Game Of The Year 2017 Editor's Spotlight Awards
Created by GameSpot Staff on
West of Loathing | Michael Higham, Associate Editor
On its face, West of Loathing is a simple RPG in a black-and-white world (literally) where stick figures roam alongside goblins and possessed cows. You hit the trail and leave home to take part in a westward expansion caricature for no other reason than to do it. When you strip away fancy graphics and cinematic flare, every other aspect of a game has to rise. And through its clever writing and grand musical score, West of Loathing delivers a uniquely comedic RPG filled with personality.
The game takes on an absurdist tone that bounces between old-timey vernacular and modern day tongue. This anachronism doesn’t throw you off; instead it elevates the ridiculousness of the game's situations. Your character speaks in a very matter-of-fact way in the face of cowboys, talking goblins, and cultist clowns. In true RPG fashion, you have dialogue options when engaging with some of the townsfolk, and you have multiple options to approach conflicts, depending on stat checks. Despite its aesthetic, West of Loathing has an impressively deep character building system. Muscle, Moxie, and Mysticality work as base stats, but the range of combat modifiers, skillsets, and item effects give you much more to chew on than a straightforward turn-based combat system.
West of Loathing wouldn't stick as much if it wasn't for the rich, original soundtrack. Composer Ryan Ike uses marching drums, the twang of a lead guitar, and the backing of a string/horn section to create an epic western orchestration that instills a sense of grandeur in a world of surreal humour and stick figures. It even has a sweet ragtime tune and banjo-backed disco track to boot; this game's got a whole lot of moxie.