ABZU Game Review

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” – Sir David Attenborough

ABZU is a game where you play as a diver and explore the ocean, well there is more to it than that. It is Journey in the sea. ABZU is made by Giant Squid Studios, whose members worked on Journey. It was released in August of 2016 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. I played it for PC and PS4, it was free on PS4… don’t judge.

 

Characters

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Protagonist or the Diver, is… the diver. Diver is here and explores the ocean and seemingly breathes life back into the deader parts of the ocean.

Great White Shark is the only other real character in the story. This shark is very mysterious since it doesn’t seem to harm the Diver but does not like the machines the Diver has.

 

Story

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The story of ABZU is… there but you have to figure it out. There seems to be a backstory, and even extraterrestrial vibe, but none of this is actually explained. Diver is here and is returning life to the ocean, the Great White Shark has its own schedule, but nothing is ever said to the player. I haven’t dug too deep into this, but I think I will need to watch a theory video on this later.

 

Gameplay

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Simply put, this is a walking simulator, with walking replaced with diving. While I was unimpressed by walking simulators like Gone Home, this one had a beautiful world to back it up.

Being a walking simulator, there is no way to actually lose or die in ABZU.

 

the Bad

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About half way through the game, ABZU introduces proximity mines throughout the ocean, and this kind of felt like a bump in a very smooth ride. This felt like the stealth section in Journey, it does not feel like it belongs here. The only logical reason I can think of is to add tension, but that can be done with atmosphere alone, just take a look at any Silent Hill game. Or it was to add gameplay, but the this didn’t need it. The only part the mines were okay was near the end where it seems like the microwave scene from Metal Gear Solid 4. Apart from that, the mines were unnecessary.

 

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The controls for the Diver is tanky, I don’t think they could have made it otherwise. For most of the time, this wasn’t a problem at all. But when the Diver is too far away, or when the camera decide to go in a weird angle. the combination can make the Diver feel really confusing to control.

 

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When the Diver has these help robots following, their engine noises can get rather loud when they are near the Diver. Sure that may be realistic, but it clashes and drowns out the music in the background.

 

the Good

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Where do I begin. The colors of this game is simply amazing. This along with the artisitc style, it looks like every frame of game is a painting. With its lack of and UI elements, literally any second of gameplay can be a desktop wallpaper, it’s that good.

 

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ABZU is really minimalistic, there is no UI, there is no spoken dialogues, and there is only implied story. I like this.

 

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Playing this game reminded me a lot of Okami. There are a lot of vibrantly colored moments, there are also very barren ones, ones you have to breathe life and color into. Seeing this dead gray area becoming full of life again is very satisfying.

I finished the game in one and a half hours. It was short, but the length felt perfect. Nothing in the game overstayed its welcome and I was not bored by any aspect of the game. If the sequences and the overall game was long, I might have been bored at some point during the puzzles.

 

Verdict

  • Will I play this again? Yes, since it can be finished in one sitting, and it is beautiful as all heaven, I say yes.
  • Do I recommend it? Yes. If you like beautiful things, relaxing things, and nature, this is the game for you.

 

Final Thoughts

What is in a name? While doing some quick research on this game, I found that Abzu is Sumerian/ Mesopotamian term for primeval ocean, related to fresh water and life.

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I had rather high hope in this game since I heard good things about it. And I knew that it would look good. But when the game started, its visual blew me away and I had this really big fat smile on my face. That is a good sign.

Now I want to watch ocean creature documentaries by David Attenborough. If this game gets a David Attenborough voice over patch/ DLC, that would be fantastic.

Gihoon

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