Hi fellow weirdos! Javi here again with another curious Japanese videogame of the early 90s.

For those familiar with the fantastically oneiric LSD: Dream Emulator game, the Osamu Sato name may ring a bell. Born in 1960, this digital artist and composer have a knack for creating, both visual and musical psychedelic aesthetics. One of his early works, and unfortunately not as well known as LSD is Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong Nou. While many specialized outlets define this game as a point-and-click adventure game, Sato defines it more as a CD-ROM experience. I understand it might sound like he is being snobbish just for the sake of it by making this distinction, but is fair to say that Lost Souls is indeed an experience difficult to classify.


Eastern Mind tells the story of a man named Rin who has lost his soul. To recover it, he borrows his friend’s soul for 49 days and goes to Tong Nou to die and be resuscitated nine times. Incorporating elements of Sato’s Buddhist beliefs, the game’s main theme is reincarnation, in which is said that karma influences birth and death, two endless processes. In fact, in the narrative, death is not depicted as a conventional game over. It is necessary to advance in the story since the MC will appear revived as another character.

I understand that this concept might sound too dense to be enjoyable at all. However, here’s when Sato’s unique visuals and music give it that push that makes the entire work memorable. For starters, Tong Nou takes the shape of an altered green version of the game developer’s head and inside each part of it, there are entire lands to explore. On the other hand, the character designs are surrealist and, at times, terrifying. Since the game glitches once in a while and speeds up some animations intensely, the whole atmosphere takes an insane. With the addition of an outstanding techno-house soundtrack, Eastern Mind becomes deliciously unsettling.


According to some sources, Osamu Sato planned to make a trilogy or sequel out of this game. Unfortunately, this never came to fruition. The game was released originally for Windows and Mac OS. It was planned to be released on PlayStation also, but this fell through. Due to its more limited release and probably, the non-mainstream themes and aesthetics, the game ended up becoming a rarity. Still, you can find many play-throughs of Eastern Mind online that let you look at this piece of wonderful weirdness that not many dare to explore, even now.


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