I've only just stumbled upon this upcoming pixel art RPG that takes queues from The Legend of Zelda and Studio Ghibli, and I doubt I'll stop thinking about it anytime soon.
Kloa - Child of the Forest (opens in new tab) places you in the sandals of a young adventurer out to bring life back to a once-flourishing forest, now caught in the grasp of rapid corruption known as the Ikari Curse.
The art is one way the charming RPG shows affection for Studio Ghibli's work, though the story also invites comparison. The famed Japanese animation studio has tackled all sorts of themes across its 37-year history, though environmentalism is seldom far from view. Princess Mononoke features lush forests also ravaged by a curse, Howl's Moving Castle sees quaint lands set ablaze by war, Pom Poko pits tanuki against man to slow rapid urbanization, and so on.
Kloa - Child of the Forest Isn't just borrowing from Studio Ghibli's playbook, though. As developer Wildpad Games explains on Kickstarter (opens in new tab), "the gorgeous natural landscapes" of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were also a reference point. You've also got oodles of Zelda lineage in the environmental puzzles you discover while journeying through myriad biomes, from mountain peaks to gloomy swamps.
What I've grown especially enamored with is the combat. You've got a katana to bonk foes over the head with and a bow for rangier affairs, and the dash that strings each move together puts me in the mind of Hyper Light Drifter. It remains to be seen how well-utilised it ends up being, but I'm content with the premise of mashing the heck out the dash button to get where I need to go between bouts.
As for the Kickstarter itself, things seem to be going well. Its initial goal of €35k was passed long ago, with subsequent stretch goals bringing a new area, a fishing mini-game, and console ports.
You'll also get to try a demo of the game soon, presumably on PC. In an update (opens in new tab) posted at the start of April, the developer notes that the Kloa - Child of the Forest demo is "practically finished", with release details coming soon. I am eagerly waiting.
For everything on the next Zelda game, check out our Tears of the Kingdom guide.