When I first heard about ABZU, I was immediately drawn in by its art style, graphical wow-factor, and its premise of deep-sea exploration into areas unknown. To make things even more appealing, the game is designed by Giant Squid, a game studio founded by Matt Nava – the art director behind Flower and Journey. You’ll easily see the Journey influence on this new title just by looking over the screenshots and character model for this game.
Although I’ve never played Journey (a shame, I know!), my experiences so far with ABZU have made me want to go back and give that one a playthrough. From everything I can tell, the overall atmosphere is very similar: ABZU has no dialogue whatsoever, instead relying on environmental exploration, reliefs found on ancient structures, and abstract mystical events to deliver a powerful story to the player. Your character awakens somewhere out in the ocean, equipped with nothing more than an aquatic suit and breather. There’s no explanation as to how they arrived there, and there aren’t any clues given as to what we must do. Ultimately, it’s all about the journey (get it?) and what the player gets out of the experience.
So far, in about two hours worth of playing, I’ve explored four major “levels” of the game. Everything is quite varied, ranging from tropical reefs, kelp forests, deep-sea caverns, dark regions populated with bioflourescent creatures, ancient aquatic ruins, and even strangely futuristic machinery. There are puzzles to be solved and obstacles to overcome, but you’re never in any true danger and you can take your time exploring, finding all the little secrets, and meditating on the secrets of the sea (and nature in general).
I’ve heard the game is fairly short (perhaps between two and three hours of playtime), so I know I’m nearing the end of my experience, yet I’m enjoying everything the game has to offer.
I’ll eventually write up a full review and possibly offer some other sort of coverage, but for now, suffice it to say that ABZU really has me drawn into it. You can grab the game on Steam for $19.99 and trust me – it’s well worth it!