Abzû Switch Review

Posted December 11, 2018 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Giant Squid, Room 8

Publisher: 505 Games

Release Date: November 29th, 2018

Platforms: Switch(also on PC, PS4, Xbox One)

In 2017, video game developer Giant Squid, a team that included several members who worked on the game Journey, released the aquatic hit Abzû. Thanks to 505 Games, Giant Squid and the assist they had from Room 8, we had the opportunity to take out Nintendo Switch out for a swim and dive deep into that beautiful, mysterious ocean once again.

Although the narrative lacks in content, it takes a minimalistic approach to storytelling and that only helps encourage you explore the deepest parts of the games oceans, picking up the small clues you’ll discover on your way. The controls for Abzû are simple with the right trigger propels your character forward, while the X button will activate things in the environment and the left trigger will latch onto nearby fish for a free ride. It’s simple control scheme only helps move the game play forward and immerses the player in Abzû‘s world even more. Although the controls are incredibly fluid, I will admit that on more than one occasion I found myself frustrated with the way your character moves. Sometimes I’d end perform flips and twirls in the water I wasn’t actually trying to do and the position of my character didn’t make the flourish necessary.

Abzû is simply a gorgeous game.

The ocean does a wonderful job feeling as large and alive as it does despite being linked together by all of these small tunnels and paths that it’s constantly luring you into. Though admittedly, these little paths and caves tend to create some magnificent set pieces. One such instance is the beginning areas. You start off in a beautiful part of the ocean, kelp covers the surface as you navigate the waters, picking up little submarines(and other various collectibles) and eventually go into a cave. After a small bit of navigating, you’re swept up by an underwater current and rushed about the ocean, schools of fish swarm around you and whales swim along side you until you approach the surface and fly out of the water with you whale friends in tow. It’s moments like those that make Abzû such a beautiful game and the Nintendo Switch does a great job at handling most of them. There are some moments where the frame rate does dip a bit though it only seems to occur in specific moments of the game and the bigger moments are normally spoiled by the frame rate.

The art style is simply phenomenal and the game is filled with gorgeous imagery. From ancient ruins, to vast the sprawling oceans, Abzû is a sight to behold. It’s vibrant colors and serene soundtrack will keep you flowing from one school of fish to another. I find it’s the kind of game I can play after a long stressful day and just relax as laze about the ocean a midst the fish. The little yellow submarine drones do however tend to spoil the scenery a little with their glowing yellow trails. They more often than not get in the way of the game’s scenic moments and ruin what could be really good screenshot and their little yellow trails just feel out of place.

If you enjoy games like Journey then Abzû is a game to consider, especially if you own a Switch and haven’t played it yet. It manages to hit just about every satisfying button Journey did as we trekked through the desert. Despite the fact that the story isn’t quite there and there a few very minor frame rate dips on the Switch version, the freedom of exploration it offers will delight any player just looking for a relaxing game to play while basking in it’s brilliant art direction.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox