ABZÛ by Giant Squid
‘The game that launched one thousand screenshots’
From the creator of such masterpieces as Flower and Journey, comes the equally inspired adventure game: ABZÛ. Brimming with stunning underwater environments and countless sea creatures, this thalassophile’s paradise is perfect for players of any age and disposition.
Let’s dive right into what makes ABZÛ such a great game, and not just a glorified aquarium simulator. As you’re gliding across its ocean depths, a flood of sea creatures come to life around you, reacting to your very presence. Their behavior is very natural, as the developers studied the movement patterns of each and every critter you encounter. To top it all off, you can even ride any leviathans you find, be it the gigantic oceanic manta ray or the majestic blue whale.
ABZÛ is not a perfect game however, with the most noticeable issues stemming from its graphical glitches. From being able to see other levels through invisible walls or watching some sea creatures clip into each other, these small flaws have little impact on your actual enjoyment of the game. If you care to look closely enough, you’ll find that past all of the splendor and colorful textures, the details of ABZÛ’s inhabitants can get a bit underwhelming. While each individual part alone doesn’t amount to much, it’s their skillful combination with proper lighting, lively color schemes, and a live orchestral soundtrack that turns this flaw into an almost non-issue. One could even go so far to argue that this simplistic style was intentional, similar to why the creators of Finding Nemo reduced the amount of clutter in its coral reef to make it less distracting from the main attractions.
As you might imagine, ABZÛ does have some above-average system requirements, so think carefully about your computers capabilities. For reference, I run a GTX760 with an i5-4690k CPU which gave me ~40-55 fps depending on the complexity of the scene (on all high graphics, with V-Sync OFF). When I first tried this game, it seemed to cap low at 30fps which turned me away at first; but due to unexplained updates, it ran much smoother when I tried it a few months later. The most important setting when it comes to achieving optimal fps is turning V-Sync off.
Despite its flaws, ABZÛ has amazed me with its elegant style and passion to create the most enthralling ocean exploration game to date. Requiring only two hours of your time, and only~$6 when on sale, there are few reasons not to try ABZÛ.
(Available for Windows, Xbox, and PlayStation)
A controller is highly recommended for optimal gameplay experience.