I feel like I need to begin this review by letting you know that I am incredibly biased when it comes to the video game developer Giant Squid. I’ve loved every game they’ve done so far when they were making games with That Game Company. I was completely blown away by their memorable hit Journey which pushed me play their previously released games Flower and flOw. So with full transparency, I’m letting everyone know up front that in my mind, the folks behind these games can do no wrong. That said, Giant Squid’s latest release, ABZU was a great play for me but might be an acquired taste for others.
Click the image below to see screenshots from the game.
ABZU begins with “the diver” floating in the middle of an ocean. Other than teaching the player how to used the controls, everything else is left up to the player to discover. You swim around interacting with things (don’t worry, you’ll know when you need to do things that are required).
That’s really about it. The rest is up to you and how much time you decide to spend playing.
The game isn’t about fighting and there isn’t even any talking. ABZU is about exploring and solving puzzles that advance you through different experiences and visual eye candy. Just as Giant Squid games before, it’s more of an artistic playthrough than a button mashfest or shoot ‘em all.
ABZU is totally safe for young eyes as there’s no violence except for a few explosions and electric shocks here and there. Otherwise, it’s perfect for kids, especially if they love sea creatures. The art in the game is awesomely beautiful and relaxing. For infants reaching toddler age, I’d recommend using the game’s “meditate” feature so they can watch the fish swim around. That along with the ABZU’s music (composed by Austin Wintory) will surely soothe the most adrenaline-overfueled tot.
The gameplay probably won’t be a win for kids since they haven’t developed an appreciation for its subtle artistry. However, swimming around in the ocean might be enough to satisfy a young mind but I doubt, it would last for long.
In all honesty, ABZU feels like a mix between Flower and Journey. To some that’s a good thing as I thoroughly enjoyed it (I told you I was biased). For others, it could be seen as a lazy way to get a new game out fast. Even if the latter were the case, there’s no denying that ABZU is a pleasant distraction from blasting zombies and delivering flaming uppercuts to opponents.
ABZU is available now on PS4 and PC for $19.99. XBOX One will be supported later this year.