Abzu is the latest game developed by Giant Squid, the developers made famous by their previous artistic title Journey. The similarities are striking and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Abzu is the Journey of the sea. The artistic style, the level design, and subtle methods of story telling are strikingly similar.
Giant Squid has further perfected the striking use of color and sound design to create majestic environments that are vibrant with life that clash with the mechanized industrial feel of later environments. Music seems to effortlessly flow with your characters movements as you swim with turtles, dolphins, and fish.
Abzu won’t be known for inventing some new game mechanic or having stellar gameplay. It’s entered an expanding genre of games that excel at story telling through exploration. Being apply to decode the hieroglyphs and environment to uncover the story of who you are. As you progress through the game the story of a lost civilization is reveled to you. Destroyed by their thirst to control the powers that gave life to the oceans, it doesn’t take much effort to see the questions the game is trying to ask us.
The story presented by Abzu is one of caution to modern man’s struggle between seeking power and advancement at the cost of destroying the life and beauty of earth. Does the answer to our problems lie in the unending advancement of machine and the need for power? Or is there more of a deeper purpose to preserve the world around us?
Grappling with these questions might go in the way of Accelerationism theory, or does it? As modern man progresses with technology we find new ways to destroyed and heal the habitats we once thought would be gone for good. Along with this comes a darker side of the endless need to grow and expand consumerism. Maybe the advancement of technology can continue without this? These are the kinds of questions we can derive from this game.
To be able to grapple with these themes using imagery alone is quite stunning. Being caught in such an ecstatically pleasing world with some of the best sound design on the market only makes the journey of exploring these questions more interesting.