Abzu is one of those games where you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring. The very premise of the game is effectively that you are underwater and just trying to have a good time. Unfortunately as things go on you can expect to face off against some powerful foes and this may be a deadlier swim than you had ever intended. The fact that the game has some lore and a bit of a story is always a nice bonus. The game isn’t very long but the time could definitely end up extending if you get lost or something which is very easy since there is no map.
The first half of the game is really focused on just swimming around but there is usually a general pattern. You have to find a way to power up the two chains leading into the main statue. To do this, you will have to usually find either a generator to turn on or have your robot blast through something. Your little drone robots are incredibly handy I should add so if you find one on the ground, make sure to pick it up. That being said, I think it may be mandatory anyway so you’ll find yourself doing that at some point.
The only active button you need to use in the game is the square button which allows you to interact with objects. This is how you progress items and get farther in the game. If you see an orange triangle show up anywhere then you have found exactly what you were looking for. That is your ticket. There are also meditation zones where you can space out for a while. It’s an interesting concept to be sure but….I don’t think you really need to worry about that one for too long outside of trophies.
The soundtrack is fairly mild here as it’s going for a very laidback array of music where you don’t even notice it half the time. I’d love some more rock themes or something of course but I do get why they didn’t go that way. The graphics are good. They don’t look quite as solid as the Thumper levels of course but all things considered I think they did a good job here. The explosions from the enemy squares were also good.
The second half of the game definitely picks up in the excitement factor since we get some actual action scenes and a sense of danger. It’s still nothing too high end of course as the focus is ultimately on exploration but it was a nice way to make things more interesting. There are a lot of paintings to establish some kind of lore and my personal guess is that humanity was wiped out by these robotic aliens. The main character managed to escape but he’s just not sure what to do anymore. That’s why he’s wondering around all over the place. I assume perhaps he has amnesia or something like that which I think would make sense in the context of the story.
I’ll definitely give Abzu credit for having large levels though. Part of why you can get lost in the first place is because the levels are absolutely massive. You can just be running around for ages and ages as you get used to the place. While you are in the water for 99% of the game, there are brief moments where you get to go on land. That was definitely fun and I wouldn’t have minded more sections like that. Land based movement is ultimately still the best if you ask me although 3D flying comes at a close second. Being able to do both kinds of movement like in Superman for Gamecube is ideal.
Overall, Abzu is a very low key game. My first impressions of it weren’t great but the game did soften me up as it went along. It ultimately became a game that could stand up on its own. Slowly but surely it got more interesting and that’s a good way to go out. Better to have an unimpressive opening and a solid ending than vice versa. Things got a little dicey for a minute there when it seemed like something was going to happen to the Shark but fortunately that was not the case. It’s not really the kind of game I would go out of my way to buy personally, but when it’s free like this I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re up for a game about exploring then this is as good a title as any to check out. That said, if you want something that’s a lot more plot focused involving water then you’re going to want to check out Super Mario Sunshine which to this day may be the definitive water based game.