Eastward seems like going again to the times of ’80s anime on VHS, the place you could possibly expertise a clandestine and weird medium that you just couldn’t discover wherever else. As John and Sam, gamers should head Eastward (whoa, that’s the title!) throughout an odd and surreal universe. Whereas the characters and lore have quite a lot of coronary heart and carry this journey to the top with ease, the fight, puzzles, and boss encounters depart a bit to be desired. A wonderful rating supplies an unimaginable backdrop to pixel-perfect artwork, making a whimsical and enchanting environment for this quirky RPG that overtly pays homage to titles like Earthbound. In reality, inside Eastward, there’s a whole sport referred to as Earth Born, full with its personal (in-game foreign money) gacha system that’s a blast to play whenever you simply wish to take a break from advancing the primary story.
The story begins merely, with a frying pan weapon to swing furtively about, a Zelda-like construction of buying coronary heart containers, discovering keys to make your method via dungeons, and swapping between characters on the fly to resolve puzzles and deal with fights. John takes care of the tough preventing at first and makes use of ranged weapons and some kinds of bombs to interrupt partitions and tackle bosses. Sam can manipulate the world with vitality blasts, and she or he features much more highly effective vitality assaults that should be charged up earlier than unleashing them all through the journey. The fight stays simplistic all through the sport and isn’t actually satisfying.
Many dungeons embody puzzle segments the place the participant should management the characters individually, shifting them round to work together with the atmosphere to get previous elevators, overgrowth, and a mess of different obstacles. Most of those puzzles are easy to determine, however a couple of contain enemies that assault your characters whereas they’re defenseless (forcing you to swap management between them) or contain time trials that overstay their welcome late within the sport. Total, controlling John and Sam each out and in of fight feels alright, however there are just a few actually fascinating boss encounters and puzzles, and people are primarily discovered within the late sport.
Surprisingly, Eastward doesn’t dwell and die by its fight or puzzles. Eastward builds a world that feels actual, heartfelt, and intriguing. Many sport worlds are crafted round archetypal constructing blocks that draw upon established fantasy, sci-fi, and different well-traveled floor. Refreshingly, Eastward goes in a weird and quirky course and took me on a experience the place I by no means knew precisely the place issues had been headed. This journey the world over has you escaping an encroaching and lethal miasma. At instances, you additionally unravel different threads that have you ever exploring the world of organized crime, ideas of time journey, the pleasures of straightforward farm life, and making motion pictures with a decidedly uncommon crew.
The places and characters that fill these environments are memorable, and I wished to totally discover the city to verify I talked to each single NPC. I can’t bear in mind the final time I did that in an RPG, and it’s a testomony to what a effective world Pixpil has created. These cozy lore parts most likely would have labored with any artwork fashion, however Eastward’s mixture of spectacular music and pixelated look creates an environment that proves you don’t want 4K decision and ray-tracing to make one thing magical. A few of the coziness seeps into the gameplay with the cooking mechanic, the place you’ll be able to craft some superb meals that present potent buffs to assist tackle the tougher bosses. Whereas I’d like to elaborate extra on this world, the much less you realize about Eastward stepping into, the extra you’ll get out of exploring this enchanting panorama.
Whereas the fight isn’t something particular and the puzzles put on out their welcome, Eastward’s characters, setting, and sounds craft an unforgettable expertise. When you’re in search of one thing quirky, charming, and considerably surreal, you’ve discovered it.