Non-combat games are slowly becoming more popular among Gamers worldwide. And it´s mainly thanks to titles such as “Journey“, “Flower” and “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture”. As they have received high praise due to their grand visuals, soundtrack and interesting ways of delivering a narrative. And “Abzu” looked like it would build on this. However, for all its beauty, it does miss the mark a few times which stops it from being an all-time great title.
The first thing that will wow you while playing “Abzu” is its stunning visuals and art direction. The game is incredibly colorful and playing it on a high-end TV with all the lights off is a site to behold. For the most part, “Abzu” is absolutely stunning as hundreds of colorful fishes swims you by, weeds linger in the sunlight and various aquatic life that populate each area. There are some absolute jaw-dropping moments from the first time that you see a Whale to swimming with Dolphins. The game runs at a steady 30FPS but there was some slowdown when swimming through a massive school of fish.
The sound is also fantastic. And that includes everything from the echoes of whales to the beautiful score by composer Austin Wintory (who also worked on “Journey”). As the music and the sounds add so much to the atmosphere when you´re swimming through each area. And that includes everything from a subtle violin to a loud rushing orchestra, and that truly does fit the game perfectly.
Unfortunately enough though, visuals and music are everything that “Abzu” has to offer As the game lacks of a solid gameplay aspect. Simply put, there’s not much else to do other than swim from place to place and hold on to the odd fish (or mammal). I was hoping “Abzu” would have more secrets to uncover and a good reason to return to it. “Abzu” is also an incredibly short game. My play time clocked in at two hours from start to finish, and there’s little else to the game, there’re not enough secrets, hidden places or collectables to warrant a second play through.
And quite frankly, I had hoped for something a little more taxing for puzzles too. As there are no challenges to be found in “Abzu”. Sure, that might be welcome to some, but it did start to feel like a chore rather than something exciting. And with the environments that you find yourself in, I really would have thought more could have been done in them to keep you occupied for longer than ten minutes.
The story is also a bit odd. As nothing is really explained as to who or what you are and why you are doing the things that you do (other than several ruins you’ll travel in covered in Ancient murals), and by the end of the game after a rather impressive sequence. I was still left a little confused as to what the game was all about. However, what I took away from it was that the ocean is a marvelous place that must be treasured and no matter how advanced civilization gets, and one day we will all eventually end up at the bottom it.
At times, “Abzu” feels like a lost opportunity, as it´s downsides stopped it from becoming a true classic. And I think it´s safe to say that an online mechanic similar to “Journey” would have worked brilliantly in the case with “Abzu”. However, even though the two games feel very similar in style, “Abzu” just feels like a missed opportunity. Because many of the things that made “Journey” so special and powerful were the online interactions. And if they had been present in “Abzu”, then it would have created a unique experience each time you play, and it would also have add more replay value to “Abzu” as well.
Nevertheless, “Abzu” is without a doubt a stunning game with an awesome soundtrack. As “Abzu” really does show that the ocean consist of so much mystery and beauty, and that it´s such a great setting and environment for a game to take place in. Furthermore, the art design is brilliant and I honestly can’t state enough how beautiful the game looks on a big HD screen. So “Abzu” is most definitely worth a try for those who loved games such as “Flower” or “Journey”. As “Abzu” makes for a nice peaceful break from a stressful day, If only the gameplay was as deep as the depths you plunge during the two hours you’ll spend with it.
+ Stunning visuals
+ Great Soundtrack
– 2 hours Long
– No Replay value
– No Online
Replay value: 1/5
“Abzu” is a lovely break from a stressful day, but it’s not going to keep you chilled out for very long.
Developer: Giant Squid and 505 Games
Format: PS4 and PC
Genre: Non-combat Adventure
Resolution: 1080p 30FPS
Release date: 2016-02-08
Spent time: 2 Hours
Average grade internationally: 82.05% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 16
Install Size: 1.9GB
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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