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Something to look forward to: Nintendo ended its August 11 indie showcase stream by revealing that developer Pixipil and publisher Chucklefish's Eastward will launch on September 16 as a timed console exclusive. Pixipil later revealed it will also launch the game on PC and Mac on that same day.
The game has been a standout among pixel-art indie games since Pixpil started showing off screenshots and videos of it in 2015. A single-player game, Pixpil calls Eastward an action adventure RPG. Players will control two characters -- a digger named John and a mysterious girl named Sam, as they engage in puzzle, hack n' slash, and 2D shooter gameplay, traveling across a near-future world by rail.
The developer admits the gameplay was inspired by games like Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda, while the art was inspired by anime like Macross, Akira, and Memories. It also features music by composter Joel Corelitz (Hohokum, The Unfinished Swan, The Tomorrow Children, Gorogoa).
"Welcome to the charming world of Eastward - population declining! Journey through a society on the brink of collapse. Discover delightful towns, strange creatures and even stranger people! Wield a trusty frying pan and mystic powers on an adventure into the unknown…" states the game's Steam page.
When Eastward became a finalist at the 2020 Independent Game Festival for excellence in visual art, Pixpil spoke to Gamasutra. "The aesthetic of the game is a 'decayed' world, but we wanted to make it look lively because people are still living there, actively, in their own unique way," said artist Hong Moran. "There are more than 200 different characters in the game, and we try our best to make each of them convincing and unique."
Pixpil claims Eastward should have around 30 hours of gameplay, and will launch at $24.99 with pre-orders already available through Steam, GOG, and the Humble Store. You can see the launch trailer above. IGN also recently shared 25 minutes of exclusive gameplay.
Eastward is Pixpil's first game since the 10-person team was established in Shanghai in 2015 by Tommo Zhou, Ye Feng, and Moran. In 2018 it announced a publishing partnership with Chucklefish, which has accumulated a track record of publishing successful pixel art games like Stardew Valley, Wargroove, Starbound, and Starmancer.