When you think of todays video gaming culture, most people immediately go to something like Call of Duty or Fortnite one of which is a violent first-person shooter game, and one is based on war time combat. What Europa offers is something utterly different. Europa has been touted as the “love child” of The Legend of Zelda and Studio Ghibli. And that is exactly what it is.
Created by artist and developer Helder Pinto and published by Future Friends Games, an indie games publisher, Europa is due to hit Steam on April 16, 2024. This open world, indie action-adventure game seems to be just a tad misleading in its categorization. Adventure? Yes. Action? The jury is still out on that. I guess it would depend on your definition of action.
The trailer’s voiceover alludes to the fact that this world in not Earth, and that we are, in fact, on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons – hence the title. The wise, old voice tells us (the player and the lone character in the game so far) that this place was built for us, and that we are here early to sort of take a first look around. That may explain with the music sounds tranquil and pensive, soothing in a thoughtful way.
Along with the trailer, Steam allows you to download the first chapter in the demo, which begs to be played. And play it I did.
The first chapter starts was a lot of flying and some puzzle solving, which is very Zeldaesque in its game play. I would be able to fly around this world exploring for hours, partnered with the beautiful cell shaded graphics that are a signature of the Studio Ghibli look, and the Zen-like meditation music filled with wistful piano and strings. Even the popping of the pods in this demo were exactly like the sounds from the original Zelda game. It was like nostalgia and mindfulness rolled up into my 20-minute demo session. You could play the demo for much longer than I did, and I will very likely go back and play it some more while I’m waiting for the full release.
Half the fun of open world gaming is exploring the world and finding what’s there. There doesn’t even need to be any combat involved, though if this game if going to bring in more of the Legend of Zelda, I suspect there could be some potential combat. But the trailer and the demo make the initial world seem very lonely and yet somehow serene, while also not so subtly hinting that perhaps we need to take much better care of our planet.
There is no hint, so far, of any combat, though. So, we will just have to wait and see. We may get lucky and see a second trailer and get more information about the game play, but honestly? If the first chapter is basically what the whole game is like? I would be so okay with that. I haven’t been this relaxed playing a video game in a very long time. It’s a wonderful change of pace not wondering if, or when, I’m going to have my character die, or constantly having to check my stats to see if I’m running out of health.
Europa is a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait to inhale again.
Jackie Zwirn is the recent author of the critically acclaimed “Onion” Best Seller Show Me Where Spock Touched You and other heartwarming tales of Trekkery as well as the author of some of the most popular How-To manuals: Crab Walking Downstairs While Possessed and The Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, & Thief 101 Manual. She also authored the biography of Dean Winchester, When I Was a Demon: Rock Salt, Shot Guns and a Lotta Liquor.
She currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her husband, and two cats Mozart and Falcor.
And she never forgets her flash drive. Ever. Bazinga.