Eole: Letting the Mind Soar
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
The beauty of indie games is their willingness to do the unexpected. To intentionally step outside of the well-worn pathways games have followed for decades. No matter how complex or short they are, they have the potential to leave a lasting impression by trying something unusual. As a fan of, let's say, "non-traditional" flight titles, it's games like this that have a special place in my mind.
Created by a five-person team, Eole is a short arcade flight experience available on Itch.io - a platform for just about every type of indie game you can think of. Dubbing itself a "contemplative flight sim" I could not help but wonder what that even means.
After loading up the game, I was greeted by a rather artistic main menu. Taking time to appreciate it led to a nice and neat button rebinding screen that demonstrates button inputs by moving a miniature version of the player's aircraft on screen. It was a pleasant surprise to find that keys could be set for gamepads and flight sticks. Although more advanced controllers are a bit harder to set up, using the pre-game launch Unity menu to bind keys is recommended.
This game is firmly arcadey enough for anyone to pick up and enjoy. The flight controls are nowhere near flight simulation level aside from knowing how to roll, pitch, and yaw to maneuver. Going full throttle and pulling straight up is enough to get the player out of most situations, and the penalty for a fatal crash is a quick reset of aircraft position somewhat far away from the impact site.
Instead of being met by a busy metropolitan airport or a burning war-torn countryside, the game opens with a Cessna-like aircraft flying towards a pair of dimly lit yellow torches. Upon passing them, they turn to a bright blue blaze. In the distance are floating islands covered in trees, waterfalls, and mysterious ruins. There are no other in-game directions. Now knowing that the torches hold some significant meaning, seeking them out appeared to be the only way forward to whatever lay in wait.
What was nice about having no direction was how it let my imagination soar. Zigzagging through trees leads to finding decayed homes and a dilapidated amphitheater. Flying between the arms and legs of Titan-sized statues of two warriors in combat made me question who they were and why such massive sculptures were erected. This line of thought continued as I flew past the next set of ruins discovered, and day and night, steadily cycled on. The only companions in this airborne archeological trip are the slow music and gusting winds.
The name "Eole" translates from French to English to "Aeolus," the name of the Greek divine keeper of the winds and king of the mythical floating island of Aeolia. The brief description of the game's download page mentions a confederation of kings and their marvelous power that influenced the floating islands and continents below.
While roaming the skies of what I assume is all that remains of their domain, I couldn't help but try to piece together what their civilization may have looked like. Or what exactly their great power was. The title "contemplative flight sim" then became clear. In a span of fewer than 30 minutes, this game certainly had me thinking somewhat seriously about even the most minor details of terrain or crumbled man-made structures.
Eole isn't a genre-redefining game, but the vein of creativity it portrays is worth noting. Games like Flower, Sky Odyssey, and SKYE come to mind as I reflect on it. For anyone that has a decent computer and is in need of a calm flight session that costs nothing but a bit of their time, this free-to-download game is well worth it. Where do those torches lead? What is the forgotten power lost somewhere within that fantastical land? Why not find it for yourself?
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.