Eastward – Unforgettable Adventure
Imagine yourself underground. That is the only thing you have ever known. Outside the underground, it is too dangerous to survive. Your only chance of survival is to heed the warnings and to stay away from the forbidden lands above. You have always been an excellent miner. For over 40 years you have had no desire to explore anywhere but the mines below Potcrock Isle. John, that was before you were the first person to dig up another human.
Eastward follows the story of two unlikely partners, John and Sam. Being a miner gives John skills at handling explosive bombs. There is nothing he can’t cook or beat to death with his trusty pan. Sam is a mysterious young girl who John found underground and has been looking after her ever since. There is not a thing that can tear them apart. Sams curious nature tends to get them both into sticky situations.
Beginning in Potcrock Isle with Sam at your side everything is going quite normal before you begin to hear whispers, legends and rumours. Sam says she has seen the forbidden land and that it is not the wasteland everyone claims it to be. Spurring her to go against the mayor and his laws to never leave Potcrock Island and run away from John and venture into the Ancient Ruins. Ruins which you find are a modern style mall with several levels. Determined to find sam, this is the first of many dungeon-like areas you’ll be traversing throughout Eastward.
The world of Eastward has been beautifully crafted using pixel art and 3D lighting. The lack of repetition in sprites and designs is quite impressive and no details have been neglected. Every set piece looks like it has been lovingly hand-crafted to look perfect and it shows.
Combat starts with only Johns frying pan and bombs. Incremental additions along the way to add complexity. Nothing feels too overwhelming as your arsenal of weapons and powers gradually increases. This approach has been handled well for both weapon and puzzle mechanics. After introducing a new puzzle-solving mechanic you will then often have to fight enemies or a boss with that embedded into the design. Using the players existing built up knowledge from a less stressful environment then plunging them into a boss fight using those mechanics is very masterfully executed.
The game also features a fully fleshed out mini-game called Earth Born which happens to be Sams favourite game and TV Show. Be sure to pick up a memory card for her to play! You’ll then be able to start playing Earth Born yourself. This mini-game can be skipped over entirely as it is not integral to the main story progression. Avid players will love this addition to the world. There are also short-lived mini-games that trickle throughout the main story. One of them lets John take his frying pan and hit for a home run.
Cooking is an integral part of the Eastward experience. Not only is it one of Johns defining character traits, but it also allows you to combine many assortments of ingredients that you find and turn them into usable health items and stat buffs. It always seemed quite enjoyable to create new dishes and find new recipes. Found recipes in the recipes page do not detail the amount of hearts it gives you. You won’t have to spend a ton of time min-maxing your cooking as throwing together random recipes seemed to work well enough. Connoisseurs will benefit from cooking what they need. Mastering the slots mini-game will help increase food effectiveness.
John is a man of few words and he is a silent protagonist through and through. Sam is where the player will experience the world and as such Sams child-like wonder of everything around her becomes your gateway to the world of Eastward. Her fears are your fears, her excitement is your excitement. John is the most helpful man in the world taking all tasks given to him by Sam and by extension the ones everyone has asked of her and him along the way.
Once caught up with Sam you encounter the first boss, a robot with a suction arm similar to the puzzles encountered in the dungeon. After defeating the boss John is injured and Sam encounters her evil apparition, not for the first time. John and Sam are tried for crimes against Potrock Isle and sacrificed to what the locals call “Charon”, a subway train that leads out of Potrock Isle and into the vast world. Once you make it out of there you’re greeted with an amazing sequence showing the lush and vibrant over-world just as Sam described. The big adventure is just beginning.
It took 22hrs for me to finish the game. Chucklefish estimates most players will take around 30 hours to complete. I had not been able to collect everything during my shorter finishing time. Completionists you should collect everything as they go because once you finish the game there is no chapter select option available yet. Otherwise, you’ll have to complete an entire second play-through to finish up collecting everything which is a little disappointing.
Eastward is a rollercoaster ride of emotions from start to finish. Eastward had me screaming in excitement, fear and anger from what was happening to the characters. The storytelling, art and music masterfully connect to create a real sense of the world that the Eastward characters inhabit.
Eastward was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher