(The original version was posted on 25/12/2019 in German.)
Since it’s the very first post on this blog: Hello! Nice to see you! I spent a long time thinking about how to start. I really wanted to write something about games and at the end of the year, all humanity lists their best-ofs. Nice idea, but it’s also a bit boring, isn’t it? Especially since I can’t play the „biggest“ and supposedly „best“ games for various reasons (money, technology), and probably everything has already been said about them anyway. In addition, evaluation is always a question of context: if I just don’t feel like the pace and theme of Game XY at all, it doesn’t really matter how great it might be. It probably won’t get to me.
Games allow us to satisfy different needs, especially power fantasies of all kinds. Be it by fighting nasty monsters, surviving harsh virtual elements (and economic systems), or by defeating other players. But sometimes I don’t want to fight, survive or defeat anything. Sometimes I just want a friendly world with lovely characters and beautiful stories. It may sound very “beige” and escapist, but it’s true. That is why I have accumulated a few titles over the years which I call my comfy games. I always go back to them when I feel the need. Maybe because I’m sick. Or just very frustrated or depressed. In the next few days I would like to introduce you to a few titles from 2019 that cheered me up. Or let me relax. Most of them are from small or very small studios and, as far as I know, have not received much attention. But maybe there is something that pique your interest. Without further ado we start with Eastshade.
(Eastshade Studios 2019, PC / Playstation / Xbox, Singleplayer, English)
You play as a painter, who travels to the island of Eastshade to fulfill your mother’s last wish: to paint five very special places on the island! On the way there, however, your ferry shipwrecks and most of your possessions are lost. The residents greet you with a lot of warmth and warm tea, though. Your trip across the island is very wholesome, because you get to know many characters who tell you their story, need your help with minor problems, or want you to paint a picture depicting a specific motif.
„Painting“ is nothing more than taking a screenshot. But for that you need inspiration and canvases. You get inspiration by visiting new places, conversations and tea (Really, drinking tea is an important game mechanic and I think it’s absolutely appropriate). You can either make your own canvases or buy them. I found the crafting system enjoyable; you don’t have to spend several minutes grinding for resources. Those who prefer a minimalistic approach could argue that crafting isn’t really a necessary mechanic within the game at all. I don’t mind it, but it’s not what I play Eastshade for. However, crafting sometimes has the function of a key („Produce item A so that task B can be completed, which makes location C accessible“). Apart from sometimes having to find a way to get to places, you can move around the game world freely.
Mechanically speaking, Eastshade is quite simple. For me this feels appropriate, because the focus here is clearly on the many small stories, which are sometimes touching, sometimes funny, but always very dear. And the game world itself, of course, which is colorful without being gaudy, and is always beautifully illuminated. The architecture of some buildings reminds me a bit of Myst, actually. The world is anchored in reality, but there is a fairytale touch, the inhabitants of this world are anthropomorphic animals. The graphics themselves are not up to date, but the game still looks good due to the stylization and lighting effects.
I haven’t gotten to the end of the game yet. Since I am using it as a kind of retreat, I only ever play a section here and there. It is very relaxing to sip a real cup of tea and help two bears organize their date, for example.
So I wander through the game world, enjoy the light effects and try to establish myself as an artist. Incidentally, the images or screenshots can be exported if you really like them. In the gallery (haha) you can see some of my masterpieces. Please place serious bids only (2000 € upwards).
Oh, the kettle is whistling!
Happy Holidays everyone!