Eastward is an adventure game you’ll fall in love with
ONE TO WATCH FOR 2019
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.