EASTWARD

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EASTWARD: REVIEW Both I and many of my colleagues constantly write that modern games, in order to stand out and become popular, need new ide...

EASTWARD: REVIEW

Both I and many of my colleagues constantly write that modern games, in order to stand out and become popular, need new ideas, well-developed mechanics, a non-trivial plot, and so on and so forth. But the authors of Eastward from the Shanghai Pixpil studio do not care about these arguments - they are sure (and absolutely right!) For this, it is enough to come up with a charming girl, somewhat reminiscent of the heroine of the cartoon "Masha and the Bear", and make us fall in love with her.


Now You Are My Daughter.

Eastward there is cute pixel art, classic gameplay in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda, plaque postapokalipsa, and a colorful world that you want to save from another infection. But all this fades into the background when Sam (this is the name of our heroine) is sincerely happy about something, smiles, and pulls his hands up, taking pictures with new friends as a keepsake. Or when he is equally sincerely sad when he learns that the remnants of the harvested crop will have to be burned. She's sorry for the vegetables, ears, or whatever they collected - they are alive ...

"You are a very sensitive girl!" - says to her with affection the woman who, according to the plot, once sheltered Sam. And she says this because she is lonely, wants a daughter like herself, and clearly makes plans for John, with whom the child travels all the way.

You can immediately recognize our heroine - first of all, by her long white hair. Secondly, well, who else can listen to the lesson while standing on a desk?

 

John is a man with a red nose who, when he found Sam, found a new meaning in life in caring for her. Since then, they have not parted. And if we continue the analogy with the above-mentioned domestic cartoon, he became the Bear for her. The only difference is that Sam never mocks him, but cares about him. And John is as quiet and kind as that bear. He silently smiles when the girl, squealing joyfully and waving a cloud of her white hair, runs to show him her new boots. And with the same silent sigh, she will put her shoulders on when she says that she is tired and wants to be on her hands.

Almost everything is cute.


And so, with a blond child on his shoulders, John will go on traveling the world of Eastward, breaking out of a gloomy underground settlement to the surface to see the sky and meet many colorful characters. And behind them will flow the deadly Miasma, which will destroy many settlements …

They almost never part, especially in the face of danger.

Both Sadness And Joy ... This Is How Light Works.

Yes, Eastward may seem cartoonish and childish, but it's a misleading impression. The sweetness and touchingness of Sam and her relationship with John; funny, kind or with their own cockroaches in the head, but invariably memorable characters; jokes ("John, look, they need a man who wants to save the world and knows how to cook well. It's like you!"); ironic situations; the ability to play the built-in JRPG Earth Born and even set records there; the scenes when the joyful Sam, clutching the lucky token presented to her, trots into the large hall of slot machines - all this is combined with a real, adult drama.


Is evil lurking around here somewhere?


The Miasma is to blame for everything, and this muck is somehow connected with ... Sam. Or her ghostly twin? She, the same small and blonde, periodically appears, communicates with Sam, says strange things about the path that she will learn about. And only our heroine sees her. And Sam herself seems strange to many - suffice it to say that in the opening video, John found her ... in a large flask filled with liquid.

The mystery of the origin of our girl, who is the ghost twin, what is happening here, and how it will end - this is the main intrigue of the fascinating story of Eastward, which, perhaps, slowly harnesses, but then tightly clings. The ending makes you cry, leaves questions, gives reason for interpretation, and, thank God, hints at a sequel.

Sometimes you don't know if it's Sam or that mysterious twin.

Doubles

The gameplay, one might say, is also slow to harness. At first, everything seems recognizable, funny, but simple-minded. Armed with a frying pan, John distributes "favors" to slugs in the gut-like tunnels of the dungeons, collects the gold that falls out of them, and finds it in chests to buy healing dishes that restore healthy hearts.

Some enemies hide in jugs or unexpectedly crawl out of the ground.


You can also look for special spheres, a certain number of which will increase the total reserves of those very hearts. And the ingredients, so as not to buy, but to prepare healing dishes yourself. It is the culinary process, where it is allowed to randomly mix fish, potatoes, mushrooms, and milk, wondering what will turn out, seems at first the most exciting, and it remains very useful.

And the riddles are mainly related to moving boxes and dropping bombs or throwing them sports to destroy obstacles. Plus, you can buy backpack upgrades, increasing the space for consumables. At some point, it seems that playing the built-in Earth Born is more interesting and stressful - there are many enemies, levels, and a cool final boss.

There is a whole cult of the fictional Earth Born here - she has both fans and her own manga.


But gradually the gameplay ceases to be just a background for the story and characters. Especially after Sam becomes a playable character too. Basically, she knows how to throw charges of energy - it removes obstacles (like flowers or the same Miasma) and stuns enemies.

She can also enter narrow passages where John will not squeeze through, twist valves to remove scalding steam, and stand on pressure plates to open doors. Accordingly, riddles appear for switching between characters and overcoming traps.

Yes, all of this is generally familiar. As well as the subsequent issuance of a shotgun to John, a flamethrower (allows you to destroy biting plants that interfere with passage) and other types of weapons. But, first of all, "familiar" is not equal to "bad." Secondly, there is a good design: there are many situations, they are played out in different ways - the same bushes, sometimes, it is not enough just to burn them, you also need to destroy the sources of their appearance.

And here are the bushes, and the sources of their growth, and Miasma, and the slab in the floor, and the heroes are still separated.


And now imagine that we first burn with napalm, and then run wildly and shoot these same sources (and there may be four of them at once!), Trying to make it before deadly bushes surround you again. Or we destroy the plants, freeing the way for Sam, who runs to the desired button and on the go destroys the clots of Miasma, and they appear again. Or you have to run away from the oncoming filth for a while, jumping on the raft and using the same frying pan to speed up.

In general, somewhere from the third chapter, when there are more traps and stronger enemies, and we are not allowed to cook healing dishes as often as before, the gameplay feels intense. And bosses are a lot more troublesome.

Some bosses are clearly stronger than others.


Eastward is a masterpiece that looks and feels not like a niche love message to our childhood hits but like a big, serious game. Rich, beautiful, soulful, and captivating - with a plot, characters, a combination of humor, drama, and tragedy. Who might not like her? Well, probably to the principled pixel-haters, although the art, the abundance of details and colors certainly look great. To some, the gameplay will probably seem too simple, although, I repeat, this is only at first. Some say that there are too many cutscenes, dialogues, and interesting, but essentially passing characters who, due to the peculiarities of the script, do not receive development - flicker and remain behind.

But this is like complaining about the redundancy of our world. You can study it, meet different people, listen to their stories, realizing that the majority will be left behind in your life. And you can go to your goal, build a career, take care of a family, and so on, without being distracted by anything else. So in  Eastward  - the authors came up with a large and interesting world, and you decide whether to look around and listen or follow the plot. I made this journey with pleasure, which is what I wish for you.

Pros: the plot, with all the clich├ęs about saving the world, keeps you in suspense; characters, destinies that do not leave indifferent; not open, but a large and interesting world that you want to explore; gameplay that seems primitive at first becomes intense and challenging; music evokes nostalgia, and graphics delight the work of artists.

Cons: not all bosses are created equal; it may seem to someone that there are a lot of pixels, cut-scenes, and dialogues, but little gameplay; lack of the Russian language.


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