ABZU is an underwater exploration game set in a vibrant ocean that’s teaming with life and full of mystery.You’ll interact with the abundant sea life as you discover what lies deep in the heart of the ocean. Is ABZU worth diving into? Read our review below to find out..
First things first, Abzu is less of a game and more of an experience. You control a character known only as “The Diver”, who seems to be either asleep or unconscious in the water at the beginning of the game. There’s no dialogue or story to tell you exactly what is going on here so you have to draw your own conclusions. Anyway, you wake up/come round and are then free to control The Diver and are taken through a quick tutorial with on-screen prompts for the controls, which are fairly straight forward to get to grips with. Almost instantly you get the feel of how fluid the controls are, along with the freedom to move around freely in each area.
The purpose of the game is to explore each area, and find what is needed to move onto the next, this varies a little but does become repetitive as performing each action needed to move on to the next area isn’t very engaging or taxing, even the parts that seem to be puzzle based are overly simple with the game pointing you in the right direction almost every step of the way.
You are also able to interact with some of the larger fish within the game and ‘ride’ them, with the ability to control them too. though this is more of a novelty and by the halfway point of the game I was happy enough to swim around by myself as riding the fish does become restrictive as to where you can take them. The game does feature some ‘rush’ events where you are swept along by strong currents to another area but these are highly under used and you can just sit there without touching anything and make it to the next area. There’s no way to die in Abzu, so the sense of urgency and making you move around the screen as you’re rushed along in the current to avoid obstacles and ultimately death is lost here. Even later in the game there’s a presence that can attack you, but does no damage and just knocks you back, becoming more of an annoyance than a threat.
The game is fairly short, and depending on how you approach it, it can be completed with 1-4 hours. It is definitely more rewarding for those that like to take their time to have a good look around and take in the game’s visuals and find collectables as there’s plenty to admire in both departments here. Collectables come in a couple of forms, first there’s shells that can be found dotted around the game, the same goes for trapped fish which can be found in small rings of pink coral. There’s also meditation altars to find too, here you can sit and switch between the various fish in the area and just watch them as they swim around and interact with each other including eating each other, turning your console and TV into a virtual aquarium of sorts.
The visuals are Abzu’s best point. The art style and colour palette changes throughout do leave you with some awe-inspiring scenes, the dramatic changes from shallow pools filled with light and a variety of pinks, greens, reds and blues along with an abundance of sea life, to huge deep open areas where you can’t see the bottom of the ocean and it’s all murky and dark, it’s quite impressive. The soundtrack too fits well with the games mysterious goings on and helps with the immersion.