I've been obsessed with this open-world take on Ghibli and Zelda for months, but its indie inspirations are just as exciting

Europa screenshot
(Image credit: Helder Pinto)

The developer behind Europa, an open-world adventure game I've long lauded for its lovely marriage of Ghibli-esque visuals and Zelda gameplay, has revealed its indie inspirations, and now I'm more excited for it than ever.

Zelda meets Ghibli is already an incredibly easy sell, but Europa is an even more compelling upcoming indie game now that we know it was inspired by genre greats including Journey, Gris, and ABZU. The official Europa Twitter account revealed as much when it took part in a recent social media trend in which small projects share the indie games they were inspired by. When it comes to indie inspirations, it's hard to top a lineup like this:

If you don't hang out in the indie space much, Gris is a 2D exploration game widely considered a masterpiece of artistic design and storytelling, itself inspired by the award-winning 2013 adventure game Journey, which raked in awards at launch for its visuals and story. ABZU is yet another highly evocative, emotional, meditative exploration game made by the art director of Journey.

Honestly, learning these are some of Europa's main inspirations makes me feel silly for not spotting them sooner and clears up some confusion I initially had about the game's direction. It's undoubtedly Zelda and Ghibli inspired, but there's a more pointedly therapeutic atmosphere to it that originally I mistook for emptiness.

I had been hoping that before release the developers would populate the world a little more and make it feel more lively, but now that I know it was explicitly influenced by these quietly beautiful studies on grief and loneliness, it all suddenly clicks. Now I want it to glide into its summer 2024 release window with all of the gentle grace of its forbearers.

In the meantime, here are the best Switch indie games you can play right now.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.