Rain Games returns to the Wii U with a game that shows a lot of promise.
I’ve had the opportunity to see games in various stages of development. Although most are close to release, some are very early in development. Back at Gamescom 2016, I saw a very early build of World to the West from Rain Games, makers of Teslagrad. Although World to the West is a part of the Teslagrad universe, the gameplay is nothing like its 2014 predecessor. This time, the exploration is in 3D dungeons across four continents, and I’m really excited to see more of it.
World to the West's way of telling a narrative is more direct than Teslagrad. While Teslagrad left a lot of things open to interpretation, this newer adventure has a deep plot with a variety of characters. There are four main playable characters, and the story follows them through a wide world of puzzles, combat and exploration. The characters have their own motivations for embarking on this journey, but it seems to tie into the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy.
The four characters I played in the demo each have their own special abilities. Lumina is the daughter of the Teslamancer and keeps alive the family tradition of electrical powers, while Kraus is a tiny orphan who can dig and use his size to access out-of-the-way areas. Terri the Mindbender specializes in mind control and teleportation, which she used to great effect in getting a squirrel to hand over an artifact My personal favorite character was Lord Clonington, who is a strongman that uses his immense strength to smash open paths. The Lord wants to be an adventurer badly, and I had a great time using his power for exploration.
The great thing about the gameplay in World to the West is the amount of freedom it gives. Each puzzle or obstacle can be approached in multiple different ways. I played with more of a combat focus, while other people at the event would try to use stealth and avoid all of the enemies. Although these players would clear puzzle and exploration-focused areas quickly, they would spend additional time sneaking past the enemies. Both methods created different paths to the end of the demo area, and should lead to a lot of replay value in the final game.
While Teslagrad went for a more classically animated look, World of the West is opting for more of a stylish, cel-shaded approach. That being said, the cast do keep the characteristics that made Teslagrad such a unique looking game. The eye movement and the way the characters walk stand out, though there were some rough spots. The final version should clean this all up nicely I reckon.
World to the West left a strong first impression. The different methods for handling the levels made the game interesting to both play and watch. Next to that, it has a stylized look and a story that may even outperform Teslagrad. Naturally, I have to wait how it all comes together in the final game, but it is hard to imagine Rain Games screwing this up. The foundation they presented is solid and that has me really excited for the final product. World to the West will be coming to the Wii U eShop early next year.