GGRecon's Top 10 Indie Games Of 2021: Eastward
When indie games come to conversation, there's every chance that you'll think of something short. After all, the modern games that many think coined the term like Super Meat Boy and Braid don't often exceed a length that can't be toppled in a dedicated afternoon, and with many of the games' small teams, it's hard to expect them to turn out huge 30-hour epics.
But, by some miracle, that's exactly what studio PixPil have done with Eastward, a charming RPG on the surface that is worth much, much more than it gives away.
Eastward: Sam & John's Excellent Adventure
Eastward follows Sam and John, a child of mysterious origin and her guardian across an apocalyptic landscape and away from the mysterious and deadly miasma smog, knowing only to travel East to survive, and discover who this mysterious "Mother" everyone is talking about is.
The game's formula is simple, but its execution is airtight with easy combat that never feels stale, and most NPCs being instantly lovable as a result of their immaculate writing.
The game comes with a gorgeous 16-bit aesthetic that doesn't sacrifice the game's looming dread and sense of unease that make its atmosphere vibrant with a lingering hum of evil, a feat that few games are able to successfully pull together.
Eastward: Desolation Nation
It seems like such a reach for this game, which stretches to an experience of 30 hours for many, to have been made by such a small team at such a high degree of quality, but if Eastward has proven anything, it's that PixPil aren't to be underestimated, just as their addition to Chucklefish (Stardew Valley's publisher)'s rogue's gallery would suggest.
Every inch of the world, torn by time and shrouded in uncertainty, is so meticulously considered that you'll sink into each minute detail, losing yourself in the NPC conversations you'd otherwise miss, and lose hours to its game-within-a-game, Earth Born.
The game is bleak, and in some places rather depressing, but the lively NPCs and Sam's constant optimism make the game an absolute delight, and every moment in Eastward is a moment well spent, getting to know the desecrated landscapes better every time you boot it up. We might be inundated with the post-apocalypse, but Eastward will make you forget all about that. This game is something special - and if you open up to it, it could be something you sincerely treasure.