East, Review. Great Trip
We introduce visual surprises that show a clear reference in which future 2D games will look.
In late 2015, the account of Pixpil, a small independent group based in Shanghai, was born on Twitter. From there they started modestly, joining the thriving community of pixel art developers and artists on the social network, retweeting the work of others and beginning to promote their initial work: East, which will quickly find a place in the minds and hearts of fans thanks to brilliant art that shone from the first images. The popularity of the project would increase in 2018 when London-based Chucklefish, editor of Stardew Valley, announced it would be added to its apparent portfolio; And it would skyrocket in 2019 when it would appear in Nintendo Direct as an exclusive temporary console for Switch, automatically putting itself on the radar of the Kyoto company’s millions of fans.
And it is the choice of it out first on PC and Switch couldn’t be more resolute (and luck). The influence of the classic Legend of Zelda is more obvious, though the structure, objectives or sense of adventure are different. There are two souls coming together in the East: a story, with a complex plot full of tights, characters full of personality and much closer than we would have expected before we played it. The other, which can be played, is in confined spaces, when the shadow of Kyoto is understood, with a system that strikes a balance between solving and solving puzzles to progress in a “fort”. All of this is linked and integrated around a detailed, careful and rich artistic sense from beginning to end, in which there is a patent homage to Hayao Miyazaki’s way of building a world (which even has its own NPC in the world, for fear that its spiritual presence there was not clear enough in some aesthetic details).
Legend of Zelda arose out of Miyazaki’s mind
Eastward, for sure, one of the most beautiful “2D” games ever made. We use quotes since to achieve this result, the study did not hesitate to combine technologies and engines to achieve a result that would be outside the scope of more traditional approaches. Have a clear purpose, aesthetically, think about the perceptions you are looking for in your life, and then put technology to meet all of this. As is often the case in the most stand-out projects, this was achieved by creating its own engine, which would meet the creative needs of the team, while also incorporating features of the Moai open development platform to optimize the work and without the retell wheel.
Certainly, the traditional part of the stage is extremely important in Eastward ‘s striking finish. The amount of detail in each location, whether exterior or interior, is amazing and there are no shortcuts that are worth it, it is pure and hard pixelart works all over, with talent, imagination and taste. Technology is not something to help you, whether you have a vision or not, devise a home where the houses are boats in a dry dock, and have a small lake on its roof with a duck. All the main sites are loaded with such data and that is part of an irresistible pile that will cause us to lose ourselves in every new area we visit.
But with that great premise add additional techniques and ideas that are more typical of 3D. As Pixpil members explained in an interview with Red Bull: “the light has deferred shading, which allows our designer to put more lights on the level and have more control in the setting. We also use a smart system for the location and orientation of sprites to make them 3D visible while maintaining the 2D aesthetic. “But other than the technique used, that needs to be emphasized the result is truly delightful and a benchmark for a future where the crop has already been raised.
From the outset, Eastward placed himself at the center of his public disclosure its two main characters: John, stock demolition miner; and Sam, a loving girl with long white hair who lives with him even though they are not father and daughter or have a blood relationship. There is the personality that the first assumes Link’s role as a dumb hero, but with some specific expressions to illustrate how he feels in certain situations, while Sam on the other side talks up and down and what the storytelling is and the emotion is part of the plot and a connection to the myriad of characters we meet along the way.
Total visual victory
The duality does not end in the story, since the two argue active role in action using a dynamic system of change that you must understand and harness in order to move forward. John, armed with a frying pan, is able to hit enemies directly with a bow strike (reminiscent, of course, of Link ‘s classic sword strike in the 2D versions). You can also add bombs that can be used to open cracked walls (wink, wink), clear paths, fight enemies or activate devices. As you progress in the adventure, you will gain access to new tools and weapons, whose offensive force is divided by its usefulness so that you will be able to progress in certain areas. For example, tall and imperceptible grasses will prevent us from certain areas until we find a flame-retardant that will allow us to eliminate them – and, when we do, we will have to move quickly to the orbits facilitated by the pan or the destroy a gun. the growth of those obstacles.
For him, Sam can’t attack enemies, but he is able to emit a ray of light that makes them paralyzed, as well as have other functionalities that are seen as the story progresses and his powers at development. The idea is that with a button we change direct control between one and the other as we need it, and the other moves into a passive follow-up role. But we are often asked to separate them, since there are puzzles of all kinds that can only be solved with their teamwork and in parallel from different fields.
From the start you can see Pixpil’s taste for puzzles, perfectly integrated with enemies to create a coherent and harmonious experience. The enemies come back when you re-enter the room and while they are not particularly dangerous or difficult, they can be a nuisance to eliminate or avoid, depending on the pressure we take. As for the puzzles, during the game yes continuous evolution of tests and forms in which the dynamic change of the main characters and the evolution of their ability allows us to progress, making this factor always fresh.
It must be made clear that while the combat and environmental puzzles are a clear homage to the Link saga, the structure of the game has nothing to do with it. We will not find large dunes or walk freely through the world looking for the keys or things necessary to progress. The east side is very linear, with a complex plot that requires specific progression and delimitation according to specific areas divided into chapters. In addition, for puzzles, Pixpil takes care that they are very manageable, varied but not difficult, anchor them on specific screens that must be overcome to continue. We will not find mechanisms to work between distant districts, nor will we be asked to concentrate ourselves in a labyrinthine district. All secrets are always available and the challenge ends when we enter the room and move on to the next one.
There is no world but free exploration. Each chapter has a specific area that we can go through until we get tired, but the number of secondary activities is limited. There are hardly any side missions and the dungeons offer few secrets over several chests with resources and devices to increase the number of our hearts (wink, wink). The economy, based on salt, does not offer major incentives for improving our character and its main function is to give us ingredients for cooking (a feature that also pays homage, of course, to Zelda, specifically to Breath of the Wild). It will also allow us to get some improvements, more space to store prepared dishes to recover health or ammunition for our weapons and bombs (although puzzle solving is often linked to our tools, it needs to be proven that practically unlimited reloading system, which takes some of the interest from the resource planning side).
It’s a diverse game, with great rhythm, that doesn’t stop new ideas, minigames or mechanics from appearing, as well as a good variety of enemies and ultimate bosses that make up an entertaining and well-executed set. But the fact that it is quite affordable in all its aspects, sometimes, comes to an end the action part in a procedure that must be run to continue the story. There is no epic confrontation that puts us on trial, nor dungeons that will remain in our memory. In fact, the action areas are visually poorer than the main locations where the story takes place, so more than once we will be eager to eliminate them in order to recreate ourselves with the beautiful locations that serve as a central axis. our travels.
Any protagonists united in adversity
Apart from the main story and although, as we have mentioned, there are not many secondary activities, it is worth noting the presence of Earthborn, Game within a game, a mini – JRPG inspired by Dragon Quest, very entertaining and complete on its own, which also obscures some elements of the plot, though not necessary to complete the adventure. A good addition in a long episode for what is common today in independent productions. On the other hand, the soundtrack is interesting, with a good level that accompanies the action well and reminds us of some melodies (like the one you hear in bars, or the one in shops), although it might be need a little resonance. higher in the great moments of history, waiting a little more flat than some moments claim.
Aside from the graphic aspect, Eastward stands out for both elaborate story and rich character. The pioneering couple are adorable and on the way we meet different personalities whose memories will make us smile, although it is also true that there are some types in the plot that give seriousness that we did not depend on and that will put our feelings on the surface . You can see the work of years to give coherence and poise to a story with complex elements, successfully solved to get a set that will leave its mark and be satisfying from start to finish.