Exploring Eastward

“Eastward” is a charming action-adventure role-playing game (RPG) paying homage to older similar titles with a gorgeous pixel art style, loveable characters, and a simplistic, yet fun, combat style. 

The indie title was developed by Pixpil and released on Sept. 16, 2021, to the Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac computers. It is currently on sale until Nov. 17 for $14.99 on the Nintendo eShop and Steam. When not on sale, it can be purchased for $24.99. 

In “Eastward,” you play as a miner, John, and his adoptive daughter, Sam, as you go on a journey through a society on the brink of collapse. 

The duo lives in an underground village, mostly composed of people who have never ventured to the world above. 

In the years leading up to the game’s events, the air in the land above was poisoned. Those who could, escaped to underground villages to start anew. As new generations were born, there eventually was no one with memories of blue skies and green grass — except Sam. 

While in school, Sam insists she has seen the outside world, but no one believes her and calls her a liar. Ultimately, she runs away to prove her classmates wrong, and the real adventure begins. 

Playing as John, you chase after Sam with your trusty frying pan as you venture into the above-ground world. 

The combat and exploration methods are highly reminiscent of old dungeon crawlers, with each new map area crammed with tiny details for the player to discover. 

The combat is pretty simple in nature. If you take too many hits, you will get a game over and need to restart from your last save point. 

One downside to combat in “Eastward” is particularly apparent with bosses. The game comes with an epilepsy warning and anyone with epileptic tendencies must proceed cautiously. 

When attacks are successful, the enemy will flash white. It is not too noticeable with regular enemies, but when fighting a boss, it is especially jarring and painful on the eyes.  

There is a setting to reduce the flashing, and it will be a gray color instead of stark white, but those with epilepsy should still be cautious playing through “Eastward.”

Each boss is unique and has different mechanics to beat them with varying puzzle aspects,but it still uses the same core fighting mechanics introduced at the beginning of the game. 

As you go through the different areas of “Eastward,” you will encounter simple puzzles that help keep the exploration from getting boring. 

Although, explorating would still be entertaining without the additional puzzles along the way. Each area has so many small details making “Eastward” feel alive. 

From small animations of things in the foreground or the glistening of running water, “Eastward” never passes up the opportunity to include a small detail that will add to the post-apocalyptic atmosphere. 

“Eastward” is truly a gem you won’t want to miss out on. With loveable characters, a gorgeous pixel art style, a memorable soundtrack, and a perfectly handcrafted world, there is a lot to love about “Eastward.”

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