Abzu is a new game developed by Giant Squid Studios and published by 505 Games. It recently came out on Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows PC. To be completely honest I had no idea this game existed until I saw an ad for it one day while surfing the internet. After watching a couple of trailers and learning it took place in the ocean, my interest was piqued. I have been an ocean kid from as far back as I can remember and have had a profound love for her and the creatures that thrive within her. Living in North Texas doesn’t give me a lot of opportunities to satiate my need to get in the ocean so I will take whatever chances I can get. Abzu, for me, is a much-needed scratch to a very persistent itch. This game gave me an opportunity, albeit through simulation, to get in the ocean hang out with a variety of fish, dolphins, cephalopods, whales, and a few surprises.
Abzu is a very linear game that oddly gives the player many chances to explore their surroundings. And with the artistic style and color pallet used you’re going to want to explore. The control setup you use to navigate this underwater environment is all in all pretty decent and minimalist. It only took a small amount of time for me to figure things out. For a game that takes place underwater, I expected the controls to be clunky at best. I was proven wrong.
As far as the story goes…all I can say is that it’s there but not deep (no pun intended) by any means. Actually, it’s all but non-existent. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Abzu’s story; it’s just left up to the player to put the pieces together and figure it out. Which I did and enjoyed, even if it was short. Very short.
Abzu’s visual style is what hooked me, though. It’s simple character models, and colors are a delight. The animation is fluid, crisp, and true to life. The models and colors used for the various models are very accurate with a few artistic flourishes here and there.
Abzu’s soundtrack, composed by Austin Wintory, is an absolute delight. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Giant Squid hired the London Philharmonic to perform for them. While just swimming around the music seems to meander with the player and swells when the action picks up. I loved it. When I can find a copy, I will by one.
The only problem I had with Abzu was that it was short and didn’t give me any reason to play through again immediately and collect everything. That’s not to say I won’t play it again; it’ll just be on a slow rainy day when it happens.