Abzu unparalleled as a meditative experience
As the line between interactive entertainment and art becomes increasingly blurred, Abzu seems like the perfect testament to where we are in the world of video game development.
Abzu is a melancholy, almost cathartic journey through an underwater world bristling with life and resplendent with majesty.
There's a striking sort of purity about Abzu that invites comparison to another, equally powerful game: Journey. As in Journey, Abzu's characters are nameless, its story wordless, its campaign brief.
It also eschews many mechanics we might consider standard for a modern adventure/exploration game, including combat, character progression, and fail states.
It even lacks the ambient multiplayer that made Journey such a profound experience for many players.
But Abzu finds meaning in other places and, like Journey, evokes a vast array of emotions with grace and ease.
You are cast as a nameless diver who communicates through sonic pings. The story is never explicitly conveyed, but will be alluded to in the world around you.
Although there is never a word of dialogue spoken, the game will even go so far as to use misdirection in order to subvert your previous expectations of the story.
Abzu is absolutely teeming with life. There isn't an inch of this game that isn't absolutely pulsing with vibrant, beautiful life.
Leviathan blue whales will totally dwarf your slender character, while heaving schools of miniature fish will engulf you from time to time.
There are times when dolphins will seem to imitate your actions, hightening the already prickling sense of immersion.
Purely from a gameplay point of view, Abzu is an unengaging experience. From a meditative perspective, Abzu is unparalleled.
The subtle shifts in musical tone which form an overall symphony of audible excellence, the breathtaking visuals and the magnificent sense of life imparted by this game make it absolutely worth a purchase.