Matt Nava, former art director at thatgamecompany, was responsible for some of the most beautiful games that resonated with gamers and non-gamers alike: Flower and Journey, both titles I reviewed with the Journey: Collector’s Edition. With his new company Giant Squid Studios and the help of composer Austin Wintory who also did the exceptional music on these games, his first title ABZÛ, originally released in 2016, continues the legacy of creating emotional and meaningful journeys without adhering to standard genre conventions and hectic button presses.
The title refers to two ancient words: AB, meaning ocean, and ZÛ, meaning to know. Playing as an unnamed female diver, one has to explore this ocean of wisdom, trying to find meaning behind relics of an old civilization and its technology. While swimming around the beautifully realized water and seeing all kinds of wondrous creatures takes up most of the time, there are still some item-based puzzles to solve, while interacting with the environment is essential to progress. Even if this all sounds like standard adventure fare, the absence of action makes this a more contemplative experience. Just like Journey, the story isn’t told in words, but is open to player’s interpretation. It might not be a game for everyone, but if one dives into the depths of this mysterious world (pun intended), one might find it just as fascinating as reaching that big mountain in the distance in thatgamecompany’s adventure game, accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and drawn in by graphics that still look great even after two years, something that is testament to the art direction’s quality.
ABZÛ is now available on GOG with a 50% launch discount that will last until March 23, 2018.
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