New Game Review

Review – Abzû (Switch)

Too much water.

I don’t know how I missed Abzû when it first released  in 2016. Maybe it was the fact people were telling me that “It’s like Journey“, a game that left a really bad impression on me. Maybe it was the fact I was too busy murdering demons left and right in Doom, and wasn’t ready to slow things down. It doesn’t matter anymore, Abzû is out on the Switch, I got my hands on a copy and I must admit, I missed out the first time around.

abzu1
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Abzû is a game about a nameless diver exploring the depths of the ocean, meeting new sea creatures and encountering breathtaking sights along the way. Although there are light hints of a plot revolving around an ancient civilization, nothing plot-related managed to catch my attention. It was Abzû‘s gameplay, relaxing nature and production values that glued my face to the Switch’s screen.

The swimming mechanics are great. The simple act of diving and moving around the vast openness of the deep blue ocean is a simple and pleasant experience. I’ve spent a lot of time just fooling around and riding bigger beasts such as sharks and orca whales, all while trying to make them do some acrobatics near the surface. The camera controls are sluggish and quite clunky so there were moments when the camera would stick in disorienting ways.

abzu2
I’d like to be under the sea.

The core mechanics are cool and all, but Abzû‘s production values are what make it stand out. This is a beautiful game that manages to run pretty well on the Switch’s limited hardware, always managing to maintain a decent frame rate even when there are hundreds of fish and light particles onscreen. Your character model, however, could have been a bit less minimalist, but that’s a design choice.

The soundtrack is another standout. Despite my distaste for Journey, its soundtrack was fantastic. Abzû‘s soundtrack features the same composer and he’s proof that lightning can strike twice. The beautiful orchestral tunes are perfect for the laid-back experience that this game provides.

abzu5
I have no idea why riding on manta rays is so much fun in this game.

If you’re looking for a straightforward plot and clear objectives, Abzû isn’t the game for you. Heck, I was playing this game until half an hour before starting to write this review and I can barely remember anything about its plot beyond some trippy imagery involving light-based orcas and some other freaky stuff. I’ve spent most of my time looking for secret terminals that unlock more animals for you to ride on.

abzu4
What a weird place to do some meditation.

Abzû is an impressive title. Best described as a relaxation game, this title proved to be right at home on the Switch’s portable hardware. For the current asking price, it’s a steal. While the core linear game can be beaten in just a few hours, it strangely has a ton of replayability due to its simple and accessible gameplay, along with its refreshing visuals and soundtrack.

 

Graphics: 9.0

The underwater visuals are breathtaking both on docked and handheld mode. The frame rate is solid and the sea creatures all look great.

Gameplay: 8.5

Swimming mechanics are easy to learn and very responsive. Riding on top of bigger animals is also easy and entertaining. But sticky cameras can get frustrating.

Sound: 9.0

It may have some compressed sound effects, but you can’t deny how great and immersive this game’s orchestral soundtrack is.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Abzû doesn’t provide clear objectives or action of any story. It’s a linear and cryptic adventure. Fooling around underwater, unveiling secrets and new creatures, and relaxing with the great soundtrack are what make the game great.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Abzû is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Abzû was provided by the publisher.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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