Review – Eastshade (PS4)

When I first saw the trailer for Eastshade, my curiosity went through the roof. Even though games like this aren’t exactly my bread and butter, I was captivated by its jaw-dropping visuals and gameplay revolving around painting landscapes in order to complete puzzles. I had no idea how the level design or progression system would end up being, but it’s safe to say that the trailer did what it was supposed to do: it made me want to play it. And now that I have finally played it, I have many thoughts on it.


I call this one “Too Much Water”. It will sell for 7.8 thousand dollars.

One thing I never thought I’d say about this game is how much it makes me feel like I’m playing an Elder Scrolls title. No, this is not an RPG by any means, but the level design, quest system, and NPC interactions are very similar to those games. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me this started out as a Skyrim mod or if this was running on Bethesda’s Cretacean engine. Even the way characters look at you and talk to you remind me of the Elder Scrolls games.

With that being said, there is no combat in here. This is a mix between a walking simulator and an open-world art puzzler. You explore the beautiful country of Eastshade, talk to NPCs, find quests, and solve some puzzles. The vast majority of the puzzles revolve around painting something that has been requested by someone else. Coming up with a masterpiece isn’t complicated at all. All you need to do is craft a canvas with some boards and some pieces of fabric, look for a landscape or person, aim at them, define the size of the canvas, and voilà, a beautiful picture will be created. In a way, Eastshade reminded me a bit of photography-based games like Pokémon Snap, and that’s not exactly a bad thing.


Looks like a very common bridge to me.

I can’t explain how truly gorgeous Eastshade is. If they wanted to give me inspirations for my paintings, then they have masterfully succeeded. Every single damn landscape is worth being immortalized in art form, with lush environments, beautiful forests, and magnificent hills. The lighting effects are also fantastic, making the lush world feel even more alive. The visuals are complimented by a beautiful, calm, and relaxing soundtrack.

Eastshade makes me want to paint everything in sight. It makes me want to look for people to sell my paintings to. It makes me want to perform requests. Sadly, the game is not perfect. In between the moments of joy, the game hinders your progress with questionable design choices and some annoying technical issues.


Stuff of my nightmares.

Even though Eastshade is gorgeous, it runs terribly on the PS4. The framerate is all over the place, ranging from a quasi-consistent 60fps whenever you’re inside a house with little objects in it, to absolute single-digit chaos whenever you’re out in the open, especially if you’re in a heavily forested area. Eastshade is horrendously optimized and it even crashed once. The game also suffers from what I like to call the “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture syndrome”. This is when the run button barely makes your lethargic character move faster.

There is something else that hinders the game’s visuals: the character designs. They’re all sentient animals and they are hideous. They are pure fuel for my worst nightmares. Not only they look ugly, but the game doesn’t make much sense as to why some animals are sentient and walk on two legs, and why others are still just plain ol’ animals. Why (and how) can a sentient deer tame a ginormous buffalo? And why does that one deer in specific speak with a terribly strong Russian accent?

Eastshade‘s biggest problem, however, is its overall gameplay design. Painting pictures is fun and all, but I found myself barely doing that throughout the whole game. I spent most of my time walking aimlessly through a very confusing island, with no map or compass to help me out, talking to each and everyone in order to find anything to do. I would be randomly stopped from progressing due to some stupid quest, such as paying to cross a seemingly open bridge, or finding three people to sign a letter to confirm I’m a good person in order to enter a city. Eastshade suffers from very poor pacing and that’s what disappointed me the most.


This is better than any Instagram filter out there.

Eastshade is the perfect definition of “pretty but shallow”. It’s a gorgeous game with fantastic art and sound design marred by numerous technical issues and abysmal pacing. A game in which you use painting skills to solve puzzles and explore the world is a great idea in theory, but there’s not a lot you can do with the concept here. That’s what hurts Eastshade the most. Between the phenomenal lighting effects, nightmare-inducing character models, and artsy soundtrack, all I wanted to do was to explore the land and look for breathtaking locales to craft my latest masterpieces. Sadly, the ungodly boring story stood between me and my dream, and I eventually got fed up with Eastshade as a result.


Graphics: 8.0

The unbelievably gorgeous landscapes and lighting effects clash with the game’s poor framerate and nightmare-inducing character design.

Gameplay: 6.0

Using your intuition to figure out the paintings people are asking for and creating said paintings is the highlight of a game that is otherwise devoid of things to actually do.

Sound: 8.5

The soundtrack is beautiful, peaceful, and serene, and the voice acting is good for the most part. When someone delivers a bad performance, however, it is REALLY bad.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Eastshade features an interesting premise and a world worth exploring, but it is hindered by technical problems and pacing issues.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Eastshade is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Eastshade was provided by the publisher.