Different combinations of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat can be combined to create dozens of different meals in Eastward — everything from a pasta dish using sandrupe, a local fruit, to a Chinese rice dumpling called zongzi. Aside from the fun of figuring out what ingredients make which dish, these meals also offer certain health benefits: Some purely give health or armor, while others give a mix of both with an extra buff, like restored energy.
Tossed into John’s signature frying pan, ingredients and spices become a way to restore health and power. Just how much health and other buffs it gives is determined by a slot machine pull — matching at least two icons means an upgrade in stats, with three matching icons denoting a perfect quality. Spices, too, add different abilities, like increased defense or boosted attack speed.
It’s a mechanic that’s so clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, both in the music that plays and the way ingredients simmer and pop in the pan.
“We of course love The Legend of Zelda series, and particularly Breath of the Wild does a great job of creating an effective cooking system; with players dropping different ingredients into the stone pot, the funny cooking animation and relaxing music altogether make it such a fun experience to watch,” Pixpil co-founder and Eastward lead programmer Tommo Zhou told Polygon.
“Adventuring can be challenging and sometimes exhausting, so watching ingredients bounce around together and turn into a delicious dish feels like a cure,” Zhou said. “We wanted to prepare this cooking animation to highlight that process, and hope it gives the players (and Sam and John) a nice break from their hard work.”
The slot machine-style minigame that plays before the cooking begins is a twist on a more typical cooking experience in games. There’s an element of surprise and the allure of slot machine skill in making a pull, and winning one will add effects to stats. “We think this randomness adds an equal dose of fun and challenge to the mechanic,” Zhou said.
Like in Breath of the Wild, Eastward’s cooking mechanic works because it’s simple and easy to understand, but not without some mystery and complexity. There’s a real joy in tossing ingredients into a pot and not knowing what you’re going to get, and Zhou said that’s by design.
“We want to remind players to not forget to eat, no matter how hard the life or adventure,” he said.