This review contains spoilers
The combat and story really kept me hooked. The characters are all very charming. There is a lot this game pulls from, but doesn't directly emulate, such as The Legend of Zelda and Earthbound.
There are a couple of hangups, however. First, there is an crash that can happen every once in a while. However, the game is very generous with auto-saving, so it's not likely you'll lose a lot of progress, unless you were in a cutscene. And speaking of which, not being able to skip cutscenes was a bit of an annoyance. Particularly because of the above error.
The story has some pacing issues, and there is a lot left unresolved and/or unexplained. Especially with Solomon. We never figure out who or what he was supposed to be other than a recurring villain. Charon is hardly explained and some of the game's biggest mysteries are hardly touched. Who created the MIASMA? Why is humanity being purged?
Warts and all, the game is still a genuine delight. The settings were some of the best designed I've ever seen, the game was very charming, and kept me very engaged during its 20 hour runtime.
one of the most amazing writing I've seen in a game like this. the art is wonderful and the gameplay was very fun. the puzzles weren't simple nor difficult and the combat was decent. i guess my only minor gripe is the random crashes between loading areas? otherwise un par with other pixel games like owlboy
¿Cuál es mi Indie del año? Pues Eastward.
Un juego de rol con una historia que superó mis expectativas, el cariño puesto visualmente, en el Soundtrack e historia son impresionantes, casi siempre sorprende, el juego incita a la exploración y hacer misiones opcionales, incluso cocinar puede llegar a ser entretenido, con unos personajes geniales y carismáticos, es imposible que no te encariñes con uno de ellos.
Realmente desearía que sacaran una secuela, ha sido uno de los mejores Indies que he jugado, aunque tiene ciertos fallos. Unos de sus defectos más notables es el combate, demasiado básico, solo se basa en golpear, hacer ataques cargados y usar distintas armas, Sam solo sirve para aturdir enemigos, eso es todo.
Mi gran problema es John, se siente como si no estuviera, realmente a veces dudo si sea buena idea hacer personajes silenciosos para empatizar con ellos, esta vez no fue así, Sam se lleva todo el protagonismo, incluso personajes secundarios tienen más relevancia que el.
También hay secciones en el juego que se sienten como relleno para extender el tiempo de juego, lo bueno es que no es demasiado y no llega a molestar, pero lo más horrible es al completarlo, no te dan la oportunidad de explorar para hacer el 100%, te dejará antes del Final Boss, realmente detesto que hayan hecho esto, espero que saquen un parche con un New Game+, un selector de episodio o incluso dejarte volver a zonas inaccesibles. A pesar de tener sus problemas, deberías de darle una oportunidad.
im extremely dissapointed in this. i've been waiting for this game since 2018 cause the game grabbed my attention with its incredible graphics and top notch pixel-art. but beyond that, there's not much remarkable about this game. I'm not invested in any of the characters (except Sam), the combat is really boring (at least for me, it reminded me a lot to 2D zeldas, which i personally dislike. I don't think they're bad they're just not my cup of tea) and also i've encountered some technical problems such as frame stutters or some minimal graphical bugs. I'm not interested in the slightest on finishing this.
This review contains spoilers
First bit of this will be spoiler-free. I'll label the spoilers when I get to them.
There is a lot to like about this game. There are also quite a few things to take issue with. I'm not sure how to feel on the overall experience.
Let's start with the good. First of all, the pixel art is PHENOMENAL. Hands down the best looking pixel art game I've ever played. Each character, even the unimportant NPCs all have their own unique animations. I can't imagine how fucking long that took. It adds so much to the characters.
Speaking of which, nearly every character you come across on your journey is great, actually introduced some new favs of mine, like Isabel and Alva. Isabel especially, she has a great arc. And then sam is just adorable, stealing the show for most of the adventure. She's great in every scene she shows up in. Her childlike wonder is infectious, and surprisingly doesn't come with the annoyances that usually accompany kids. She's all the good parts without any of the bad. Best character in the game. Not my favorite, but the best.
Sam is also the cornerstone of the whole plot. There's this entire mystery that surrounds her which keeps the story moving. It's clear she's not a normal kid... but then what is she? Very intriguing... although I'm not sure it was realized to its fullest potential. I'll cover that in the spoiler section.
The actual gameplay is pretty good too. I like swapping between John and Sam to solve puzzles or defeat enemies. Sam's ability to stun things is pretty fun to work with, albeit it does make most encounters ludicrously simple. Stun, smack with pan 6-7 times, dead. Boom, easy. Clearly, not the strong point of the game.
To help with combat, there's upgrades and cooking. Upgrades can be gotten after finding enough Gear Parts, which are scattered about the world. Adds an extra layer of exploration that I quite enjoyed. The upgrades themselves aren't terribly interesting, merely just "more damage" or "more storage" so that's something I felt could've been worked on. You may also find heart... orbs. I forget what they're called. Basically Heart Pieces, find four, get an extra heart. Easy peasy.
Food is also obtained as minor rewards, which in turn is used for cooking. Cooking's fine, it takes a little too long, and there isn't a whole lot of variety to it. Hell, I didn't even know you could add spices to it until I was an hour away from beating the game. I assume you're supposed to buy them, but I got through just fine with just energy drinks and whatever I found in chests.
Alright. It's time for the bad. Let's start with the elephant in the room. John. From a gameplay perspective, John makes a lot of sense. He's your brawn, the other half of your puzzle solving duo, the... chef. (You can only cook with John in front, which is a little strange.) However, from a story perspective, John makes no godDAMN sense.
John is a silent protagonist, meaning he never talks. But the thing is, he doesn't even talk in-game. Characters literally point out how John never actually speaks. It's funny the first time, but after a while you're just like "please just talk". They don't even do a thing where they make the ending impactful by having him speak then. No, he doesn't say a single word the entire game. He doesn't even express EMOTION. He's just a solid brick wall you play as for some reason. Why do I play as him? I would MUCH rather play as Sam the entire time, she's clearly the main character. Let me play as her???
I get John's supposed to be Sam's parental figure throughout the story, but there's no fucking emotion there. There are two other characters who could've done that much better. William and Alva. William is just a nice, friendly dude who maybe isn't perfect, but he's still a nice guy. And Alva just jives with Sam so well. Alva gave her SHOES. Did John ever do that? NO. Fuck John.
At the end of the game, you're shown flashbacks of John's time with Sam. It's supposed to be really moving, but I felt nothing simply because John felt nothing.
Now, I don't hate silent protagonists. They can be done really well, a la Lea CrossCode, she actually emotes and has feelings. But generally, silent protagonists are simply inferior to ones that actually speak. John encompasses everything wrong with a silent protagonist.
There was a point early on in the story where I really thought John was going to die. That would've been really interesting. Advertise the whole game as making you think he's the main character, give him a whole bunch of slots for upgrades, then BAM. JK, he's dead. Here's Sam, go nuts with her bubble magic. Would've been a great way to progress the story. Give Sam some motivation instead of just kicking her out of the village. That's when you could've met William or Alva on the surface, and they could serve as your second character. But alas...
There's one small issue I have with the game around the midpoint. Right after the climax of the previous chapter, Sam, John, William, and Daniel head east towards Ester City. Before you get there however, there's this... weird fuckin' part where you get on this train called "Monkollywood". Basically an accurate portrayal of modern day Hollywood, filled with, you guessed it, monkeys.
It is by far the silliest portion of the game, and it does not need to be there. They KINDA justify it at the end, but it's really just filler. It's made worse by the fact that you go from the highest high of the game thus far, to... whatever the fuck this is. I'unno, it was a weird decision. I think I get why some people have gripes with Mother 3 now.
Now... those're really the only issues I have with Eastward. Granted, John is a BIG fuckin' issue, but y'know. However, there is one other thing I'd like to touch upon. It's no secret that media treats queer characters very poorly, and unfortunately, Eastward is no different. I will admit that Alva and Isabel are some of my favorite characters in the game, they're just so fucking cute together... when Alva's there at least.
There are three fake-out deaths in this game. John, at the very beginning. Daniel, near the end. And Sam at the very very end. Alva is the only major character in Eastward that dies, and we don't even get to see it happen. She gets injured off-screen, spends a few hours in a coma, and then dies off-screen as well. If there had been any other major character deaths before that point, it wouldn't bother me as much, but since there AREN'T, it feels intentionally malicious. Isabel doesn't even get a proper send off to her character. We don't know if she moved on, killed herself, or what. It's left super ambiguous and just doesn't sit well with me. They deserved better. Alva didn't need to die.
Also, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Isabel's arc for the most part, I just think the writers could've been handled it in a more tasteful and satisfying manner. MAYBE IF JOHN WASN'T IN THE GAME THINGS WOULD'VE GONE BETTER.
I think that pretty much wraps up my thoughts on Eastward. An otherwise great game marred by John. Definitely worth it if you can stand John though.