Author Topic: Europa (Switch) Preview  (Read 653 times)

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Offline lolmonade

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Europa (Switch) Preview
« on: April 18, 2024, 01:02:37 PM »

Europa may stir the spirit of adventure in you.

Video games are a great medium to scratch that itch for exploration.  In my day-to-day, cubicle squatting, paper pushing life, a yearning to break the monotony and have a wholly new experience can be constant, especially when the next vacation is out in the far future.  Even if not adorned with the high-octane, action-packed worlds of something like Spider-Man or inFamous, those quieter and more thought-provoking worlds can hit emotional peaks and artistic beauty that eclipses the potential graphical and framerate downgrades.  Europa is a quiet, lush world with expansive-looking landscapes, sparse patches of living creatures, and signs of civilization that either look abandoned or crumbling.

Europa is the story of a boy landing on the fictional, titular world.  As a nameless protagonist, I was led-along story beats by pages in a journal from an uncle who writes to their nephew of the wonders of Europa, and this uncharted world’s opportunity to be a new home for the human race.  He speaks of Europa as a paradise, and writes in language that not only describes the land but develops his character traits.  It’s a great way to manage story beats while also signposting, but the injection of his perspective colors the world in a way that left me questioning whether we’re getting the unvarnished truth or his rose-colored view.

Europa does this neat trick where while the landscapes made me feel like the scope was endless, different areas are broken up into still large, but constrained zones.  These broad spaces have the streamlined tasks earmarked by journal entries but you’re welcome to investigate every nook and cranny for collectables or to see all the sights.  Movement across the world is quiet and slower paced, but it feels intentional to force the player to stop and smell the roses.  A jump, charge jump, glide, and a booster backpack don’t increase your speed, but do increase the verticality of Europa.  The booster pack needs refills from glistening blue orbs, but in the demo they were littered about and didn’t pose any restrictions. The joy I felt in shooting up like a rocket and then slowly gliding back down to earth was palpable and never got tiring.

I would be remiss to not touch on performance, art, and audio production.  In a prior Steam Next Fest, I had the pleasure of trying out this same demo on PC.  While the PC is undeniably the better performing platform depending on your rig, I did not find the Switch demo to be such a step down that it’d mar the experience.  The world is gorgeous but not crisply drawn, which allowed a graphical hit without sacrificing the wonder and beauty.  Think of something like thatgamecompany’s Flower – the PlayStation 3 original has all the beauty and depth of more current ports, but just lacks some of the crisp single blades of grass and can’t hit sixty frames per second.  Europa’s charm is married with a soundtrack anchored by quiet piano and stringed instruments that crescendos into sweeping moments to create wonderful exclamation points of emotion.

If the demo is a good reflection of the final release, Europa will provide a world to explore with heart in story and presentation that is undeniable.  Europa comes to Nintendo Switch later this year.