Another game that I have been playing a more than significant amount of is West of Loathing. The attraction of this stick figure graphics clad game won’t make a whole lot of sense unless you too played an awful lot of Kingdom of Loathing. For those not already indoctrinated… “KoL” was one of the early browser based role-playing games launching in February of 2003. I am not entirely certain when I first discovered it but I believe it was sometime within that first year. I would love to say that I have access to my original account… but that is tied to an email address I no longer have access to. What set Kingdom of Loathing apart other than the unapologetic programmer art… was a sense of humor and a general aura of fun around the game. You chose from classes such as Sauceror, Pastamancer, Turtle Tamer, Disco Bandit, Accordion Thief or Seal Clubber… all with their largely goofy and nonsensical abilities. Now you might exact the game to play like a parody of an RPG, but in truth it had a significant amount of depth and was fun in its own right once the gags became a little stale. This was one of the first times I had encountered the “energy” mechanic that limits how many turns per day you could take, and in truth without Kingdom of Loathing I question of anything like a Fallen London would have ever gained traction considering it uses much the same format.
What West of Loathing does, is combine all of the elements that I loved about the point and click adventure style RPG that was Kingdom of Loathing and bring it into the real time interactive gaming world. Instead of navigating through a series of mouse clicks and menu items, you actually go out and explore the world with WASD and keys to interact with objects. It has been awesome to see all of these scenes that are extremely reminiscent to that of KoL animated and moving on my screen… with just as many physical gags worked in as I would have expected. One of the early things you notice is that various objects in the world will add items to your configuration menu. For example you unlock a check box that is labelled “Stupid Walking” which causes your character to cycle through a series of bizarre walking moves from the dog “butt scoot” animation to something similar to the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks gag. Another option is “Best Font Mode” that shifts everything from a Serif font to something resembling Arial… none of these really have any major effect on the game they just do goofy things because the game is goofy.
Much like Kingdom of Loathing you are absolutely flooded with items that vary from the completely useless vendor fodder to things that you probably should hold onto just in case there might be a use for it later. The game will gleefully allow you to consume or destroy a major plot device that will keep you from unlocking segments of the game. As a result there were several things I failed to do in the introductory area… that you can apparently never go back to. The game will also gleefully push you in front of mobs that you have zero hope of actually beating. It turns out at least in one of these cases I was supposed to allow it to beat me to unlock something I needed for another quest. However I muscled through and used up my stock of dynamite to be able to succeed. One of the best parts of the game so far is the fact that it is fairly forgiving of your mistakes when it comes to taking deaths… and will functionally respawn you in a save space as though you simply got beat up and had to retreat. As far as classes go in West of Loathing you have a much more limited set to choose from. I went with the Cow Puncher which serves as the Muscle stat class for the game, but you can also choose from Beanslinger the Mysticality class or Snake Oiler the Moxie class. Pretty early in the game I started down a bit of a secondary path of Necromancy and can now summon all manner of skeletal creatures to help fight for me.
At this point I have played around five hours of the game and have unlocked a decent chunk of the map so far. The game itself feels like this weird mix of a Maniac Mansion style adventure game blended with the original Fallout. As you move between objectives on the world map you encounter random events, and if you just want to partake of the random events… there is the Wander button that makes your character literally roam around in a circle around your current objective. In Kingdom of Loathing there were a number of endless combat areas that allows you to level up specific stats or farm for specific items, and this game keeps that concept with several locations including something that allows you to keep jumping into combat as often as you like. One example of this is a fountain that is spitting out snakes… and you can walk up to it and grab a snake to fight as many times as you like if that sounds like something you actually want to be doing. There is a bone pit that I go to rather often to find the components I need to summon skeletons. The absolute best part about West of Loathing is the fact there is no energy mechanic. That is ultimately my frustration with the original Kingdom of Loathing or Fallen London… is that I play them in spurts. I might want to play for a few hours and then will go for a month without playing it again… and that goes specifically against their model. West of Loathing on the other hand is something I can roam around at my pace without worry about encountering any hidden barriers. Ultimately if you ever played Kingdom of Loathing I highly suggest you check out this game, and at only $10 I have gotten more than my enjoyment out of it thus far… and feel like I have only barely scratched the surface.