East­ward is an ad­ven­ture game you’ll fall in love with

ONE TO WATCH FOR 2019

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FOR­MAT: PC | PUB­LISHER: CHUCK­LE­FISH | DE­VEL­OPER: PIX­PIL | RE­LEASE: TBC 2019 | PLAY­ERS: 1

It’s easy to fall in love with East­ward. It takes just sec­onds for it to bur­row deep into the sub­con­scious, re­turn­ing to the fore of your mind when­ever you need a lit­tle boost to get through a dif­fi­cult day. Its evoca­tive style and up­beat chip­tune sound­track work to en­sure that this cre­ative en­deav­our – a part­ner­ship be­tween de­vel­oper Pix­pil and Stardew Val­ley pub­lisher, Chuck­le­fish – is in­stilled as one of the most an­tic­i­pated in­die games of 2019, an ex­pe­ri­ence that looks as al­lur­ing as it does ut­terly charm­ing thanks to its artis­tic di­rec­tion.

But there’s more to this whim­si­cal game than mere nos­tal­gia for Earth­bound and The Leg­end Of Zelda alone. Sure, it looks great and, yeah, it sounds even bet­ter, but we were a lit­tle sur­prised to find that this is an ad­ven­ture with more to it than meets the eye. You need to know about the two star­ring char­ac­ters, John and Sam. The duo awaken from iso­la­tion be­neath the planet’s sur­face, emerg­ing to the out­side world to dis­cover a land­scape in ruin, with hu­man­ity’s pres­ence di­min­ished and strange crea­tures de­scend­ing upon what re­mains of civil­i­sa­tion. From there, of course, you set out to save it.

East­ward is a sin­gle-player ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s one that comes with dual pro­tag­o­nists. You’ll be able to dy­nam­i­cally switch be­tween the two through­out the course of the game, us­ing their in­di­vid­ual skills to help take on com­bat­ive threats and solve per­plex­ing puz­zles. It’s the mo­ments that the pair come to­gether where the game finds its heart though, as the duo set about in­ves­ti­gat­ing and in­tro­duc­ing them­selves to the rem­nants of so­ci­ety. It’s a game packed with char­ac­ters, and it’s here where it finds its own, with the cast of weird and won­der­ful towns­folk es­tab­lish­ing East­ward as a game pos­i­tively brim­ming with per­son­al­ity.

That all said, we’d be re­miss if we didn’t cy­cle back to the vi­su­als. East­ward looks in­cred­i­ble; Pix­pil has de­liv­ered a fu­sion be­tween 2D art and 3D ef­fects that brings life to its spa­ces. The stu­dio has achieved this by com­bin­ing an open-source de­vel­op­ment sys­tem, MOAI, with a pro­pri­etary en­gine of its own de­sign. It’s a beau­ti­fully lit and won­der­fully staged ad­ven­ture game, re­tain­ing the aes­thetic of a 2D game with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any of the depth or am­bi­ence so com­monly seen in 3D re­leases.

What we’re try­ing to say is that Chuck­le­fish con­tin­ues to prove it has an ex­cel­lent eye when it comes to its pub­lish­ing en­deav­ours. East­ward is sched­uled to land next year on PC (other for­mats are TBC), and we have a feel­ing that it’s go­ing to be one of those in­die games that de­mands your at­ten­tion.

AC­CESS | East­ward | PC

Be­low: Joel core­litz (Un­fin­ished Swan, Gor­goa) and hy­per­duck sound­works (Dust: An Elysian Tail,The Ad­ven­ture Pals) are han­dling the au­dio and sound­track for the game, a close col­lab­o­ra­tion that is de­liv­er­ing in­cred­i­ble re­sults.

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