Walking simulators are becoming a very common genre in recent years and Eastshade Studio’s Leaving Lyndow is no exception. Typically touted with great visuals and sprawling vast areas, these genres are making quite an impact, the question is: how well does Leaving Lyndow fare?
You play as a girl named Clara who is going away on a scientific expedition. As you find and pack your suitcase, you meet with friends and family to say your final farewells and goodbyes. Throughout the game, you check messages from family and friends all wishing you the best on your trip, but not everything is all cheery as there are others that worry for your expedition on the waves.
Leaving Lyndow is a first person walking simulator where you interact with the environment and learn about the past of your village, your friends in relation to you, and your life. With only a few areas to explore, you walk through areas beautifully crafted from lush forests to a tavern. The entire scenery looks wonderful, bright and colourful.
Interactions between the townsfolk generally aren’t more than a few lines, but for those conversations, they give context as to Clara’s reason for leaving and why she chose the expedition she’s embarking upon. The letters dotted around are sentimental writings between not just her family towards you, but also between friends.
The other mini-game interactions bring character to the world that is otherwise amiss from walking simulators, instead of giving the player something to do within the environment such as puzzle solving. It’s nice to see this done despite it being heavily leaning on the short side. The game is approximately 40 minutes in length and even if you take your time, it would only be another 5 minutes on top of that.
Before leaving each area you must solve a puzzle, talk to everyone, and interact with everything before moving on, otherwise the game refuses to let you continue on your path. This isn’t a bad thing but if you missed one spot then it could have been frustrating trying to figure out what you’ve missed. Thankfully the areas are small enough to not warrant wandering around perplexed for long, and with small interaction icons hovering above the relevant action, it’s hard to miss.
Drinking tea in the tavern was a comical moment too, especially with the bartender whimsically calling out on Clara’s love of the stuff. The different feelings of characters towards her are also present, especially with the family, and you get a real sense of feeling between the child’s first voyage and the parent’s/uncle’s sense of arguments on why you should and should not go due to your family’s past.
But it’s not all roses, especially when it comes to the look of the characters While they have different names and clothes, all of their faces are exactly the same, and they all wear mouth masks to prevent showing any mouth movement (even in one of the still pictures there’s a mouth mask). It’s so odd to see that it borders on the lines of absolute creepiness – it seems a little too cheap too. It would have been much better to have no mouth movement at all instead of having every single person’s mouth covered by a cloth – it makes the world feel unrealistic or everyone’s carrying some sort of disease.
The entire landscape is also devoid of any movement. While the music does help give a peaceful omnipresent existence waiting for things to come, and you do hear wildlife in the distance, everything else just doesn’t seem to give any atmosphere. What would have helped Clara’s longing for home when she eventually leaves would have been some sort of wildlife to make her feel even more homely.
One major issue that Leaving Lyndow hass, however, is when turning the camera, the amount of blur and stuttering is so apparent that it was making me feel a little odd at times. Not just that but the constant framerate drop is incessant enough that the controls felt sluggish at every step I took.
Essentially what Eastshade Studio has here is a prequel to its upcoming game Eastshade. As this game is simply to give context to Eastshade, I do wonder why this was ever made separately and not simply included into Eastshade itself. It’s very short but I digress, for the cost of this game it’s perfectly acceptable.