Eastshade is a first-person open-world walking simulation game where you travel a serene fantasy world as a painter with the simple goal of capturing specific areas of the island as per your mother’s last wishes. If you’ve ever wondered from other RPGs, like Skyrim, what it would be like to be one of those vendors you purchase goods from and not having to save the world, well wonder no more. Relax and play this game at your own pace and meet the interesting inhabitants of Eastshade. They might even ask you for painting commissions!
Eastshade has been available on Steam since last year but as of October 21st, 2019, you can purchase the game on consoles! I’d like to thank Eastshade Studios for giving me a PS4 digital copy of the game in order to share this review with our community!
Exploring Eastshade and Painting
You start off on a ship set for Eastshade as you mother boasts about the beauty of this place you’ve never been to. Your boat sinks but you make it to shore along with the other crew members. From there, you are free to go anywhere you please! There are helpful paths leading to points of interest but if you stray from those, you can forage for herbs, roots, feathers, and other items you’ll need for crafting. The first thing you’ll want to learn is how to craft a canvas so you can start painting right away. The mechanic for painting isn’t you actually using an in-game paintbrush to draw something; it’s you framing scenery as if you were going to take a picture with your camera. Then your character automatically paints exactly what you’ve selected.
Painting Requires Inspiration
I suggest reading every single book you come across as they not only give you inspiration, they give you helpful hints. Inspiration is a sort of stamina bar you’ll need to fill in order to be able to paint anything. This is probably the most important thing you need to keep an eye on. The only way to gain more Inspiration is by discovering new locations, drinking teas, completing side-quests, and sitting in hot-springs for the first time. This became a little stressful for me since I wanted to paint everything in sight, however, if you meet someone not too far from Lyndow, you can listen to them sing a bard song for an infinite amount of Inspiration.
Modes of Transporation and Favors
I really loved talking to everyone I met as they all have stories to tell and favors to ask. This will open up side-quests for you to complete and some of them will let you decide on the outcome. You can even learn recipes either from townsfollk, or books, in order make teas with varying effects, for example. One of the teas will allow you to fast-travel to select areas you’ve already visited on your map. Not that traveling takes too much time in order to see everything, and who wouldn’t want to take in the sights anyway, but it’s pretty convenient to have modes of transportation. You can make yourself a raft, buy a bike, ask villagers with wagons to bring you to the two major towns, etc.
It’s Freezing Out at Night
Speaking of towns, I recommend heading to Nava as soon as possible. Once there, you can buy, what I find to be, the most useful item in the entire game; a coat. After 6:00 p.m., Eastshade gets too cold for you to be outside so you either have to go inside someone’s house, an inn, drink a specific tea, or build a campfire or tent if you have the schematics.
If you fail to do either one of those things, your character will freeze and automatically return to the last inn you stayed at overnight (probably Lyndow). When I got the coat in Nava, I was so relieved that I could just journey around outside whenever I wanted. Some quests even need you to stay out until after midnight, which are so much easier to complete if you aren’t on borrowed time. One time, I stayed in someone’s house for several real-life minutes waiting for the morning to come as I didn’t have any items with me.
Shopping With Glowstones and Commissions
Don’t worry about spending your precious Glowstones on a room at the inn because it is very cheap and you only have to pay once! After that you can keep using the room to sleep if you need to speed-up time. Glowstones are hard to come by at first and require you to sell paintings to certain folks. There are three Shadefolk that will buy items off of you for a small amount of Glowstones as well, in case you’re in a pinch.
In Nava, there is so much shopping to do, like that coat, so you’ll want to save up. You can even buy canvases as there’s a finite amount of those particular crafting materials. While you’re there, become an employed artist and start submitting paintings via requests for more Glowstones! I only wish there were more commissions as I loved finding specific things all around Eastshade but still having the freedom to decide exactly how to paint them. For example, you can decide on distance and angles. Weather and time-of-day will also affect the hues and lighting in your paintings. There are some teas you can drink to change the filter of your graphics which is also very fun to use. There’s a lot of weird tea-drinking in this game.
The Lore and World of Eastshade
The day-night cycle in Eastshade is relatively the same as ours but with the difference of the daily solar eclipses at noon and the daily lunar eclipses at midnight. The skies can go from blue to red, to blue again, and then to a golden color. I could have sworn that Eastshade’s moon looks to be like the planet Earth so I did a little digging on the developers’ intentions and found the following:
“The moon in Eastshade appears habitable, and since its about the same size as the planet you’re standing on, you orbit it as much as it orbits you! In other words, both planets are moons to one another. This means Eastshade’s moon remains in the same place in the sky all the time, which creates daily solar and lunar eclipses. At midday it blocks you from the sun, and at midnight you block it from the sun. Tidally locked, you orbit around each other in a double planet dance all the way around the sun. Is there another world of intelligent life just across the cosmic pond? The residents of Eastshade can’t know. All they can do is look up and wonder…”
Learning About Early Settlers
This whole new world that was built is so fascinating that it is too bad that there isn’t more lore to learn about. My favorite quest would be the one at Sinkwood Inn since you get to play as a detective and solve a theft. It’s nothing too complex but rooting through people’s personal belongings and learning a tiny bit about politics and things going on in Eastshade, was a blast! That quest really got me excited about the ancient ruins they described, only, you can’t even go inside. I guess the point isn’t to be a treasure hunter but learning more about the history of certain areas and these so-called First Folk would have been awesome.
The Shadefolk and Their Music
There are different types of anthropomorphic animals in Eastshade such as deer-folk, bear-folk, owl-folk, and ape-folk. Their garbs and homes are quite primitive and adds to the “relaxing pastoral” feel of the game. I’m very impressed that most characters are fully-voiced, and very good at that. That one song that someone sings, as mentioned above, is absolutely beautiful. The background music is so peaceful too that I would definitely get the soundtrack and listen to it on its own.
The detail to everything astounds me and there isn’t a single thing that isn’t great to look at. Even this boulder, that’s a nice boulder…The only thing I would change about the visuals are the menus. Compared to everything else, they are so drab in their black-and-white. It can make it difficult to see the item in your inventory you are looking for. Even the quests are white if you haven’t completed them and ever-so-slightly greyed-out if you have. Perhaps even simply adding current and completed quests in different menus would have been helpful.
Completing Your Journey and Returning Home
When all is said and done, and you have fufilled your mother’s wishes with the four mementos, you leave Eastshade and return home. You actually get to walk around your house afterward and read letters sent to you from the Shadefolk you met and helped out. This had me tearing up a little and made it even harder to say goodbye to the game. Even my paintings that were still in my inventory were hung up on my walls! I painted mostly cats, because they are so cute. With the amount of cats lying around Eastshade, there should be an achievement to paint them all. That is something I would definitely do. The only other thing I would have wanted is to see in my home a portrait of myself or my mother just to know what race I am.
I highly recommend playing this game for yourselves and discovering hidden areas, solving a puzzle or two, and painting to your heart’s content! If you’re interested in purchasing the game on PS4 as well, click here for the link.