Rain Games' first release was Teslagrad; a side-scrolling puzzle platformer that told its story through visual means, with little to no text or dialogue. World to the West is vastly different; the 2D side-scrolling is now 3D, aesthetically it looks much more colourful and cheerful, and the story is driven by dialogue and engaging with the other playable characters.
It's a relatively simple premise: four characters, each with unique abilities - Lumina the Teslamancer, Knaus the Orphan, Miss Teri the Mind Bender, and Lord Clonington the Strongman - see their respective journeys intertwine, as each of them has had something dear to them taken by the bad man and they have to navigate a series of puzzles and paths to retrieve their items. It's not going to be winning any awards for the concept, but it suits the child-like nature of the game.
You're introduced to each character in chapters, so you can get used to each of their talents before having them all team up. Lumina can utilise launch pads and dash, in a similar manner to Corvo's 'blink' ability in Dishonored, to cross gaps and pass through gates. Knaus is a small and fragile boy, so his main ability is to evade enemies by digging a hole with his shovel and going underground to tunnel past any difficult creatures or obstacles. Miss Teri channels everything through her scarf, which allows her to take control of enemies and also hook it round designated poles that mean she can traverse gaps similar to Lumina, albeit in a much more limited way. Finally, there's Lord Clonington, who is undoubtedly the most charming character with his straight-to-the-point, no-nonsense demeanour. He can charge at enemies, dealing a large amount of damage and only stopping for walls, and he can also deliver quick 1-2 punches to dispatch anything that stands in his way.
World to the West's appeal comes in the form of exploration. A lot of elements take inspiration from 1991 classic A Link to the Past. For example, while there isn't an alternate dimension alongside the main world, there is an underground network of caverns that can be traversed and essentially doubles the size of the map. Areas and secrets are blocked off by various puzzles that require each character's ability to solve, and none of them are too difficult to complete, although you'll likely get stumped sometimes before thinking more logically.
Combat is, unfortunately, nothing more than tedious, with little variation to the enemies and them sponging far more hits than is necessary. It's never particularly difficult, with the only risk of dying coming when you're overwhelmed, and it might have been a more enjoyable experience if combat wasn't an option; if enemies were there to be bypassed rather than defeated, it would work a lot better. That's how Knaus works, but when you're playing as Miss Teri and you have to whip each enemy with your scarf, automatically take control of it, then jump off a ledge to defeat it, all while enemies respawn every time you re-enter the area, it makes exploring much more of a slog than it needed to be.
That's one of the areas where the game falls flat. It's based around exploration and discovering new areas, but this aspect isn't enjoyable. Checkpoints exist in the form of totems throughout the land, along with being designated fast travel spots. What really limits this aspect is that you can only travel to totems that a specific character has discovered. So you have to fully explore the map four times, once with every character, to have truly uncovered everything. And when that means you have to beat the same cluster of enemies four times over, and slowly plod your way through each area despite knowing exactly what to expect, it swiftly gets boring.
There's a currency system in the game, too, but you don't actually get the opportunity to spend any of your glowing bits until long into the game, and even then you only spend a fraction of what you've garnered. The whole game seems to be a random amalgamation of mechanics that just don't work particularly well when thrown together, despite the charismatic characters and compelling world.
World to the West isn't a particularly bad game, and Rain Games have clearly injected a lot of love and dedication into the project. However, the unfulfilling exploration and repetitive, one-dimensional combat really bring the experience down, especially when you consider those needed to be the areas it excelled in. The presentation in the cutscenes is great, and the music is simple and chirpy, but when it's boring to play and there's little to no draw to find out what happens next, unfortunately it's just another name to add to the list of Zelda-inspired indie titles.