To loot or not to loot, that is the question. Dungeon crawlers that put an emphasis on collecting items are only as cool as the loot itself. While the best example of this genre on iOS is Dungeon Hunter, it’s also a shameless rip-off of Blizzard’s Diablo series. Mission Europa, from developer Banshee Soft, takes the hack-n-slash convention and attempts some interesting approaches to truly make something unique. Does it succeed, or does it die on the proverbial vine?
Mission Europa is one hell of an ambitious game. Instead of the usual one-screen tutorial page giving you a feel for all of the controls, there’s a 14-minute YouTube video that gives you a flavor for how to play the game. You’ll need it, too. Taking on Mission Europa without the benefit of that video may leave you confused on how to play.
Star trekkin’, across the universe.
Generally speaking, Mission Europa is a 3D first-person adventure game that blends hack-n-slash action with shooter mechanics, all tied together by a deep RPG leveling system with tons of loot to collect. Quite a mouthful, huh? Thankfully, the execution is surprisingly well done.
You progress through the game by completing levels accessed through a central hub. Each level gets gradually harder, so we’d recommend going in order as you progress.
From your first-person view, the user interface can intimidate you, as there’s a lot going on. You have your health bar, leveling bar, magic bar, and the modular slots where you can equip stuff like magic attacks or health refills. You can equip both hands with weapons or shields, and once you get the hang of the setup, things aren’t as intimidating.
We really enjoyed the combat in Mission Europa. The engine powering this game is very smooth, and we had no problem firing off weapons and getting headshots on enemies. We love the constant positive reinforcement, as every kill earns experience points and loot to collect. You’ll get guns, spells, melee weapons, armor, crystals, and so much more. Taking cues from the RPG world, you can even combine items to make a more potent or unique item. Achievements pop up for everything you accomplish, and you can even earn achievements for dying.
The storyline in Mission Europa, however, is largely forgettable. The game starts with you valiantly visiting a mining post that has eerily gone silent over the past several weeks. You discover things aren’t what they seem; cue dozens of monsters, and you have your story.
It’s not particularly compelling or original, and it did feel like a story inspired by the Dead Space universe. The voice acting and cutscenes make an attempt at immersion, but they’re clunky. It’s a shame the story doesn’t rise to the same level of the gameplay, but it’s a relatively small blemish on the whole package.
A hot mess.
Our biggest frustration with Mission Europa is the inconsistency of the visuals. The game runs on an outstanding 3D engine that is largely smooth, and it’s definitely up there with the best from a technical perspective. Our disappointment lies in the art direction of the game as, at times, it’s really ugly. You have conflicting fonts everywhere, enemy designs are noticeably polygonal and ugly, animations are stiff, and many environments look like an LSD-induced nightmare. Judging art is an admittedly subjectively exercise, but we’re not impressed by the aesthetic in Mission Europa.
Gamers have the choice of whether to purchase the regular or collector’s edition of Mission Europa. Either one is great value. Even with the regular edition, we got several hours of entertainment out of the core nine levels. The collector’s edition opens up 40 additional levels and gives you some starter loot to really let you hit the ground running. If this sounds like your kind of game, dive in and scoop up the collector’s edition. Folks that opt for the standard edition can purchase the additional levels through DLC, but you lose out on the bonus loot.
While Mission Europa doesn’t hit it out of the park in all aspects, it’s a very good game that has a lot of depth to it. The gameplay is addictive, leveling up is fun, and the loot delivers big time. Well done, Banshee Soft!