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Choo choo! All aboard the Indie Express! Destination: Eastward

06 October 2021 - 14:41 By Cody Nery Thomson
Each element of the game is carefully curated to set the mood of the story as you play through it.
Each element of the game is carefully curated to set the mood of the story as you play through it.
Image: Supplied

This article was brought to you by NAG


It’s a little disappointing that over the past few years there have been games that have had terrible releases, causing the whole “anti-pre-order movement”. It feels like it’s put a major downer on hype trains. Personally, I still board those hype trains when I see something that really looks like it’s going to be good.

I was on all aboard with Anthem, and I didn’t think it was THAT bad. I also rode the Cyberpunk train all the way to launch, and although I could see the bugs affected a lot of people and their gameplay enjoyment, I still had a jam cyber-punking around Night City. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’ve drifted towards the Indie scene a little more over the years.

Here the hype trains, although small, are flying out the station left, right, and center, and there are very few people out there that will come take a giant why-are-you-pre-ordering-this-game-do-you-not-remember-such-and-such-game poop on your tracks. There’s hype here, there’s love here, there are great games here. It’s a vaab boet.

The game does involve a lot of reading, as it’s not voice acted, even if each character’s text has a different sound effect.
The game does involve a lot of reading, as it’s not voice acted, even if each character’s text has a different sound effect.
Image: Supplied

Which brings me to Eastward, I’ve been riding this train for years and I’m so flippin’ excited that it’s finally hit our consoles and PCs like the bullet train that it really is. Six years to be developing an Indie title seems like a long time, but you can see, hear, and feel all the love and effort that’s been poured into the game.

If you’re not that big into the Indie or the handheld scene, I’m talking about the Switch here, or you’ve just had your gaze set Westward, Eastward is an Indie RPG that has some old-school handheld game elements to it, an amazing SFX and soundtrack combination and some pretty awesome, modern, pixel-art styling.

OUT NOW on PC, Mac & Nintendo Switch: ◆ https://store.steampowered.com/app/977880/Eastward ◆ https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/eastward-switch/

Eastwards follows the story of John, a humble, Ron Swanson, teddy bear of a man that has not much to say, and Sam, a young, excitable girl with a mysterious twist, who does enough chatting for both John and herself, on their journey to explore the world above ground.

Armed with your trusty frying pan, which you use to cook as well, some time freezing, bubble magic, and a variety of other useful tools, you take on the world of Eastward through some simple, yet challenging battles, rewarding puzzles, classically staged boss fights and one heck of a rich story.

Each element of the game is carefully curated to set the mood of the story as you play through it. The soft art style is dulled or enlivened and the retro-synth soundtrack ups or lowers its tempo to set the mood.

Of course, the facial expressions quite easily display the feelings of each character, I loved how they represented the classic text emojis of a great big smile as colon, capital D (:D) or a little concerned as colon, slanty thingy (:/, yes, I know it’s called a forward slash), it made me giggle and reminisce every time they popped up. Another exciting element of the game that reminds me of the “good ol’ days” is the dopamine-packed sound effects that play when you discover a secret area or open a chest and the celebratory jig that the characters do always put a smile on my face.

The game does involve a lot of reading, as it’s not voice acted, even if each character’s text has a different sound effect, but the reading comes in nice, bite-sized chunks and didn’t seem to be too much, especially considering the games chugs along at a bit of a slower pace than some other classic RPGs.

Choo choo! All aboard the Indie Express! Destination: Eastward
Choo choo! All aboard the Indie Express! Destination: Eastward
Image: Supplied

There are just so many little things in the game that kept popping up and just made me enjoy it even more, I couldn’t recommend it enough. The story bounces between grim and delightful, the animations are the right amount of cute and chunky, the sound effects slip through your soul like an ice-cold drink on a hot summer’s day. The gameplay was never dull, the puzzles were simple and smart, and the boss fights had me clenching once or twice.

The only negative I have for Eastward is that I didn’t play it on the Switch, this game is perfect for getting lost in your own personal corner, no matter where you are.

BONUS CONTENT:There is even a game within the game! An 8-bit, turn-based RGP called Earthborn that you can grind through for a little bit of “down-time” is playable within Eastward.

Game-ception!

BOTTOM LINE
Eastward is a great game, that I thoroughly enjoyed. And although it pulls a lot of influence from many older generation titles, making it a reminiscent gem, it still sits at its own seat at the table.
PROS
Awesome soundtrack Great sound effects Artwork and animations are on point A fun, sometimes dark story
CONS
Some people might find it a bit of a slow burner, personally I didn’t Maybe a little pricey for an indie title, but well worth it


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