Kingdom Of Loathing Sequel West Of Loathing Is Out Now

Is West of Loathing a worthy followup?
West of Loathing.
West of Loathing. (c) Asymmetric

I booted up West of Loathing late last night, thinking I’d play for a few minutes to check it out before bed. But soon enough, the sun was rising. While this isn’t that rare an experience for me, what was notable was that I never entered the late night gaming stupor where I mindlessly fulfilled quest objectives. Instead, the entire night I had a smile on my face and was excited to see more and more of the insane world.

To talk about West of Loathing, it is important to mention its predecessor, 2003’s Kingdom of Loathing. Kingdom of Loathing was made by a small team in the days before the Steam store and the app store made such a thing commonplace. The game was web based and free-to-play and never charged any fees or featured any advertisements. The ‘graphics’ were mostly static images of crudely environments complete with stick figure people. Nevertheless, it became a huge success due to the humor and irreverence at the core of the game. It didn’t follow the rules established by most games, but instead danced around them, obeying and breaking them always in pursuit of a joke.

Gaming has changed a lot since 2003, but if anything, we are just as in need of this kind of change of pace as we were back then. That’s where West of Loathing comes in. Leaving behind the fantasy tropes of Kingdom , we can now make Horace Greeley proud and ‘Go West.’ Kingdom of Loathing fans worried about the sequel can relax. The humor is on point. Puns, wordplay, and general silliness fill every second of the game. I won’t spoil anything here, but my best set of weapons and armor may or may not be covered in spit, and I may or may not have gotten them by digging in every spittoon I found, and I may or may not have received a perk that tells me my hand has been permanently stained by spittoon slop…

It’s hard to say if West of Loathing is a ‘good game,’ but if you are looking at it through that lens, then you’re already in the wrong mindset. The fact of the matter is there is nothing else like it, and possibly no other game even in the same ballpark, with the exception of its predecessor. The game is filled with loving little touches that are always extremely rewarding. For example, given that you’re in the Wild West, many of the environments are covered in cacti, if you bump into one your character will let out a little yelp. I thought that was the end of it, but after doing this enough times by accident, I received a perk that told me I was covered in scraps from all the cactus wounds and the perk actually affected my stats. The playfulness at the root of the game breaks the player out of the normal rhythms and grind many games are defined by. Beyond that, it is just so much fun.

West of Loathing is available now on Steam, and unlike Kingdom of Loathing, it isn’t free. But the $10 price tag will be repaid tenfold in sheer joy.

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