Have you ever been entranced by the beauty of the wildlife and plant life that lives underwater? Have you ever wondered what mysteries lay within the the ocean’s depths? Or do you enjoy an experience that feels serene and calming? If any of those rang true, then Abzu is the game for you.
In Abzu you play as a diver exploring the ocean’s vast depths, discovering the wonders of it all while also helping restore life back to this section of nature, discovering the beautiful sea creatures and underwater flora all throughout this game. Abzu is a game that came out in 2016 and was developed by Giant Squid Studios and 505 Games. Bringing back some of the brilliant minds behind Journey, another beautiful and stunning indie title, this game captured the attention and hearts of gamers. With good reason too – this game is truly a memorable and worthwhile experience, filled with stunning visuals, beautiful music and evocative emotions.
One of the most highly praised aspects of this game is its visuals and rightfully so. From the crisp, light-blue surfaces of the waves down to the bubbles and jellyfish that float in the midnight-blue depths and ancient architecture lying beneath, this game celebrates the beauty of nature and the wonders of the sea. As the game opens with the diver resting on the surface of water, letting the small waves lap up and crash against them, you can tell you are in for a visual treat. The player gets to admire the lush greens of the algae and swim through long strands of pink seaweed all while accompanied by different sea creatures. Small yellow fishes zoom by while a sea turtle slowly makes its way through the waters. You can interact with the turtle as well! The passion is clear through every frame and section of this underwater wonderland.
The dedication to detail becomes evident each time you get one of the collectibles of the game: a meditation statue. These are just what they sound to be. Once you find one of these statues hidden amongst the flora and sea life you will sit criss-cross on top of it. From this spot you can enjoy a moment of peace and serenity as fish swim by you. Pressing a button to meditate, you can then focus on a fish and get a little descriptor of it, something that really adds to the game. It is a moment for the player to slow down, take a deep breath and re-immerse themselves into this experience.
Visuals aren’t the only thing that makes this experience so captivating though. Praise must be given to Austin Wintory as well who created a lovely soundtrack for this game. Whether you have read one of my previous articles or this is your first one you are reading, then you will quickly learn that I am someone who deeply appreciates a good soundtrack to a video game. I believe that music can help elevate the experience a player has with a game and if done right can help compliment the game’s strong suits and evoke desired emotions from the player. I am pleased to say that Abzu’s soundtrack does just that. Through the gentle instruments and vocals Wintory was able to capture the feeling of adventure and mystery of exploring the depths of the sea. One particular track that I think stands out as a personal favorite of mine is “Delphinus Delphis“. The lively, playful notes perfectly pull the player into the world of Abzu. This single track takes you through so many emotions and feelings in and of itself but it is even more powerful when you are exploring the depths.
The story of Abzu is a beautiful one and with the music and visuals to boot it is a game you don’t want to miss out on. The gameplay overall is fairly straightforward and easy to navigate. If you are looking for a game that focuses more on a calmer, meditative feeling and if you are drawn to nature and want to delve into that then this game is right up your alley. While it is fun to go on grand adventures that span vast lands and take up many hours, sometimes the opposite of that can be just as fulfilling and worthwhile. Abzu is a short game lasting only around two hours and focuses on a tight, interesting plot. So if you are in the mood for a slower-paced and calming game or if you want to escape from the stressors of life for a few short hours then please consider picking up Abzu and giving it a try for yourself. It is a truly worthwhile game that I think will stick with players long after they set down their controller.
If you are interested in giving it a try, it is available on Switch, PS4, Windows and Xbox One. It isn’t an expensive game and tends to show up on sales from time to time. So set aside your worries and dive into the watery depths of Abzu.