Eastward is a good game that falters in a few key moments- but lets be real your main reason to play this game is because you saw the beautiful sprite work and wanted to join in on a beautiful world. That's what I wanted out of this game and that's what I got, the locations are beautiful, the characters are spectacularly animated giving them tons of life- visually this game is oozing with charm, and the music adds to it well.
The combat is simply enough, it's a top down zelda so its relatively solid- for some reason I enjoy this style of gameplay more when its not a zelda game but that's not really here nor there. I think they did a good job with having interesting boss fights where you always kind of know what to do but its still different and unique each time- coupled with that great animation and sprite work and most big fights feel dramatic.
Where Eastward fumbles is in various parts of the narrative, which isn't a bad story in the slightest but every so often it relies on telling us over showing us, and then sometimes refusing to show us leaving the player confused on exactly what's going on. Its not as big of a deal at the start of the game when you're still being capture by the mystery but as you get to the back half of the game you find you're not certain what fate felled characters that are the driving force of the story. By the time you get to the end of Eastward's journey it starts to answer questions... but the answers it gives you are ones you've been able to deduce and the questions you STILL have go unanswered which takes away from the experience.
a story doesn't need to answer every question but it needs to answer more than Eastward did- if it had answered more clearly about the miasma the subject matter that went with it I would be able to accept the ending events of the game better, because I had more closure for other parts of the story- having unanswered questions followed up by an extremely open ending is what creates some dissatisfaction in me, as I don't feel accomplished in more aspects of the narrative.
That said maybe there's stuff I missed that would explain more, I can't claim to say that I've seen every inch of this game- No I spent more time cooking because I loved the cute little animation that made me feel like I was making a meal for my child. And honestly all I need out of a game is a dad and their child so i was fulfilled in that aspect from the start.
a super interesting thing that at once feels like it’s missing huge chunks of vital connective tissue and has too many things going on - it’s got real high points and extremely low lows, and I walked away from the game feeling like I knew barely anything about it despite having played for 20+ hours
in conclusion eastward is a land of contrasts
Eastward is a slow game. I put that out there not as a criticism but as a fact, and if it doesn't click with you then that's 100% fine; poor pacing can completely drain interest in a game for some people (and has done so for me in the past).
But slow doesn't necessarily have to mean bad. Eastward is very deliberate in its slower structure and I think the game as a whole actually benefits from that. I believe that's partly due to how I played it - no more than 2 hours a day, partly sticking to the chapter structure of the game - but also as it allows the player to engross themselves in the (very beautifully animated) world and learn more about the characters dotted around each of the various locations you travel through.
I also quite liked how the overarching story itself is sometimes not super explicit in how it's told, instead relying on you to put pieces together from conversations with various townsfolk either in side missions or just from general dialogue. And let's talk about these characters a bit more as while this game is certainly one of those 'it's about the journey' kind of stories, 'the people you meet along the way' are just as important. They're well-written and their dialogue doesn't come across as forced or unnatural and most important of all I was interested in what they had to say.
As for the non-story sections, well the combat is simple but has a satisfying loop and some of the weapons you get are pretty fun to play with. There are also some decent puzzles in play as you explore these monster-addled areas with two characters who can split off and each have separate abilities to solve these conundrums. There's even a very basic 8-bit roguelite RPG included that is surprisingly fun to play through (and draws some parallels to the main game world).
Finally I'd like to touch upon the nature of endings in video games, and media in general. There is occasionally the idea out there that if a story isn't wrapped up neatly with a bow that explains everything then it hasn't done a good job but I think that's an uncharitable read on things. As long as a story reaches a conclusion that feels natural and feels thematically correct then I don't really see an issue in certain elements not being fully explained or elaborated upon. Eastward takes this route and as with the pacing issues I think some people will inevitably leave disappointed, but the ending in play felt natural for Sam and John and I'm very impressed with how everything in the game turned out.
Eastward probably doesn't quite reach the heights of being my favourite game of 2021, but it is one of my favourite game experiences and one I'd seriously recommend to anyone after a slow burn road trip adventure.
This review contains spoilers
A wonderful game with artwork as appealing as any game I've ever played. The music is fantastic. Unfortunately I feel like it was really lacking in the writing department. It had some good stuff there and some real good moments, but it feels like it really needed something. If it had had the kind of whimsical wit of a Mother game I think it could have been an All-Timer.
I really enjoyed my time with eastward. The world is so charming, Sam is a cutie, love the ost and the story/writing kept me enthralled. The art was vivid and popped in every section, and the combat/puzzles were really entertaining and fun to solve. I damn near did everything in this game. Definitely one of the games I'll be coming back to over the years.
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. There are three fake-out deaths in this game, and one real death, (at least in terms of important characters). John, who gets injured at the very beginning of the game. Daniel, who gets blown apart just before the final chapter. And Sam who… “sacrifices” herself at the very very end of the game. Now, I hate fake-out deaths, but there’s a bigger issue at play here. The only character who dies in this game is Alva, who, if you don’t know, is an explicitly gay character, (or at least wlw, I’unno, she could be bi or pan or something). Obviously that’s kind of an issue if you know how common that trope is. But that’s not all, the way she dies is in poor taste too, she gets inured off-screen, spends like half the game in a coma, and then dies off-screen as well. What makes it worse, is that Isabel doesn't even get a proper sendoff to her arc and character. It literally just fades to black and you never see her again.
It fucking SUCKS because Alva is legitimately one of my favorite characters in the whole game. As a queer character, and even just a character in general, she is handled very well for the time she gets. Her interactions with Isabel are adorable and heart-warming, and she even acts like a mother figure for Sam (Which I guess makes it even more painful when she dies, and it works, but like… c’mon, you let JOHN live and not Alva?). You see the two conflicting forces at play here? To me, it sounds like there was some conflict during development with two very opposing viewpoints, and this is what they settled on. This whole scenario has me very mixed, if other characters had died and STAYED dead, I might not be as bothered by this. If we were actually shown how she dies, I might not be as bothered by this. And if she lived… well this wouldn’t even be an issue.
If I were to rewrite this whole shebackle, I would’ve gone about it in one of two ways.
1. Solomon, one of the (kinda) prominent villains in the game is shown injuring Alva before you fight him. (In the actual game, Solomon isn’t involved in the slightest, but you still fight him for some reason.) Then, towards the end of the game, after you’ve had your duel with Isabel, you’re shown a flashback of Alva’s final moments with her. Very touching, very heart-rending. Maybe you see Isabel kill herself after you leave, just so she can be with her. Or like, the implication of such so it doesn’t get too gruesome.
2. Starts the same as the first scenario, as I really enjoy the arc Isabel goes through, but instead at the end of the game, Alva is healed through whatever bullshit goes on with Charon. Maybe in exchange for Alva’s safety, she offers to be controlled by Mother so you still get your duel with her. Then at the end Alva could come in and bring her back to her senses… or something like that, I’unno. The Charon/Lab/Mother stuff is all super vague and I barely understand it. Point is, because it’s so vague, a scenario could’ve panned out like that and it still would’ve been believable.
Point is, I don’t think Alva should’ve died, but if she were going to, there were ways to go about it that didn’t feel so empty and heartless. Who knows? Maybe iF JOHN WASN’T AROUND, THINGS WOULD’VE PANNED OUT DIFFERENTLY.
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.
Sono molte le cose presenti in questo gioco che fanno pensare possa essere un grande titolo, ma proseguendo nella propria partita si finisce col constatare che fin troppi dei suoi elementi non riescono a emergere da una condizione di superficialità. Che si parli di worldbuilding, di scrittura dei personaggi (in particolare di uno dei due protagonisti), di uso delle risorse. Ci sono alcuni dungeon con puzzle anche interessanti, mai davvero complicati ma che rendono piacevole il titolo. Anche qui, però, si cade, per esempio, in un difetto: per la risoluzione di alcuni dei puzzle, si fa uso di vari tipi di bomba, che possono altrimenti essere usate per danneggiare i nemici. Ecco: fatta eccezione per rare casistiche, non si avrà mai davvero una necessità di utilizzarle, queste varianti. Anzi, in un'unica, specifica circostanza è necessario utilizzare l'ultima di queste varianti.
Idee particolarmente interessanti vengono presentate occasionalmente ma in circostanze fin troppo brevi (es.: una tecnica di teletrasporto nell'ultima parte di gioco + boss che si traduce in un vero e proprio modo di schivare piuttosto nuovo).
Il gioco avrebbe sicuramente giovato dall'assenza di un sistema di combattimento e dalla presenza dei soli puzzle ambientali.
This review contains spoilers
Man...it's been quite a road to here. Eastward initially caught my eye two years ago in a Summer indie direct. The trailer music was banging, and the vibrant, detailed pixel art helped it stand out to me amongst all the revolving door of dull indie games.
If there's one thing I can't gush enough about Eastward, it's just how pretty it is. Seriously, I took like over 100 screenshots during my 23 hrs of playing because I could not help myself. I really enjoyed the puzzles, although it felt like the devs could have went a bit more ham with some of the level mechanics at points.
The combat really kills this game as it is just not very exciting or deep. The entirety of the game boils down to Sam for stun and john for job done. John's attack windup is also somewhat sluggish which makes dealing with swarming enemies a little annoying at times. I much preferred fighting the bosses over the mobs as I thought pretty much every boss was well designed, simple fun.
I am debating on whether or not if I like the overall story as it still feels very typical of the rpg "end of humanity/civilisation" trope. Regardless, I still found myself endeared to a couple of the characters and it helped me enjoy the adventure more.
This game isn't perfect but it is comfy, and sometimes that's all you really need.
Really wanted to like this! Its really good at capturing this goofy but melancholy tone. The pixel art is gorgeous and the story is really willing to take its time on just a slow journey.
But the protagonist is just so... boring. He doesn't emote or react or talk and I'm supposed to buy into that he's this sweet silent type who all the girls are into, but all he wants is to be a good dad!!! And it just doesn't work for me. Sam, the daughter character, is such a more active force in the plot and emotional arc and she's playable, and it just makes John feel... pointless. And seeing characters praise him despite being so nothing just got actively draining over time.
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.
Switching between Sam and John in combat is a must since you can use the stun from Sam to wail on enemies with John. It's a nice combat gimmick that takes a little time to get used to.
The music is just great. I love so many of the tracks. The final phase of the last boss has a great track especially.
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.