I really enjoyed West of Loathing, so I’m not sure why I took so long to get round to the sequel (actually, I do – All The Games). And what a game it is.
Well, it’s the same as the previous game. Of course, it isn’t, but everything that was great about that is still great here. Time has moved on a bit, so instead of being set in the Old West, Shadows Over Loathing is set in The Big City, in the 1920s. Not the real 1920s, of course, because they didn’t use meat as currency then, nor did they have faeries that stab you, algebra that tries to kill you, time travel portals, or people who had been turned into frogs and frogs that had been turned into people. And lots of tentacles. Yes, there’s a Day of the Tentacle reference. And a Fallout one. And many others, including some that mention the events and locations of West of Loathing.
The game opens with you receiving a letter from your uncle. He needs your help, so you get the bus to the city, only to break down on the way and when you finally get to his office, he’s gone missing and all your luggage bursts into flames. Uncle’s colleagues let you in on what he’s been investigating, and it’s mainly regarding cursed items. You need to find them, un-curse them, and then you might figure out what’s going on. Naturally, it’s not as simple as that as the story goes all over the place, with trips to a weird university (which has a Spider Wing, a BBQ Wing and an infinitely long corridor in amongst the buildings) where you must graduate, a town called Sandwich which is currently a museum but you need to solve some mysteries by travelling to the past, a swamp where two rival families run a fishing business, with one family deboning the fish, and the other re-boning them. There’s a man who wants to reward you for each photo he takes of you in a different hat. There are vampires. There’s a flooded lighthouse, but not because it’s under water – it’s just filled with water. There’s a hobo village you can grow and populate with a diverse array of hobos. You can fish for… stuff in puddles and buckets and toilets. Toilets! So many toilets. If you flush them, you get XP. It’s like the game was made just for me.
I’ve not even mentioned the combat, for this is a full-on RPG with stats and turn based fighting and items you can equip and upgrade. You can enlist a character to fight alongside you too, and you’ve always got one of a number of familiars who can buff you or heal you. As I said in my comments on the previous game, not only is it hilarious, nonsensical and silly, but the game is actually a great game as well. Every wall of text is worth reading. Every character is worth conversing with. Every item is worth examining. There’s so much genuinely funny stuff here that it’s easy to forget that the mechanics are polished and enjoyable too.
I could talk about events I came across (like meeting your future self, handing him 300 meat, then later on having to hand it back to your past self) but there are so many I’d be here forever and, if you’ve not played it, you’d miss the joy of finding them all yourself. If you have any affinity for the funny, you absolutely must play Shadows Over Loathing.