We recently posted about Chucklefish (publishers of Stardew Valley) collaborating with Pixpil games to deliver an exciting new game entitled Eastward. In a recent interview with Red Bull, more information about the previously elusive game has come to light. Therefore we thought we’d take this opportunity to update anyone interested.
Eastward is an upcoming JRPG adventure game with pixel graphics, which is set in a post-apocalyptic Shanghai. The game, which focuses on a father and his daughter, is said to be very emotive and exciting. Eastward has beautiful graphics similar to Chucklefish’s farming simulation Stardew Valley and their upcoming magic school game Witchbrook (which you can read more about here). Therefore, Pixpil’s decision to partner with Chucklefish is undoubtedly a positive and prosperous one.
Pixpil initially started out as a small team of three. As the game progressed however, the team started to grow. There are currently around a dozen people from Pixpil working on Eastward. The company’s office is located in a Shanghai shopping mall, and is surrounded by many furniture stores. Pixpil have said that the ‘small and sneaky’ location of their headquarters has influenced the game.
Having also been compared to games such as Zelda and Earthbound, and inspired by Japanese anime, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, it’s safe to say the game has a wide variety of influences.
Pixpil’s co-founder and designer, Feng Ye talks about the game’s protagonists:
“The main characters are John and Sam,” Ye explains. “A tough, hard-working guy, and a long white fluffy-haired girl respectively, who start their journey in a mysterious underground place isolated from the rest of the world. In the outside world, the human population has shrunk to an all-time low, and strange creatures are beginning to descend on the cities. After leaving their small underground village, John and Sam are about to discover what has made the world become so dangerous and what destiny awaits them.”
Despite taking place in a bleak post-apocalyptic world, the upcoming JRPG still has a plethora of interesting characters to discover and engage with. For example a merchant character called William, who has an adopted robot-boy assistant, undergoing surgery to become a real boy.
Although the game is single player, players will have the opportunity to switch between the two protagonists in order to solve puzzles. The game will feature John the most, but will still incorporate his daughter Sam in order to add variety and different characteristics. On same occasions, the pair will need to be separated in order to proceed. This mechanic adds more complexities and possibilities to the gameplay.
The game combines 2D art with 3D effects. Eastward consists of tried and tested game art methods, as well as more modern effects, created with a variety of equipment, and a bespoke Homebrew engine. This very unique combination has resulted in beautiful graphics.
Eastward’s visual allure is one of the key reasons that Chucklefish got involved, according to producer Rosie Ball. “From the moment we saw Eastward we absolutely fell in love with the art style, and we just wanted to find out more! After we spoke to the Pixpil team and got hands-on with the game, we were so happy to discover that it’s not just a pretty game. It’s also really interesting from a technological point of view, with what it’s doing creatively with pixel art. The Pixpil team are being very innovative with their techniques, and that’s something that really excites us at Chucklefish.”
The developers have also made it clear however, that they want the audio in the game to be just as compelling. Due to difficulties in finding local composers familiar with their game language, Pixpil have decided to outsource audio to Joel Corelitz The Unfinished Swan, Gorogoa, Tumbleseed) and Hyperduck Soundworks (Dust:An Elysian Tail, The Adventure Pals). Pixpil are working closely alongside them to ensure the music and audio is exactly how they want it and that the soundtrack is well-matched to the game.
It has been hinted that Eastward is ‘moving towards completion’, although no fixed date for the game’s release has been set. Pixpil have said that they are very proud of their game, and belive that their partnership with Chucklefish has been very helpful in getting the ball rolling. Currently, the game is only set to be released for PC and Mac, although developers have expressed interest in releasing the game on other platforms, such as Linux.
Could this mean a spot beside Stardew Valley in the Nintendo eShop?
The full interview can be read here.