ABZU | Giant Squid/505 Games
Deep and Meaningful.
by Felipe Parada
It is very rare that we get a game that takes place completely underwater because it delves onto our fears of the deep. We always have this sensation that we are going to run out of air or that a shark is going to jump out and eat us but Abzu manages to wipe away those fears by removing the danger aspect and giving us complete control over how we explore the ocean. It's hard to not to make that comparison that Abzu is "Journey but underwater" and it is probably a fair statement but Abzu has manages to craft its own story with rich beautiful scenery and a large sense of exploration at its core.
Definitely a game that has gone under the radar due to the heavy anticipation of No Man's Sky but if we look at the full release schedule of August 2016 we see that there were quite a bit of games released that were of interest:
Abzu – August 2
Batman: The Telltale Series – August 2
No Man's Sky – August 9
Obduction – August 22
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – August 23
Attack on Titan – August 30
World of Warcraft: Legion – August 30
It's interesting to see Abzu as part of the bunch because it's one of the more mellow games out of the group. Sure No Man's Sky and Obduction are similar in the sense of laid back exploration but there are moments of action that shake it up. With Giant Squid's previous masterpiece Journey and Flower, you would think that people would go crazy for their next adventure but sadly that wasn't the case. Sitting with a score of 78 on Metacritic, it seems that not that many players were ready to take the plunge into this new underwater adventure. But if you look deep enough (pun intended) you will see there there is a game oozing with character.
Story isn't told to you from the start but the game does do a fantastic job conveying the message in it's environment. Whether you are interacting with plant life or sea life you are always given a sense to progress forward and uncover the mysteries of the deep. The highlights of Abzu come in several sequences where the diver is taken by a current and sent careening through the ocean. Rushing through the ocean as dolphins and whales that swim by your side make for a beautiful scene that Hollywood count re-create. The game can be completed in just a couple of hours but what's important is how impactful those couple of hours are and Giant Squid seems to have the formula down pact.
The world itself is enough to recommend Abzu as the entire game being one gigantic distraction. Where Journey felt like a solitary experience, Abzu is just beaming with life. You have life all around you so not adding co-op makes perfect sense. Sometime I will just load up the game and just explore the gorgeous environment which I do feel that should have a VR experience somewhere in the future. It's just a shame that this game didn't get the recognition it deserved.