Sunday, October 29, 2017


When I first heard about Abzû, what caught my attention was that its development team included several team members from the thatgamecompany game Journey, including its director, Matt Nava, and its composer, Austin Wintory. This combined with its art direction and underwater setting, I had been eager to play it when it was released digitally, however I decided to wait on it once a physical release had been announced, receiving it last month as a birthday present. Having finally played the game, I think the wait was worth it.

The game follows an unnamed diver in the middle of the ocean. Once the player learns how to swim, the diver is able to explore the ocean floor beneath them, following a path to an undisclosed destination. The diver can also interact with the sea life before them, including the ability to ride them.

The game’s controls are very simple, making it easy for anyone to pick up and play. The camera and swimming controls can also be adjusted in the pause screen, which mainly affects whether the y-axis is inverted or not. The gameplay itself is very easy to get into, allowing one to get absorbed into the game world. In terms of graphics, the Abzû is a visual spectacle, with a surprisingly wide variety of marine life and a very stylized aesthetic reminiscent of Journey. The music by Austin Wintory works really well with the game’s setting and is actually available on CD for those who are curious.

There isn’t much I can say about the game (even with avoiding spoilers), as the game can be beaten in roughly two hours on the first go. You can, however, get more out of the experience by searching for hidden collectibles within each level, as well as some hidden wells that can release new fish into the game world. There’s also a Meditation mode, which allows you to visit Meditation Spots you have found within the game and observe the fish in each area. Interestingly, the game is also slightly educational, if only because it will often actually tell you what species of fish you are looking at.

While short, Abzû is an experience that’s well worth going through at least once. Though developed by Giant Squid Studios, it can easily be mistaken for a thatgamecompany game (which I would consider a complement), due to it having a similar experience to Journey, helped by its development team including members of that team. If you are a fan of thatgamecompany’s games and are looking for a similar experience from a different team, I would highly recommend picking up this title. Fans of the ocean and ocean life may also enjoy this game, as it is a very enjoyable diving simulator that seems to have done its homework on marine life. If any of their future games prove to be this good, I can’t wait to see what kind of experience Giant Squid Studios will deliver next.

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