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AbZu is fantastic as long as underwater exploration games go, it's just that. Relax, immerge yourself, ride the animals. 

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I have to disagree on this one, I thought it was shallow as hell. I was hoping for another Subnautica, not necessarily a build/survival game, but something with that depth of exploration and I was deeply disappointed.

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this is not a survival game. this is a swimming game. 

 

if you are stressed out and you need a game to play. this is the one for you.

 

relax.

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I really like ABZU. However, I feel that calling it a game is a tad misleading. It's more of an experience. The creator (Matt Nava) was the art director for Journey, and it really shows. ABZU is very relaxing, calming, and absolutely beautiful in art style, and is a love letter to scuba diving and all of the wondrous sea critters that can be found around the world. 

 

The gameplay is super simple. You are a diver. You swim, find little robot friends to remove obstacles, find and release new species of animals, and relax on dedicated 'meditation' spots where you can take the point of view of any of the fish/whales/turtles etc. that are in the area. There are a couple of 'puzzles' but they're really just there to make the chapters a bit more varied. There is no dialogue or text prompts; the story is told entirely through the environment and the setting itself.

 

So ABZU isn't a game you go to for a vast area to explore with multiple gameplay elements and things to do, and/or with an engaging and interactive story. Comparing it to Subnautica or similar really doesn't make sense; they are two completely different games with different audiences, and intentions. It's a game you go to escape, relax, or just admire the wonders the ocean has to offer. 

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A friend showed this to me but I have a serious phobia of the ocean or just being underwater in general and I had a hard time even watching someone else play it. I had to pass.

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I'm hesitant about calling ABZU a "game", however it's an absolutely beautiful experience that's worth playing through.

 

The game's overall creative direction is really well done; I love the colourful, vibrant, stylized art direction of the environments. One thing the game really nails is the sense of scale within the world around you. It does a fantastic job of making you realize just how small you are and how large this ocean ecosystem is. Nothing like swimming next to an Orca to make you realize just how small and insignificant you are.

 

The game's musical score is also well done. It syncs up well with the game's art direction. Serene music to go with the colourful, lively environments and utter silence and greyscale when in environments that you have to restore to their former glory.

 

Overall, I'd give this a rating of Fantastic.

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Posted (edited)

I think calling it an "experience", as other comments have, is a little pretentious... but not inaccurate.

This game doesn't require fast reflexes, though there are a few sections where you do need to react quickly to grab the (optional) collectibles. Some precision is helpful to bypass obstacles in the later parts of the game, though your punishment if you fail is just some wasted time. On that note, I found the controls adequate, though this game doesn't have universal controller support. I had to resort to using x360ce to use mine.

The puzzles are quite simple. There are two sets of collectibles: the shells and the life pools. Getting them all without a walkthrough is very doable, but you must explore thoroughly.

You can't die. You can't fail. There is no time limit. There is, as far as I know, no way to hard-lock nor soft-lock this game. You just figure out how to open the path ahead and proceed, until you get to the end.

This is a beautiful, artistic game. It's something to be enjoyed on a calm day or evening, while sipping on your drink of choice. It is very relaxing, and I found it very rewarding. If, however, you're looking for challenge or excitement, this is not it.

There is definitely replay value if you haven't gotten all the collectibles, if you just want to explore some more, or if you just need something mildly interactive to relax with. There is a chapter select available once the game is done, so you can return to whichever section you like.

I rate this game very highly.

Edited by Tobin (see edit history)

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It's derivative of Journey, which some might be fine with given it shares some staff with that game, but it does make it ring a little hollower if you've played Journey before.  That said, it's gorgeous and mellow, it's a good game to recommend to people who are usually more into adventure games and slower paced fare in general.  I have to say though, there are moments that fill me with intense pit-of-your-stomach dread that I don't think were intended to do so, particularly the bit with the blue whales and the first time you are out in the open ocean and you can't see the sea floor without diving for a couple minutes. 

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This one is a mixed bag. It's a bit hard to recommend because it is barely a game, it's more like what people nowadays call "walking simulators" (except it has more swimming than walking, but you get the idea). I liked the graphics, the music and the atmosphere. It's very contemplative and quite relaxing. Sometimes it feels a bit like... an interactive painting? It somewhat reminded me of Tomb Raider 3, if it had zero combat and was mostly underwater. I didn't like the fact that nothing was explained. Who are you? What's going on? What are these little robots? Is there a point in activating the fish things? It's also a bit of a "where the fuck do I go" kind of game, but it's kind of okay since you can admire the scenery while you are trying to find your way. This game is 10% puzzle, 20% exploration, 70% just vibing. Extremely chill, but a bit pointless. 

Edited by Chad Mojito (see edit history)

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