World to the West, which takes place in the same stylized universe as Teslagrad, is one of the more unique Zelda clones that are available on Nintendo Switch. Inspired by European adventure comics, World to the West follows the interweaving story of four separate protagonists as they uncover a dark prophecy and try to defeat a villain that has wronged each of them.
Progression in World to the West is broken up into nine different chapters; during the first eight, you’ll have control of only one or two different characters at a time, while all four are available in the final chapter. Lumina the Teslamancer, Knaus the orphan, Teri the mind bender, and strongman Lord Clonington each have their own motivation for pursuing the game’s villain, but they’re all fairly shallow except for Knaus, who comes from an underground forced labor camp and was led to believe that he was on the moon. Overall, the writing in World to the West is meant to be more charming and quirky than dark and serious. This plays well with the game’s vibrant visuals and its soundtrack — I would love to see a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening with this visual style.
While the overworld in World to the West is fairly large, only certain portions of it are available to explore in any given chapter. That’s because each of the four characters have their own special abilities they can use to overcome obstacles; the puzzle solving in World to the West is about how to get from point A to point B instead of pushing blocks or defeating all the enemies in an area to open a door. In one chapter you may only have access to Lumina and Teri, and you have to trek across the map to find a small temple so the route you take is dictated by how their abilities work together. This is true for other chapters in the game that have a multitude of different character combinations.
Lumina the Teslamancer has the ability to warp over chasms and through gates, and fire projectiles; Knaus the orphan can dig underground and eventually slide on ice and use dynamite; Teri the mind bender can sprint, use her sash like a grappling hook, and take control of enemies like Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey; and Lord Clonington is a brute that deals heavy damage to enemies and can climb up ledges.
The way their abilities mesh together is really creative. For example, there might be a ledge blocking your way with Lumina and Teri, but neither of them can climb. You’ll have to find a crab-like enemy with a rock on its back (think Crustle from Pokemon) that digs into the ground and rises when it’s stepped on and take control of it with Teri, move it next to the ledge, and then have both characters use it as an elevator to continue.
The Totem Problem
Unfortunately, switching between characters is a bit tedious. There are totems scattered across the world that act as warp points, and they activate when a character approaches it… But only for that character. If you make it from one totem to another with one character, you’ll have to switch to the other and make that same journey again — only using their specific abilities to overcome roadblocks and obstacles. I finished World to the West in just over ten hours and I feel like a lot of that time was spent running through areas I had already explored, this time with a different character. I understand the developers wanting players to solve puzzles as all of these characters, and this works in the early chapters, but it’s incredibly tedious once all four characters are available to swap between in the final chapter. At one point in this final chapter I had to get Lumina, Teri, and Clonington to a point on the other side of the world one by one — at that point the game should have just given you the ability to warp any character to any totem that’s been discovered by one of them. It gets worse when, in this final chapter, you have to scour the world for 15 batteries in a more tedious version of the Triforce Scroll hunt in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
I used the word “tedious” a lot to describe the character switching mechanic, but that word doesn’t describe World to the West as a whole. Aside from that aspect, World to the West is a joy to play and explore.
Some of the more obvious Zelda-like elements come from the heart-inspired health system, the health upgrades hidden throughout the world, the large cave systems in the underworld, a couple small dungeons, and a handful of challenging boss battles. There are even a couple upgrades for each of the characters, and both Lumina and Knaus have large boss battles that make use of all of their abilities in clever ways. Knaus, for instance, has a challenging boss that sucks up and shoots back his dynamite.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for World to the West was provided by Rain Games for this World to the West review.