Today's pre-Game Awards Wholesome Snack presentation closed with a bit of a banger: Europa (opens in new tab), "a peaceful game of adventure, exploration, and meditation" that looks firmly in the same vein as Sable (opens in new tab) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild—a beautiful, stylized open world adventure with an emphasis on discovery and puzzle solving.
Publisher Future Friends Games writes "On the moon Europa, a lush terraformed paradise in Jupiter's shadow, an android named Zee sets out in search of answers." Future Friends says players will "run, glide, and fly across the landscape, solve mysteries in the ruins of a fallen utopia, and discover the story of the last human alive."
Europa's primary developer is Helder Pinto, an environment artist who has worked on Overwatch and Overwatch 2. Pinto looks to still be actively employed at Blizzard, at least according to his LinkedIn, and it's mind-boggling to me that someone could make something this dazzling while already having a day job making games, but Pinto's environment art expertise is apparent in Europa.
I love how the trailer begins with a shot of Jupiter looming behind lush green hills. It immediately communicates the setting, the terraformed Jovian moon, but also? I'm just always happy to see a videogame skybox get nutty with it. Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls (opens in new tab) took the Coward's Gambit and just subbed in a jpeg of Mars for our own moon to make their "alien skies"— boring! I want to see more like the GOAT, Majora's Mask, and its killer moon gradually descending into the Earth, or the looter shooter Destiny, which has its own great Jupiter-dominated skyboxes in its depictions of Io and Europa.
There's a throughline in the architectural style of the ruins in Europa, which are reminiscent of Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky. Otherwise though the trailer showcases a great variety of biomes. You've got verdant fields, a deep, possibly underground canyon, snowy mountaintops, and a complex laid out like a French chateau.
One sequence shows Zee platforming amidst ruins floating in the clouds, and there are a number of flying islands throughout the trailer. I think this is an exciting idea for Europa's world—some of my favorite sequences in Sable involved floating islands, and BotW's sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, looks to be leaning into this sort of design as well.
With all our seamless open worlds these days, there's a shameful paucity of floating islands in games, and Europa looks to seriously deliver on that front. Europa is currently set to release in 2023, and you can wishlist it now on Steam (opens in new tab). I for one can't wait to vibe in some mournful sci-fi/fantasy flying cities and maybe get my heart broken by some tastefully tragic lore.