Eastshade: A Brief Introduction

I’m not what you would call a traditional computer gamer. I’m simply not interested in most shoot-em-up games and MMOs (although I did get as far as level 20 in Lord of the Rings Online, because I am such a Lord of the Rings fan).

The only games I have ever been interested in have been puzzle-solving exploration games like Myst and Riven. (By the way, if you liked those games, Cyan has released a new VR adventure called Obduction, which I thoroughly enjoyed! They’re also working on a new game called ZED.)

If you like these type of games yourself, I am happy to tell you that there is a brand new first-person open-world explorer game that was just released on Steam last month, called Eastshade. Unlike most other computer games, there’s no guns, no violence, and no killing. According to their press kit:

Eastshade Studios was founded in December 2013 when Danny [Weinbaum] quit his day job as a 3D environment artist in triple-A games to build a weird world (Eastshade). With collaborators sprinkled around the globe, we are committed to building worlds that feel like real places, explored through non-violent mechanics.

In a recently-published interview on GameRevolution, Danny Weinbaum explains:

“We were trying to think of a way to reward the kind of thing we wanted the player to do in Eastshade, which is basically to go slow, relax, follow their whims, and sightsee,” Weinbaum explained. “Eventually we came up with the idea to allow the player to ‘take’ paintings and create quests around the player capturing certain objects, places, colours, times of day, or a combination of those. This works in perfect harmony with wandering, because the slower the player goes, and the more they let the sense of place wash over them, the better they will do at these quests.”

In the game, you play a shipwrecked artist who is visiting Eastshade for the first time. Armed with your easel (the only belonging you were able to save from the shipwreck), you explore the expansive landscape, talk to various people you meet, solve puzzles, complete quests, and collect boards and cloth to make canvases on which to paint the beautiful scenery around you.

And Eastshade is gorgeous! It’s obvious that a lot of time and attention was put into the graphics for this game, and it shows. The best part is, you can wander around freely; you don’t need to stay on the well-trodden pathways that criss-cross Eastshade. You can wander through the woods and follow the rivers (even do a little fishing).

The daily eclipse in Eastshade
The city of Nava

As I mentioned, there are many quests to complete, in some of which you can earn currency which you can use to get lodgings for the night or to purchase more art supplies. You will also have opportunities to complete and sell paintings to various residents you encounter.

I’ve been playing Eastshade for two days now, and I am thoroughly enchanted. Here are a couple of promotional videos for the game:

Eastshade is available on Steam, where it has already been getting rave reviews like this one; please note that this is a desktop (non-VR) game and it is not free (I paid CDN$28.99 for it). You can get more information about the game from their website, their YouTube channel, or their subReddit, where fans trade hints and tips. There’s also an official Eastshade Discord server. You can also follow the Twitter feed of the game’s creator, Danny Weinbaum.

Eastshade is not an MMO; you explore the island and paint without encountering other players, just NPCs with whom you interact. For this reason I will not be including it in my actively-updated list of social VR/virtual worlds. But it is still a visually stunning open-world platform that is well worth a visit. I recommend it highly.