Review: Eastshade

To accomplish a promise to your mother, you, a very talented traveling artist, go to the land of Eastshade to capture in your canvas four of the most beautiful sights of this land, sights she wishes to see once again. To accomplish this task, you took a ship to Eastland. But something goes south and the ship ended up sinking during the trip. You wake up in a cave, where you find the man who rescued you. By I stroke of luck, you reached your destination. You find yourself in the Port of Lyndow, from where you will discover more about this beautiful island and resume your journey.

Developed and published by the American independent studio Eastshade Studios, this title was released for PCs at the begging of 2019 and now receives a version for consoles. In this second adventure in the world of Eastshade (being the first one ‘Leaving Lyndow’, released in Feb’ 2017), you will explore the island where you find yourself, learn about this world by interacting with its inhabitants and capture the astonishing beauty of this worlds with your easel while searching for the four paintings requested by your mother. Explore this beautiful world, help those in need and see your paintings change this world. Prepare your brushes: we are departing now.

What do you do? Eastshade is a first-person exploration game where you walk through the island and make paintings of its beautiful nature. With limited resources, you will need to interact with its inhabitants, sometimes helping them while in others doing some errands in exchange for money. By helping them you will gain access to more areas of the island that will allow you to capture the four images your mother demands.

The beautiful shores of Lyndow

What we liked!

  • A visual masterpiece: After a few minutes with Eastshade, it’s hard to believe this game has been developed by an indie studio (no offense, Danny!) because the visuals in this game place it among the most visually impressive games of the generation! The combination of vivid vegetation and the rivers and waterfalls of the island with some truly amazing landscapes creates an impressive atmosphere – an atmosphere you can almost feel and touch if not by your TV screen. These combinations are portraited in beautiful compositions you can create or screenshots (like the ones in this review) you can take – however these static images don’t make justice to the quality of the game. Cities also have incredible attention to detail, exhibiting beautiful textures in its walls, stores and anthropomorphic creatures – its inhabitants – walking around. It would be a truly perfect visual experience if not by some minor problems like elements of the scenario popping up in your screen (like buildings and houses) due to a short draw distance and some strange animations – or lack of them at all – in NPCs. Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly an amazing visual experience.
  • And an audio masterpiece too: Another element of the game that blew me away was the quality of its audio – being more specific: the music and voice work. Your exploration through Lyndow, Nara and other locations of the island will be accompanied by beautiful and cheerful melodies – most of them piano-based – that will enchant the most demanding ears. The other aspect where the game shines is the incredible dubbing of its NPCs. There are hundreds of dialog lines and dozens of voiced characters, most of them – if not they all – performed with the perfect tone for each scene or situation. I could find only a few voices that don’t match the character (something like the UFC ex-fighter Anderson Silva), something that happens quite often in the gaming industry.
  • A pleasurable journey: I must admit I’m not a great fan of walking-simulators and exploration games at all. Games with little to none action usually make me fall asleep – something common for those who review games at night. Surprisingly, Eastshade was a very pleasurable adventure: its story, although simple, takes you to interact with many NPCs and, before you notice it, you will be running errands from one city to another trying to help them. The gameplay is also pretty simple, with some interesting mechanics that will make you busy. For instance, to make your paintings, you will need a canvas, which can be bought in the market or built with enough materials you can find exploring the island. The same is true for tents, herbal teas and many other gameplay elements that, sooner or later, will be needed for you to advance in the story.
  • Inspiration vs economics: An interesting aspect of the gameplay is that you need inspiration for your paintings. To get inspiration, you must explore new the island to find areas with astonishing landscapes (in my opinion, wherever you look… but the developers tried to make things a little harder), finding storybooks and listening to musicians performing. But once you are low on cash to, let’s say, buy new canvas for your paintings, sometimes you will need to do some physical tasks like helping a farmer. And while it grants you some glowstones (the game currency), it reduces your inspiration. Try to balance your money necessity with your inspiration reserves not to be caught with your pants down when you need to capture a special moment and you are low on inspiration.
Is this a picture or a painting? Hard to say

Somewhere between

Not for everyone: Here’s something that won’t affect the overall score of the game. Eastshade is a great gaming experience, but only a small percentage of gamers will fully enjoy it. Exploration games aren’t a genre for every player, especially for those looking for action – since there’s none here. But those willing to try something new and different between their last shooter and favorite sports franchise won’t regret it. A game at a different pace that will give you the opportunity to admire the developer’s work in a way you have never experienced before.

The city of Nara… during an eclipse

What we disliked

Are they ventriloquist? At first, it looked like a small glitch to me. But soon I realized that, when speaking, the characters don’t see to be moving their mouths – at least not in a natural way. And if you aren’t very close to them when you start a conversation, their mouths won’t move at all. Nothing game-breaking, but it lessened the immersion of the game.

Rating

88%

If you’re some of those boring grown-ups who say videogames can’t be considered art, here’s Eastshade Studios to change your mind: this American studio developed a game who will, once and for all, end this discussion proving that YES, WE CA… (sorry, wrong motto) games truly are a form of art. Of art and entertainment. Congrats for what you achieved here, guys. Something truly amazing that shall be appreciated by everyone who considers yourself as a gamer. A different experience that can be enjoyed by players of all ages

Written by Rafael

Xbox writer for LifeisXbox

Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.