Eastward review | PC Gamer

Set in a world the place humanity clings to pockets of civilization, Eastward takes inspiration from previous RPGs and the likes of Earthbound, Zelda, and Studio Ghibli movies to create superbly desolate places stuffed with a mixture of puzzles and motion. Regardless of trying like a pixelated old-school RPG it is completely beautiful, cramming element into every setting identical to a Ghibli film. It is a lot a tribute to the famed Japanese animation studio that you’ll find a model of Hayao Miyazaki himself hiding out within the beginning city of Potcrock Isle.

Must know

What’s it? Trendy homage to JRPG classics
Count on to pay: $25/£22
Developer: Pixpil
Writer: Chucklefish
Reviewed on: Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM
Multiplayer? No
Out: Now
Hyperlink: eastwardgame.com

Eastward follows John, a silent miner who makes use of a frying pan each for cooking and hitting folks, and Sam, a younger woman with white hair (which is how you understand she’s mysterious). The 2 develop a father-daughter-like relationship as they eke out a dwelling within the underground city of Potcrock Isle, however once they’re exiled to the wastelands of the floor world, they uncover that issues up prime aren’t what they appeared. It takes a short while to get going, however actually begins to take off once you depart the primary space and deeper mysteries are launched. 

(Picture credit score: Chucklefish)

The puzzles are very Zelda-like—put weights on platforms to carry doorways open, punt bombs throughout gaps, cut up the characters as much as clear paths for one another—and strike a steadiness between being difficult with out being too irritating. Some sections do really feel somewhat repetitive, and one half particularly the place it’s important to remedy puzzles at velocity to keep away from being consumed by a spreading miasma made me step away for a second to chill down. It isn’t that the puzzles themselves are tough, however there is not sufficient time to evaluate and full them earlier than dying. The stress was ruined by repetition and frustration, however that form of factor is fortunately uncommon in Eastward.

The monsters are fairly cute, just like the waddling mushrooms and bomb-spitting duck vegetation, and might normally be taken down with a number of pan strikes. Bosses all have some form of gimmick to resolve first—to coax them out of hiding or get them to face nonetheless so that you may give them an excellent pounding. John’s trusty frying pan has a satisfying thwack however might be laborious to purpose, and switching between that and the gun can sluggish you down which led to me dropping my guard on extra events than I would prefer to admit. Nonetheless, swapping between John and Sam to make use of her vitality blasts is extremely fast and helps maintain issues recent.

(Picture credit score: Chucklefish)

The place Eastward actually excels is its ambiance. It in some way straddles that line between feeling each retro in its pixels, and fashionable with its element and lighting. New Dam metropolis is a spotlight with Japanese-style homes and alleyways all crowded collectively however nonetheless overflowing with potted vegetation and energy traces. Different areas are unsettling, and that unease creeps up on you as you progress deeper. One second you are exploring a beautiful forest, the subsequent robotic eyes are following your each transfer. Eastward additionally does some enjoyable issues with the vibration settings on controllers—emulating the feeling of passing over practice tracks or the sensation of a heartbeat in tense moments.

The music has caught with me too, even after I finished taking part in. It is a chiptune love letter to video games of the ’90s that’s little question going to seek out its approach into lots of ‘lofi chill beats to review to’ playlists. The textual content design can also be improbable—speech bubbles shake with shock or pip slowly throughout tense moments. It is a masterclass on find out how to give characters character with out voice appearing.

(Picture credit score: Chucklefish)

Eastward is brimming with distinctive characters, and even NPCs who’re simply going about their days get to shine. The draw back is that when everybody within the room is bizarre and kooky, nobody actually stands out. It seems like being hit with a continuing wall of chatter the place it is laborious to inform what’s essential, as a result of every little thing is given equal weight. Plus, getting to essentially know sure characters just for them to by no means be talked about once more means it turns into laborious to really feel hooked up to anybody. 

Comparatively early on John attracts an admirer known as Uva, and the romance factor is sudden and simplistic, with a bunch of grannies who meddle in it, every one needing to have their very own ‘bit’ as a part of the comedy. They’re pointless and overbearing—with out this entire bit out the story would circulation somewhat higher. It’s a disgrace as individually the forged are all sensible, however they need to compete with one another to your consideration. John’s stoic steadfastness stands out as a result of he is the one one who by no means speaks.

(Picture credit score: Chucklefish)

Alongside the primary story are terminals that allow you to play an old-school 8-bit RPG known as ‘Earthborn’ that options traditional turn-based fight like in early Dragon Quest video games. It is surprisingly deep, and listening to varied characters enthuse about it in your journey makes the world Sam and John are exploring really feel much more actual. Cooking and discovering new recipes to create therapeutic gadgets is one other enjoyable distraction and incorporates a beautiful bouncy animation that is as joyous because the one in Breath of the Wild. Nonetheless, there is not almost sufficient house in your backpack to retailer your cooked gadgets or sufficient stoves to prepare dinner at, making it laborious to heal up in dungeons.

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