Eastshade review | Paints a vivid picture

The town in this RPG finally has a decent arts and culture budget. Here’s our review of Eastshade…


You may not have a name or a face, but you do have a mission. No, this is not the latest dramatic tale of revenge, but a calm exploration about finding inspiration in the ordinary. In Eastshade, you’re a painter who travels to the eponymous country in order to immortalise some of its sights.

At first, all you know about the place is what your mother told you on her death bed: tales of beautiful giant trees and unforgettable vistas. As is customary for many RPGs, you start your journey with nothing, your ship having run into a coral reef not far from the small town of Lyndow. Thankfully, you still have your easel, and the residents immediately take to you when they find out about your painting skills.

Eastshade is completely free of combat. Whenever someone needs something or you’re trying to acquire an item for yourself, you have to find a way to barter for it. Sometimes, that simply means producing a painting of a specific view.

You put a canvas together out of wood and fabric which you find strewn around nearly everywhere, pick the scenery and watch as the fruits of your labour slowly emerge onto the canvas, all with the press of a button. It’s surprising how rarely you’re actually prompted to paint, and so what was meant to be the main mechanic is quickly relegated to the sidelines.

This, however, gives you the freedom to do as you please. While your quest for vistas to paint roughly holds the rudimentary plot together, Eastshade isn’t all that concerned with giving you tasks to fulfil, and instead invites you to stroll around and explore every last corner at your leisure. To do so, you have to acquire or craft items, such as a coat to stay warm or tea (… obviously?) to fast travel with.

There is plenty to see and do; unfortunately, textures also tend to load at a leisurely pace, causing sights and items to pop up even at short distances, shattering the mood Eastshade otherwise upholds so well through ambient noise, soft lighting effects and a calming soundtrack.

The people of Lyndow and the nearby city of Nava are actually friendly, if slightly unsettling anthropomorphic animals, and while you gather topics to chat about over time, most of them remain mere quest-givers. Given how small both communities you visit are, actual relationships between people there would have done a lot to make the world feel more lived in.

Despite some obvious flaws, however, it’s near-impossible not to fall in love with the sheer beauty of it all. The unusual satisfaction of everyone being nice to each other and generally being content with little is a great alternative to traditional RPG storylines and mechanics – one that will hopefully create a trend many other games will follow.


Take the time to experience beaches, cliffs and the lovely Lyndowian architecture at different times of day. Watching the play of light and shadow from the right angles, from frosty blue very early in the morning to the soft golden hues of a late afternoon, can change the scenery dramatically.

Verdict: 73%

Eastshade deftly eclipses its flaws thanks to the strength of its atmosphere and breathtaking world.


Genre: RPG
Format: PC (tested)/Mac/Linux
Developer: Eastshade Studios
Publisher: Eastshade Studios
Price: £19.49
Release: Out now

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