While the combat isn’t anything special and the puzzles wear out their welcome, Eastward’s characters, setting, and sounds craft an unforgettable experience. If you’re looking for something quirky, captivating, and somewhat surreal, you’ve found it.
Eastward is an enjoyable and arresting adventure, with memorable characters, likeable humour and a central mystery that keeps you engaged throughout.
Eastward is never a copy, often a homage, something that extends to its twists and turns that I won't spoil here - though I will say that the post-apocalyptic setting is more than window dressing, and be warned the story does go to some dark places. The pacing to get there might be a little off at points, but there's so much to recommend besides. I came for the beautiful visuals, and I stayed for the type of kind, warm game not many developers make anymore.
And it's because of that, it's easy to recommend Eastward. Even if the final hours left me scratching my head somewhat, I won't forget the people John and Sam meet or the places they find themselves in. Pixpil's tale is a slice of sci-fi that could well be taken from one of Zelda's darker timelines, but it does well to be unique and utterly memorable.
Eastward is a beautiful love letter to old school RPGs and arcade games, bursting with unique characters, amazing attention to detail, stunning retro-pixel artwork, and a moving story that is bound to stay with you.
All of that said, denouncing Eastward’s strengths and successes for any of the above would be disingenuous. It is a remarkable game that, while retro in ambition, will paradoxically go on to inspire the drive and uniqueness of future projects. It is clever, vibrant, and unapologetically original, and unless some magnificent twist of fate occurs over the next three months, it will undoubtedly go down as one of the best games of the year.
It's all in a day's work for this unlikely pair of world-saving do-gooders, but gosh darnit if I didn't also enjoy every second of it. It may be slow to get going, but once Sam and John find their feet, Eastward roars to life like nothing else. Pixpil have created a world of exquisite detail here, and its winsome cast are easily the best bunch of NPCs you'll meet this side of Toby Fox's Undertale. It's been a long time since I've cared this much about the everyday folks in an RPG, but as Eastward handsomely proves, pigs really do fly in this excellent retro adventure.