A gruff, bearded man leads a young girl on a dangerous pilgrimage across a post-apocalyptic world, stopping off at crumbling (yet still-surviving) human cities along the way. These struggling settlements’ population dwindles as monsters enroach further into their territory. No, it’s not some PlayStation mega-hit, but Eastward, a 2D action-adventure from Shanghai-based team Pixpil, and set to be published by increasingly prolific developers-turned-kingmakers Chucklefish.
While I use SNES-era as shorthand here, of course no Super Nintendo game was ever as pretty as Eastward. In fact, very few OG PlayStation games looked this good, either. We’re looking at some lusciously animated spritework here set against finely detailed backdrops, all backed up by a modern-day lighting engine to give the game a far more spatially convincing look, as you can see for yourself in the trailer below.
Mismatched duo John (large, burly, fights monsters) and Sam (small, adorable, can stand on pressure buttons) look like they have a fair amount of adventuring ahead of them. Pixpil’s cited core inspirations are action-adventures such as the Legend of Zelda series, but also more offbeat RPG such as the Mother/Earthbound trilogy. There’s a strong vein of 90’s anime aesthetic running through it all as well, and parts of it do remind me a bit of a less cyber-grungy Battle Angel Alita.
Eastward has been in development for some time now, with the earliest stages of pre-production and engine coding happening as far back as 2015, back when Pixpil was just three people. Now they’re up to a staff of ten, and have roped in some help from Hohokum and Gorogoa composer Joel Corelitz to provide the soundtrack, and prolific outfit Hyperduck Soundworks to ensure that the beeps, boops, crashes and thuds sound satisfying.
Pixpil aren’t quite ready to pick a release date for Eastward, nor a price. One thing that is for sure is that the PC is the primary development platform, with the possibility of later console ports. If the trailer above has gotten its hooks into you, there’s a few extra screenshots of the game to ogle on its official site here.