West of Loathing is a turn-based RPG set in a wild west world populated by stick figures, clowns, angry cows, and reanimated skeletons. As the player, you first choose your name, gender, and (optionally) a stuffed animal. You are then transported to your room at the family farm where you dream of what you will be, thereby choosing your class: Beanslingers cook and use Mysticality to sling magic beans at opponents. Cow Punchers are general grunts with more muscle than brain, and uses Muscle to punch their foes. Snake Oilers are rogues who can pull snakes out of a briefcase and forge potions to turn the tide for better or worse.
Once you wake up next to your bed, you journey begins. Investigate your room, taking note of the convenient poster on the wall which describes the movement keys for your chosen keyboard/remote your pet crow and bookshelf. You can use the keyboard keys/buttons for fine movement, or simply click where you want to go (if you use a mouse). To investigate or use items, simply click on them. A pop-up from the Narrator will give your more information if more actions are possible as well as showing you the keyboard shortcut for the actions. Make sure you click on everything suspicious, no matter how insignificant it may seem, just to get a feeling for what interactive objects are available because you don't want to miss something important or not...
For PC-based players, movement follows the conventional WASD keyboard commands by default:
- – to move forward (up the screen)
- – to move left
- – to move backward (down the screen)
- – to move right
Interaction with objects and NPCs
To interact with objects or NPCs, simply click on them or walk up to them.
Travelling between locations
Your first traveling opportunity occurs once you've checked out your family farm and spoken to your Mom who will give you a choice between skill books, Dad will give you a item dependent on your class (remember your dream), and kid brother, Rufus who you can give back his cube. You can then leave the farm on a turnip cart and head for Boring Springs.
Your first part of the game happens when you fall off the turnip wagon,and on the Main Thoroughfare of The Town of Boring Springs. Don't forget to grab that turnip that fell with you! Next, check out the town and meet its inhabitants via the bar.
Talking to various NPCs you meet or reading the books, magazines and pamphlets you find, will reveal new locations and map icons for those will be added to your map. Once an icon appears on your map, you can travel to it by clicking on its map icon. You can also choose to simply Wander witch will trigger random events.
Like most games, you have a number of options for configuring the interface to your liking.
Before leaving Boring Springs, you will have to opportunity to choose a traveling companion, or pardner. It is highly recommended that you do so, though it is not mandatory.You can choose between Gary the Goblin, Susie Cochrane, Doc Alice, and Crazy Pete, in Boring Springs. NOTE: Gary is not available in Hard Mode.
Your game is automatically saved so there's no need to do so explicitly. However, this means you can't save and restore.
All fights are turn-based and set on a grid. If you or your pardner are knocked down during a fight, you do not actually die. If your pardner is knocked down, you are on your own for the remainder of the fight. If you are knocked down, the fight ends, giving you a stack of the Angry effect (+3 to Muscle/Mysticality/Moxie). If your stacks of Angry go over your Pain Tolerance (shown on the character page under Grit), you pass out from rage, and wake up back in your room in The Jewel Saloon, with your fullness/drunkenness/spleen reset, and all associated buffs are removed.