroes gather to stop him, they stop him, everyone goes home. But... there's so much left! There are some things left to do in the game, but closure shouldn't be hidden behind extra exploration.
Now, something like Skyrim (which is so much bigger and different than this as to be unfair in comparison, but whatever) does it right. There's the story you need and there's the story of the world. If you go around and read books, you can learn the lore of the world and all about it's rich history. But as far as your character, you learn just about everything you need to know through a normal playthrough. No need to play again to understand WHY something is the way it is (unless you literally didn't go that route, which is more than possible in a Bethesda game.)
Overall, yeah, I liked this little game. It had some annoying moments, like me getting to places with the wrong character and almost getting permanently stuck...
... or having to navigate enemy heavy areas in a game with less than stellar combat mechanics...
...but barring those annoyances, there's a good game with delightful humor to be found in it.
Here's hoping the next review is just as fun.
Be Excellent to each Other!
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.