Eastshade Review

Eastshade
eastshade

What happens when you combine an RPG with a walking simulator? You get Eastshade! An idyllic escape from the real world where you take on the role of a painter exploring a strange and beautiful island. You can pour many hours in this game and they will pass by in a heartbeat. If you are having a bad day, a few hours in Eastshade will surely help.

Role-playing games are one of the most popular game genres. Over the years, it feels like these games have started to hold our hands more and more when it comes to questing. Eastshade does the complete opposite. Quest objectives are often vague and unclear, UI quest markers are a forgotten memory. If you are told to go and find a cave, you won’t be given its exact location, you will have to use some clues to find it yourself.

The reward for questing isn’t a treasure chest or a big boss battle. It is the actual journey itself. The reward is figuring out the problem yourself. The mystery of it all pulls you in and the excitement of solving it keeps you there. The return to a more original style of questing feels very refreshing and fits this game incredibly well because, at its core, it’s a walking simulator.

There is one thing that you always expect from a walking simulator and that is a beautiful place to explore. Since there is nothing else to do but walk, you kind of need something nice to look at. The world is certainly beautiful and having seen screenshots that are most likely from the PC version of the game, the visual quality is great. Unfortunately, the PS4 version is more like a good looking game from 10 years ago.

eastshade visuals
The game doesn’t look bad, but the plants on the ground look like something you would see in a high-quality PC game from 2005

Perhaps the PS4 version is just a bad port of the game, but there are plenty of muddy textures, weird lighting, and shadow effects and the classic X shaped flora and fauna. When you ride a bike, Xbox controls are shown to you. There are a few other small things that likely come with a smaller studio attempting to release a game of this size on many platforms. While these flaws are glaring, they do not impact your enjoyment too much. Visual fidelity should never be something that makes a good game bad, but it does stop the walking aspects of the game being as beautiful as they need to be.

eastshade xbox controls
Not a game breaker but it shows that the team may have been overstretched with the PS4 port of this game when Xbox controller buttons are showing up on the PlayStation 4 version.

For a game that tries to sell itself on the back of your character being a painter, the painting elements of the game are fairly weak. You are more of a photographer than a painter. The painting feels like something that is a side skill rather than your primary profession. It will certainly be a disappointment for someone hoping this will be a source to express their artistic creativity.

Creating a painting is a matter of taking a screenshot of what you are looking at. One button and bam, a painting on an easel appears before your eyes. A camera wouldn’t fit well with the setting of the game, but it is essentially what you are doing, taking a photograph. It ends up being a nice way to express some creativity without it becoming a chore.

The island of Eastshade is a fairly typical medieval fantasy setting that is populated by several races of human-animal hybrids. Some of these look quite cute but others are a bit creepy. However you feel about them, their appearance makes the island feel very foreign, almost like a fairytale. This feeds your urge to explore and find out what other unusual things are hiding across the island waiting to be discovered.

eastshade owl
The owls in Eastshade look a bit spooky at times. The mustache looks more like insect pincers.

The island is split up into regions that you will initially be locked out of visiting until you progress far enough with the main questline. Although the island is relatively small in RPG terms, when you combine it with the speed at which you move, it can take some time to get from A to B. When you are making the same journey back and forth over and over, you begin to grow tired of having to walk through the same locations with little to stimulate you along the way. There is a limited fast travel system that does little to overcome this problem.

When you reach the big city, you will gain access to some vendors from which you can buy a lot of useful items. The bike is by far the most useful of them all as it will allow you to travel a lot faster. The catch to this is the cost of it is fairly high. You will need to be frugal with the limited income you have in order to afford it. If you give in to temptation and buy something else, you will be setting yourself back. The bike is most definitely a game-changer.

The odd quest now and then will give you money but the easiest way to get it is from painting. Once you get to the city you will gain access to painting contracts that give you a more reliable source of income. Pick up a few contracts, head out and capture what they are asking for and you go back and sell them. You can combine your painting explorations with some other quests to make the little adventures seem bigger. It’s always a calming experience that gives you a small burst of excitement each time you set off to complete a new round of quests.

Never would I have expected to be excited to find out what the secret tea drinking club is all about, but once I found out about it, I needed to know more! It’s quests like this that perfectly fit the island of Eastshade. You will come to view the innocent and peaceful lifestyle that everyone lives with such admiration that you wish you could live there yourself. Eastshade is one of the most calming adventures you will ever play and is a pleasure from start to finish.

THE VERDICT

8.5/10
Eastshade offers a very unique take on a walking simulator with RPG questing elements. The innocent simplistic lives people live make you feel at ease. The quests may not have exciting boss fights but this lack of combat allows you to drop your guard and absorb the beauty of the environment. While it is disappointing the console versions of the game are visually weak, you will still be able to appreciate the beauty. Even a rainy day in Eastshade is a pleasurable experience.
Pros
  • A questing system where you must figure things out for yourself was massively refreshing compared to the hand holding we have come to expect
  • The island of Eastshade is very peaceful and relaxing to explore.
Cons
  • The PS4 version of the game is massively inferior to the version showcased in the game trailer and screenshots.
  • Constantly having to visit the same locations gets tiring when you have nothing to do along the way.