“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
This post was written by Andrea who can be found here on Twitter or via email. She’s a Dyslexia teacher and an aspiring writer/storyteller who likes to look for everyday joys that God provides, whether that’s in the realm of media, or outside of it.
I was recently browsing through the Steam store, when an advertisement popped up on the main page for Eastshade. It caught my eye because the colors were so vivid and lovely – the description even more so.
“You are a traveling painter, exploring the island of Eastshade. Capture the world on canvas using your artist’s easel. Talk to the inhabitants to learn about their lives. Make friends and help those in need. Visit cities, scale summits, unearth mysteries, and discover forgotten places!” – The description for Eastshade on Steam
That description, and the fact that the reviews so far had been ‘Very Positive’ was enough to prompt me to purchase it on an impulse buy. I’m so glad I did – Eastshade is different from most games I have ever played, but it’s the one that I’ve always really wanted to play.
After naming your (unseen) character, you start the beginning of the story on a ship traveling to the eponymous island. There are other passengers with you, all distinctive anthropomorphic animals wearing clothing – it’s the first sign that this adventure is not a typical one. The ship is soon struck against something, and water begins flooding the inside. The screen turns back, and you soon learn your character’s backstory and why you are traveling to the island in the first place.
It is to honor the last request and wishes of your deceased mother, who was fond of visiting Eastshade with your father. She tells you of four different landmarks on the island that she insists you must visit and capture on canvas, but the game is so much larger and vibrant that this main objective quickly takes a backseat as more activities and tasks come into play.
As you can see from the map, the Isle of Eastshade is really expansive, and exploring the land will take several in-game days, as not all areas are accessible to you from the start. The map itself is not available right from the beginning; you have the option of eventually purchasing a copy once you reach a certain location and have enough currency to afford it.
You begin the game by exploring the small village of Lyndow and its surrounding areas and can interact with the townsfolk there. As a traveling painter, you have the ability to create stunning landscapes with the click of a mouse and keyboard, but before that, you have to gather the materials around the island to build canvases. This mechanic encourages you to venture out into unknown territories and collect the items needed to craft canvases or other objects such as a raft that can be used to explore the river. There are other items you can buy to use, such as food and beverages (like tea) for hunger or thirst, or a coat to protect yourself from the cold night environment that Eastshade has. You also have the option of resting in an inn – the one in Lyndow is available for free, but other rest areas require a fee.
Once you have access to the sprawling capital of Eastshade (Nava), you have the opportunity to become the local freelance artist, accepting commissions for patrons, and further exploring across the island to capture the natural beauty and images that it has to offer, in exchange for payment.
Although there is the main quest of the game in visiting the locations your mother asks you to see and paint its landmarks, there is no rush or pressure to pursue this at any point in the game. It is what initially brings you to the island, but as its inhabitants get to know you, they will send you on side quests that not only help you explore areas of the island and interact with other characters that you may have missed, but also get paid, either in currency or with other valuable objects. The quests themselves are low-key but not without their quirks and sense of humor – they hardly ever feel like a chore to complete, even as the list of them grows, and you feel accomplished as you tick each one off of your Quest log.
As of this writing, I have yet to actually complete Eastshade. I don’t feel any particular rush to complete the story either; my takeaway from this beautiful game is that there is so much more to life than the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we feel we must accomplish in a day. Even in the context of the game itself, some areas are inaccessible in the very beginning, and take some time and work to unlock. There is no time limit to your adventure – your mother’s final wish for you can wait whilst you get to know your new friends and learn their many eccentricities and backstories. There’s lore to read and mysteries to solve, plants to harvest, crafts to build, and new locations to explore. I hope to one day soon complete every task I’ve come across, and then fulfill the goal that had been set for me in the very beginning.
In my view, Eastshade mirrors the kind of life that I imagine God envisions for us to have as Christians. As the Creator, He has built an expansive and complex world around us that changes every day, its beauty unending and unceasing. Sometimes, the weather can be comfortable; it can become cold and stormy, requiring us to seek shelter. We have to bundle up to keep cold so that the elements won’t harm our bodies. Early on in the game, your character is precautioned against going out too late at night, as the air can become cold and affect THEM. Hot beverages and shelter are offered as protection to continue to enjoy the bounty the island has to offer. Hunger and exhaustion are as hostile to your progress as any monster could be, and if you’re not careful and don’t make wise decisions early on, these maladies will severely impact your progress.
God encourages us to rest in Him, to be content. We are not to worry and be anxious about what needs to be completed and ticked off our to-do list, but we are to find rest in His arms and spirit, giving Him our anxious thoughts and trusting in Him that all will be well. When we depend on ourselves or on others to find success and achieve our goals, we find that we expend so much energy than we really should be. Sooner or later, we’ll break down, too tired to carry forward, too drained to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Failure will seem like it’s just across the horizon, but when we remember that our Father is looking after us, we are reminded that we really shouldn’t be burdened by all of this extra stress. It’s okay to take it easy, sit down outside, breathe in the fresh air, and watch the sunset as it changes its array of colors from vibrant gold and red to tranquil violet and blue.
Eastshade, more than any other game I’ve played in recent history, reminded me of this truth. We live in a beautiful world that only seems to grow bigger and more grand when we set our sights on the Artist who created everything we see. The world around us is His canvas, and as His children, we have the privilege to bask in the beauty He has created for us, just as the artist in the game can create works for others to enjoy and treasure.
If you’re not quite sure if Eastshade is worth your time, or if you want to experience what it has to offer on a smaller scale, there is another game developed by the same company called Leaving Lyndow. It is set in the same village that you visit at the beginning of your adventure in Eastshade, and you play as a young girl named Clara. As the title indicates, Clara is leaving her hometown of Lyndow on her own adventure, as she has been accepted by the Guild of Maritime Exploration. The goal of the game is simple: To give her farewells to her loved ones and neighbors, visit her favorite childhood spots, and find closure as she prepares to leave it all behind and begin her long journey.
Leaving Lyndow itself is short and sweet – you can easily finish it in a short sitting, compared to Eastshade. It’s a simple story to complete, and just like its sister game, it encourages you to relax, take your time, and bask in the beauty the world has to offer you.
I hope you take the time to check out one if not both of these games. They really are unlike any other game that is out there right now. Both encourage you to slow down and take your time to explore your surroundings and enjoy what the creators have to offer you, instead of rushing through and completing every little side-quest. You will be in awe of the beauty that imagination has to offer you, and the relaxing atmosphere helps you to forget about the stresses you may have for a while. Just remember, when all is said and done and you close the game down, that the Creator of the world wants to share His beauty with you as well. Why not take the time to unpack your troubles on His shoulders as you admire the artwork He has created for you to bask in?
This game is Gaming & God approved! Recommended for all audiences.
You can purchase Eastshade on Steam