Eastward - Review @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer reviewed Eastward:
Set in a world where humanity clings to pockets of civilization, Eastward takes inspiration from old RPGs and the likes of Earthbound, Zelda, and Studio Ghibli films to create beautifully desolate locations filled with a mix of puzzles and action. Despite looking like a pixelated old-school RPG it's utterly gorgeous, cramming detail into each environment just like a Ghibli movie. It's so much a tribute to the famed Japanese animation studio that you can find a version of Hayao Miyazaki himself hiding out in the starting town of Potcrock Isle.
Eastward follows John, a silent miner who uses a frying pan both for cooking and hitting people, and Sam, a young girl with white hair (which is how you know she's mysterious). The two develop a father-daughter-like relationship as they eke out a living in the underground town of Potcrock Isle, but when they're exiled to the wastelands of the surface world, they discover that things up top aren't what they seemed. It takes a little while to get going, but really starts to take off when you leave the first area and deeper mysteries are introduced.
As a tribute to RPGs of the '90s, Eastward is wonderful, with an atmosphere to be savoured. However, while the central mystery is captivating, it doesn’t quite nail bringing all of the different threads together, leaving a few plot holes open at the end. It also struggles to keep up the momentum and characters sometimes feel overwritten. I've enjoyed basking in sun-dappled forests and cowering in abandoned subway stations, but I was also willing certain bits to just get on with it. Eastward was never going to reach the same heights as its inspirations, but it makes a commendable effort.