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Eastshade Review

Eastshade Review

Eastshade Review

Eastshade is an island vacation that you are not going to want to miss

Category: Review
Written by: Cindy Kyser on March 19, 2019
Genre: 3D Exploratory Adventure
Developed by: Eastshade Studios
Published by: Eastshade Studios
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Platform: Windows

I was originally drawn to Eastshade by the drop-dead gorgeous 3D graphics. However, as I read more about the game, it mentioned “crafting” and I almost walked away. I’ve never been a fan of collecting components and building things in adventure games. Thank goodness I decided to take a risk and play. Had I not, I would have missed one of the most marvelous gaming experiences I’ve had in years.

Described as “a peaceful open world full of character,” Eastshade is simply amazing. In terms of structure, the game follows a traditional paradigm. You arrive in a strange land which begs to be explored. As you interact with the residents, many have tasks for you to accomplish. And so you go, from quest to quest. You are not charged with saving the world. Instead, the game is an experience that unfolds as you find new places and meet new characters with stories to tell.

Playing from a first-person perspective, you begin the game as a painter who is traveling, via sailing ship, to the island of Eastshade. A violent storm interrupts your voyage and you wake on a beach, having survived a shipwreck. You head to the nearest town and your adventure is self-created based on the places you go and the characters with whom you interact. I was surprised to find that all residents of Eastshade are anthropomorphic animals… bears, monkeys, deer, etc. They walk upright, are beautifully dressed, and many will engage in conversation with you.

The coin of the realm is the Glowstone and your travels are limited until you can raise the funds needed to pay tolls and acquire specific objects. Eastshade is deathly cold at night and, until you have a way to stay warm, your can only explore during daylight hours. Luckily, there is room at the inn and you are always welcomed.

As a painter, you can immediately gather scrap materials to build canvases and start capturing the scenery. You soon find that the residents of Eastshade have a penchant for art and that your skill has value. Your ability to paint is limited only by the number of canvases you hold and your current level of inspiration. Inspiration rises as you experience new places and ideas and decreases as you paint. Your artwork is created to look like an oil painting of the original scene and it is rewarding to see it on display at various locations.

You traverse a land brimming with resources – sticks, roots, mushrooms, plants, reeds, etc. All can be harvested for building items such as a rope, a raft, or a tent. For those who enjoy an altered state of consciousness, you can brew tea following island recipes or be adventurous and combine whatever you have on hand. To augment your personal stash, there are merchants who will sell you a variety of goods and those who will buy paintings and other items from you.

At first, I just walked the entire island, taking in the sights and talking to anyone I encountered. I found cottages, ancient ruins, windmills, ocean cliffs, caves, lakes, rivers, and wooded forests. As my wealth increased, I was able to travel by wagon, raft, boat, hot air balloon, or zip line. Once I had a map, I could “fast track” to a previously visited area by drinking one of the special teas.

Although my Steam controller was not supported, using the keyboard and mouse is intuitive with the WASD keys for travel and SHIFT to run. The TAB key provides access to inventory, crafting, a map (obtained via a quest), a journal detailing your progress, and painting. Objects and characters in the environment that can be interacted with are clearly marked so there is no pixel hunting required. The game automatically saves as you exit so no progress is ever lost. Best of all, you can save your game, on demand, to one additional save slot. I purposely saved a game prior to the final quest so that I can easily return for a brief visit without starting over.

Eastshade is much more than a quest-based adventure with pretty graphics. It is hard to put into words what is so special about this game and why I loved it enough to spend 20+ hours playing and still want more. The combination of fantasy and realism made me feel as if I had stepped into someone else’s imagination and was truly there. In addition to a visually stunning game world, the sound track is impressive. Complex instrumentals play in the background, the environmental sounds are all present in the right places, and the voice acting is exceptional. The island is truly open with few barriers to exploration. While there are some natural obstacles (such as rivers too deep for wading or ravines too steep for climbing), most of the island is fully accessible once you have the right equipment. It is a game to take your time with because those in a hurry are apt to miss many of the subtle joys of this adventure.

Several quests have decision points and I had to think hard about who to align with and how my actions might impact others. I chose to be kind and helpful, even though being abrupt or self-serving was often an option.

Eastshade has a simple but uniquely satisfying and heartwarming ending which I will not spoil. I was glad that I had listened to the suggestion of creating and saving some favorite paintings for myself. I was also delighted to find that some of my quest decisions were referenced in the end in unexpected ways.

In short, Eastshade is a game that I will reflect upon for some time. It is also a game that I will circle back to in a few months. Despite completing almost all quests, my achievements score is only 56% which tells me there is more to see and do. Plus, there is that big fish that got away…

I did have a few freeze-ups during loading from a manual saved point. This required a hard exit and restart but did not impact gameplay in any way. I admit that the mechanics of fishing made me a little crazy, which is reflective of the fact that I am not fond of fishing in real life. While there has been some chatter on Steam about performance issues, I experienced none. The game ran beautifully on my laptop.

I continue to marvel at the creativity and talent of the Eastshade Studios team. Danny Wienbaum, Jacyln Ciezadlo, and Daniel Merticariu did the writing, design, and art while the music was created by Phoenix Glendinning. It is hard to imagine that a small independent team could create such a phenomenal game. Eastshade is more than the result of vision and hard work. It is a game that comes from the heart.

For additional information, visit the game’s website.

Grade A+

+ Enchantingly beautiful 3D open world that you will want to fully explore
+ Enough diversity to hold my interest for 20+ hours and leave me wanting more
+ Delightful story with just the right amount of dialog
+ Playing as an artist adds a unique element to this adventure
Those who do not like fishing in real life may want to skip it in Eastshade!


System Requirements
MINIMUM Windows:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i5-750/AMD Phenom II X4-945
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 560 Ti/Radeon HD 6950
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 3 GB available space
Cindy Kyser

Cindy Kyser

Cindy’s love affair with gaming began when she opened a mailbox in front of a white house and took the first step in a long series of adventures. ‘Back in the day,’ Cindy was a regular contributor to JA and an active member of the online gaming community. She has attended several E3s and has had the pleasure of spending time in person with both Ray and Randy. Her all- time favorite adventures include the Tex Murphy series, the Gabriel Knight series, and The Longest Journey. She also enjoys RPGs and her list of ‘best ever’ includes Fallout, Asheron’s Call, and Planescape Torment. Â Frustrated with the cost of rising PC system requirements, Cindy decided to switch to console and tablet gaming. Although you can teach some old dogs new tricks, she discovered that console controller dexterity is a skill set that she is lacking. Her results with tablet gaming were not much better. With the exception of a few gems such as The Room and Forever Lost, there is a limit to how much one can play Candy Crush and Hidden Object Adventures. Having proved that pure escapism is worth the investment, she has a new gaming laptop and is back to her search for the perfect adventure. Â After spending most of her life in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Cindy escaped the stress of urban life and moved to rural Arkansas. To show that she has become a true Arkansan, she has taken up deer hunting, wears pink camo, and put a chicken coop in her backyard. On a stressful day, she can be heard yelling ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ when all else fails.

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