Developer Giant Squid Studios Publisher 505 Games Format PC, PS4 Release August 2
The comparison is unavoidable: an enigmatic, mute protagonist; a mystery-soaked odyssey; bringing life to desolate locations. Abzu has more than a little of Journey about it. But then that’s hardly surprising given that Giant Squid is led by Journey art director Matt Nava.
Nor are those similarities a bad thing. Abzu’s sleek underwater movement invokes the same sense of liberation as
Journey’s soaring flight, but here that rush is never tainted by the need to return to the ground. And where Journey put countless grains of sand on screen, Abzu delights with schools of fish 10,000 strong. They react to your presence and the environment, adhere to the hierarchies of a simulated food chain, and will swim by your side when you call them by tapping Square. A bespoke lighting engine lends this underwater world a wonderful sense of authenticity and, tucked away in 505’s room at E3, we’re gifted a brief window of zen-like calm as we watch darting shoals brush aside the gently swaying reeds that rise from the sea bed.
Later on we encounter a great white shark (which will apparently be a recurring presence), some ancient architecture, and a portal to another realm, though Giant Squid isn’t yet ready to be drawn further on such interdimensional details.