My goal this year was to beat twenty games - and I did! Magic has eaten away at my video game time in a big way. But I am still playing some games.
I go to a monthly meetup in Osaka. It's filled with people in the gaming industry, translators and people interested in games. I talk to a guy, Ben, quite a bit about indie games. We have had some conversations, let me tell you. He said I should play West of Loathing. He actually gifted it to me. So I played it. And I beat it.
As someone who has made a few games that are, well, let's be honest, ugly, it kind of upsets me to see a game that is ugly in a good way. West of Loathing is just black and white stick art, but it full embraces its style and is not only consistant but good at being ""bad"". I am kind of jealous.
But it ""makes up"" for that with a solid soundtrack, lots of laughs and a decent battle system. It takes the "wild west" theme, adds some cow-based demons and rolls with the weirdness. Cultists, skeleton petting zoos, drunk horses. Mechanics-wise, there's nothing new in this game, but it takes open world RPGs embraces the mechanics while not being afraid to poke fun at them. You get XP for flushing toilets. Flush enough (all of the?) toilets and you get a perk that boosts your Muscle (Strength).
I am sure I missed a lot of content - such is the way of an open world RPG, but I did lots of side quests. They ranged from weird to hilarious. Dealing with hippies to get jelly beans back or climbing through a giant cactus finding ways to please goblins. (Whose language I managed to learn early which made encounters with them not always the combative type) so I could get to the top and... I think this was also part of the jelly bean sidequest? That was a long one. Helping the jelly bean man leads to him helping your main character in a useful way.
Anyway. As you can tell there's a lot to it. You get a "pardner" who will show up in the opening area of dungeons and towns and will remind you of the main quest and any side quests you're taking part in. I was either not paying attention in the beginning or they designed it well enough that I thought I was getting the only possible pardner whereas there are actually a few. And you get achievements for clearing the game with said pardner.
I doubt I'll go back and try it a different way, though.
Because while I had enough fun, it felt like there was too much to the game. There was a whole "day" system. You could consume only a certain amount of stat boosting food, alcohol and drugs each day and sleeping would clear the boosts as well as empty your body so you could put more in. I ignored this system almost except for a few parts where I needed enough of a certain stat to do something to complete a quest. Other than that my inventory was just overfilled with all these foods, booze and drugs that I was never going to look at.
Which I suppose is fine. I imagine they expect some players to play that way.
It managed to overwhelm me like most open world games do, but it was short enough that I actually finished it. I did abuse a fountain of snakes (i.e. unlimited combat) where I could finish the battles quick enough to get enough experience to get my stats where I needed to do side quests and then just get on with the game. Not the most fun method, but it was effective and that is something we as humans tend to do. We'll take the easiest path even if it's not the most fun.
In a game.
Human psychology is weird.
Anyway, it was fun enough, and I will at one point gift it to someone else so they can experince the weirdness on their own. I applaud the team for making such a big game with such a weird but enjoyable world.