There’s a second story running underneath’s Eastward’s main narrative. Developer Pixpil’s video game holds a second, also-playable video game called Earth Born. Presumably a reference to EarthBound, one of Eastward’s clear influences, Earth Born is an 8-bit role-playing game with a story that mimics Eastward’s own, a tale so beloved across Potcrock Isle, Whitewhale Bay, and New Dam City that nearly everyone you meet in Eastward plays it.
Playing it with locals in different areas is one of Eastward’s sheer delights, meeting rambunctious school kids to take turns on the sticks. Like I wrote in my review, Earth Born is surprisingly deep — a full, yet small game that just makes sense in Eastward’s world. For a lot of the characters I’ve met in my train-riding journey, Earth Born is described as a salve for the ever-crumbling world. I accepted it similarly: the in-game game was a refreshing little break from what’s otherwise a sometimes dark story.
Earth Born is simple: A knight on a quest to save a princess from a demon king, picking up party members along the way. Around the world, you’ll have to fight small battles in the lead up to the demon king, each of which plays out in a turn-based system. There’s a bit of strategy and depth involved, too, with a series of collectible figurines — a la amiibo — that integrate into the game and add power-up options. The figures are collectible by Eastward’s characters in the actual game world, packed into gacha-style machines activated by tokens. These power-ups are items that can be used during battles to get an edge, and essential in making your way toward the demon king.
Even before I dove into Earth Born, I enjoyed pulling figurines from the gacha machines, to watch my virtual collection fill right up.
Pixpil’s even set up an in-game manual for Earth Born. The colorful screens are reminiscent of the guides I read in my childhood, and they’ll walk you through Earth Born with tips to getting through the game — which you’ll want to do, if you’d like to make the high school leaderboard that’s also hidden inside the arcade machine.