Sink or swim? Journey’s art director takes us from desert to ocean for an underwater epic.
If you enjoyed 2012’s Journey there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy Abzû, and for good reason. Journey’s Art Director – Matt Nava – formed the studio Giant Squid following Journey’s success. Like his previous title, the new oceanic adventure is less of a game and more of an interactive experience, masterfully bridging the gap between art and interactivity.
The depths of Abzû’s oceanic environment are serene and mesmerising, backed up by a fantastic score. Occasional explorable areas break up the main bulk of travelling through corridor routes that are all teeming with marine life. These mini sandboxes enable you to find collectables and even meditate – letting you take five and admire the schools and shoals of marine life as they swoop by – eventually solving a simple puzzle in order to progress. There’s even an ecosystem in place, so you might catch a fish nabbing a smaller one as prey.
Abzû is filled with powerful moments, an impressive feat for a game with a nameless, speechless main character. It features one of the most tranquil scenes I’ve experienced in recent games involving a pack of blue whales; I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to experience that for yourself.
It’s hardly surprising that you’ll be doing a lot swimming in Abzû. Thankfully, the control scheme is simple and movement is fluid, allowing you to glide through the big blue with ease and grace. Tapping A (using an Xbox controller on PC) kicks your diver’s legs for a short boost. Couple this with a swoop upwards and you can breach the surface, usually with a school of fish in tow for a satisfying moment you’ll want to experience more than once.
Abzû’s short campaign captures beauty at the bottom of the ocean with a unique art style and emotional journey without a word being spoken. The only downfall is its length of only 2-3 hours. The vibrantly coloured world and fluid movement make you want to breaststroke with your gilled pals all day long.
There’s no doubt I’ll come back for another dip in Abzû’s glorious ocean. I just wish there was a little more to do there.