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Found 12 results

  1. In 2014, Stoic Games released their Kickstarter indie darling The Banner Saga to massive success. Hailed as "The Oregon Trail, but with fighting and a Norse apocalypse," The Banner Saga went on to generate a sequel as well as a third installment that recently found success on Kickstarter. The high-stakes, turn-based RPG took players on a journey through a hand-painted world full of mystery and intrigue, where it felt like one wrong move could unravel tenuous alliances or get people killed. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: Paladin's Quest 'Sleep, Beloved Child' by Archangel (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03557) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  2. In 2014, Stoic Games released their Kickstarter indie darling The Banner Saga to massive success. Hailed as "The Oregon Trail, but with fighting and a Norse apocalypse," The Banner Saga went on to generate a sequel as well as a third installment that recently found success on Kickstarter. The high-stakes, turn-based RPG took players on a journey through a hand-painted world full of mystery and intrigue, where it felt like one wrong move could unravel tenuous alliances or get people killed. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: Paladin's Quest 'Sleep, Beloved Child' by Archangel (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03557) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  3. Thatgamecompany had a deal with Sony in the late 2000s. The studio, founded by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, would make three games for the PlayStation 3's fledgling PSN service. The deal began with a remake of Chen's Flash title Flow which was then followed by Flower. The final part of Thatgamecompany's Sony trilogy was known as Journey and stands as perhaps the most well known art-house game on the planet. The title garnered a staggering number of awards for its visuals, unique, emotional gameplay, and player interaction, even earning the coveted game of the year spot from numerous publications. Austin Wintory's soundtrack catapulted the game into the mainstream consciousness as the only video game soundtrack ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Though it released five years ago and the game industry has covered a lot of ground since 2012, we now look back and ask: Is Journey one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro: Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal 'Journey's End' by pu_freak (http://missingno.ocremix.org/music.html) And while you're listening to our closing track this week, why not head over to check out Austin Wintory's discography? We promise you won't be disappointed! You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  4. Thatgamecompany had a deal with Sony in the late 2000s. The studio, founded by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, would make three games for the PlayStation 3's fledgling PSN service. The deal began with a remake of Chen's Flash title Flow which was then followed by Flower. The final part of Thatgamecompany's Sony trilogy was known as Journey and stands as perhaps the most well known art-house game on the planet. The title garnered a staggering number of awards for its visuals, unique, emotional gameplay, and player interaction, even earning the coveted game of the year spot from numerous publications. Austin Wintory's soundtrack catapulted the game into the mainstream consciousness as the only video game soundtrack ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Though it released five years ago and the game industry has covered a lot of ground since 2012, we now look back and ask: Is Journey one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro: Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal 'Journey's End' by pu_freak (http://missingno.ocremix.org/music.html) And while you're listening to our closing track this week, why not head over to check out Austin Wintory's discography? We promise you won't be disappointed! You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  5. Stoic Games, the team of ex-BioWare developers who crafted 2014's The Banner Saga, have returned to Kickstarter to fund the final installment in their turn-based tactical trilogy. The original Banner Saga was initially funded via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 that raised a whopping $700,000 - seven times more than the original goal of $100,000. That surplus of funds allowed Stoic to push the initial game much farther than they had originally envisioned and also develop the sequel, Banner Saga 2. It might seem odd that Stoic has returned to crowdfund their third game, but the studio has an answer for those scratching their heads. "We’re still solidly indie," says the studio, "[We're] not accepting any investor funding, so Kickstarter is still a great way to rally the community to show support for the game, while letting us call the shots on the games we make. We’re paying for most of the game ourselves, but the funds we’re asking for will enable us to take the time we need and bring the band back together one more time!" Stoic seeks to raise $200,000 for The Banner Saga. Given the success of the first campaign and how praise enjoyed by the previous two Banner Saga games, it is likely that the campaign will exceed $200,000 easily. Over $100,000 had been raised less than 24 hours after launching its campaign. No stretch goals have been announced yet. The Banner Saga 3 will see a number of the contributors that helped bring the previous games alive. Austin Wintory, one of the best composers working in games today, will be lending his talent to the series once again. The animation studio responsible for the trilogy's breathtaking hand-drawn aesthetic, Powerhouse Animation, will supposedly return as well. Stoic has also tapped into Icelandic vocal recording outfit Studio Syrland to capture the essence of the Norse-Viking vibe that The Banner Saga taps into. The Banner Saga series focuses on a story about the end of the world from the perspective of those who live in it. It's a tale of survival against a hostile world full of environmental dangers and the unsavory attentions of predatory enemies. Obscure occult powers, monstrous creatures, and dead gods litter a world which trembles and cracks at their passing. Tough decisions await players as they guild a growing (or shrinking) band of survivors through the perils of a dying planet in an almost Oregon Trail-like fashion. Those choices can change the fate of who lives and dies on the long journey to what will hopefully be safety. Life or death struggles over supplies might break out among the survivors or villainous forces could attack, the player must always e ready to step up and fight. A brutal, unique take on turn-based combat makes up the meat of the Banner Saga series. Equal parts Fire Emblem and XCOM, players must use the unique abilities of their companions to fend off death for just one or two more days. Always one or two more days. Those who back The Banner Saga 3 will have the option of purchasing both The Banner Saga 1 and 2 for $20 on top of their original pledge once the campaign closes. View full article
  6. Stoic Games, the team of ex-BioWare developers who crafted 2014's The Banner Saga, have returned to Kickstarter to fund the final installment in their turn-based tactical trilogy. The original Banner Saga was initially funded via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 that raised a whopping $700,000 - seven times more than the original goal of $100,000. That surplus of funds allowed Stoic to push the initial game much farther than they had originally envisioned and also develop the sequel, Banner Saga 2. It might seem odd that Stoic has returned to crowdfund their third game, but the studio has an answer for those scratching their heads. "We’re still solidly indie," says the studio, "[We're] not accepting any investor funding, so Kickstarter is still a great way to rally the community to show support for the game, while letting us call the shots on the games we make. We’re paying for most of the game ourselves, but the funds we’re asking for will enable us to take the time we need and bring the band back together one more time!" Stoic seeks to raise $200,000 for The Banner Saga. Given the success of the first campaign and how praise enjoyed by the previous two Banner Saga games, it is likely that the campaign will exceed $200,000 easily. Over $100,000 had been raised less than 24 hours after launching its campaign. No stretch goals have been announced yet. The Banner Saga 3 will see a number of the contributors that helped bring the previous games alive. Austin Wintory, one of the best composers working in games today, will be lending his talent to the series once again. The animation studio responsible for the trilogy's breathtaking hand-drawn aesthetic, Powerhouse Animation, will supposedly return as well. Stoic has also tapped into Icelandic vocal recording outfit Studio Syrland to capture the essence of the Norse-Viking vibe that The Banner Saga taps into. The Banner Saga series focuses on a story about the end of the world from the perspective of those who live in it. It's a tale of survival against a hostile world full of environmental dangers and the unsavory attentions of predatory enemies. Obscure occult powers, monstrous creatures, and dead gods litter a world which trembles and cracks at their passing. Tough decisions await players as they guild a growing (or shrinking) band of survivors through the perils of a dying planet in an almost Oregon Trail-like fashion. Those choices can change the fate of who lives and dies on the long journey to what will hopefully be safety. Life or death struggles over supplies might break out among the survivors or villainous forces could attack, the player must always e ready to step up and fight. A brutal, unique take on turn-based combat makes up the meat of the Banner Saga series. Equal parts Fire Emblem and XCOM, players must use the unique abilities of their companions to fend off death for just one or two more days. Always one or two more days. Those who back The Banner Saga 3 will have the option of purchasing both The Banner Saga 1 and 2 for $20 on top of their original pledge once the campaign closes.
  7. Daniel Jones

    Review: Abzû

    With 2012’s Journey, thatgamecompany succeeded in creating a type of interactive tome, replete with all the self-reflective ambiguity of an abstract painting. Debates over video games as art notwithstanding, Journey could hardly be described as anything but. While it wove an astoundingly rich visual tapestry, the surprisingly effusive weight of its anonymous multiplayer carried the brunt of its artistic meaning. So it’s impressive that developer Giant Squid—founded by Journey’s Art Director, Matt Nava—has created a game in Abzû that not only sparkles with aesthetic brilliance, but also finds its own voice as an emotionally driven work of artistic expression. The fact that it occasionally feels slight in the shadow of Journey’s monolithic legacy is something I struggle to hold against it, especially when the overall experience feels so singularly divine. Abzû’s wordless story begins in a serene corner of its ocean setting, as your avatar, a wet-suit-clad scuba diver awakes on the surface. Subtle visual cues and camera tricks help to guide you along your trek through underwater caverns, dense kelp forests, and even some less organic structures that I dare not detail further. Along the way, you’ll interact with all manner of sea life from the smallest clownfish to blue whales the size of a naval submarine. It’s in the interaction with these creatures that Abzû sets itself apart from any game I’ve played before. Each of the game’s environments is its own mini ecosystem, teeming with aquatic inhabitants that interact with each other and the player in fascinating and believable ways. Sharks will chomp on smaller fish, dolphins flip and twirl in their pods, and giant squid spray ink when you come near. These interactions are rarely scripted, often relying on your input to trigger, such as enticing a massive humpback whale to breach the surface or hitching a ride with a turtle. Finding new ways to play around with Abzû’s wildlife proves fun and engaging, while nicely complimenting the game’s naturalistic themes. Just as playful is the game’s soundtrack from Austin Wintory, whose work composing Journey earned him a Grammy nomination. The lively strings, twinkling harps, and celestial choir simply sound exactly like Abzû looks. Wintory’s scores have an exquisite knack for capturing the essence of a game’s visuals and themes, and his work on Abzû is no exception. This inimitable, ever-present music ties into the gameplay and adapts appropriately to your actions, making it as vital a part of the experience as the vibrant visuals and the smooth controls. As you might expect from the art director behind Journey, Abzû’s visuals inspire awe, a true sight to behold. Each area exhibits a distinct color palette with what can almost be described as a bouquet of marine wildlife. Seeing thousands of fish all animated on screen at once is jaw dropping more so for its audacious beauty than its technological achievement. Abzû has much in common with thatgamecompany’s earlier title, Flower, as you spread life through the world, making each new area more vibrant and lively than it was when you first waded into its waters. This is more than just pretty visuals at thirty frames per second; it’s emotion through gameplay and gameplay through art. Abzû’s ocean is not all smooth sailing, however, as a few questionable design decisions muddy the otherwise clear waters. Each area has a few hidden shells that you can collect, much like the scarf pieces from Journey. But whereas those pieces granted your avatar with a longer jump and eventually—if you were able to find them all—a white robe with an infinitely regenerating scarf, Abzû grants the player no such rewards, besides a gold trophy. A sense of progression would have served Abzû well, and would’ve made the already enjoyable movement even more gratifying. Though it may seem unfair to hold Abzû to the standards set by its predecessor, the corollary couldn’t be more apt. Make no mistake about it, this game—though not designed by Journey mastermind Jenova Chen—is a clear successor to that modern classic. Though the visual stylings and game design present a unique twist on the sub-genre, the level structure and pacing are lifted almost wholesale from Journey. As someone who has played through that game more times than I can count, I often found myself predicting what would happen next. Though the beats are familiar, each new area still kept me engaged as the game floated towards its conclusion. It’s just disappointing that Giant Squid chose to stick so vehemently to a previously established formula for a game that otherwise presents wonders I had never experienced before. That statement’s not completely true actually; I do have some experience with the grandeur of our planet’s oceans. I have been snorkeling on a few occasions, off the coast of Maui and Hawaii, and though it was over a decade ago, the adventure has hardly faded from my memory. Never have I been so humbled by nature as when I found myself surrounded by all manner of sea creatures, from turtles to barracudas to massive manta rays that dwarfed my six foot frame. This is the type of feeling Abzû so deftly replicates; that of a stranger in a strange land, discovering wonders your eyes weren’t meant to see. I never expected a game to make me want to don the flippers and goggles again, but that’s exactly what Abzû has accomplished. Despite that, Abzû isn’t a scuba simulator, and it never attempts to be. You don’t need to manage oxygen levels, or worry about depth pressure, or fear any of the predators that lurk in the deep. While the fish are all modeled after real species in both design and behavior, this is a stylized version of underwater ecosystems, not a perfect replication. So in place of realism, Abzû fosters a wondrous sense of respect for the species that exist in our oceans, and it’s all the better for it. Conclusion: After my second playthrough, I still haven’t uncovered all of Abzû’s marvels, and I can’t stop thinking about my next dive in its magical world of color and life. I want to unlock all of the fish species, collect all of the mollusk shells scattered in the hidden corners of the world, and I want to find every last meditation statue. Mainly, though, I look forward to revisiting Abzû anytime I just need a break from the noise and bustle of human life on the surface of this Earth. The flaws that keep Abzû from being an unequivocal masterpiece are of little import when fully submerged in the adventure’s calming beauty and spectral wonder. Abzû was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is now available on PS4 and PC
  8. Austin Wintory, the composer of the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanied 2012's Journey, and the Fifth House Ensemble are teaming up to bring a live performance of the thatgamecompany's PS3 title to venues across the United States. The shows will be performed alongside a live, full playthrough of Journey on stage. Sony has specifically created a soundtrackless version of Journey for these performances. Wintory has teamed up with Patrick O'Malley to create a new arrangement for the Fifth House Ensemble that will include bite-sized music pieces triggered by the live player's actions. The new arrangement will include new instruments not included in the game's original soundtrack. The project asked for $5,000 to make the tour a reality. In under 24 hours the Kickstarter managed to raise over $12,000. Players on stage will be selected at competitions held prior to the performances. The first competition will be held in Chicago by the Killer Queen Mercury Squad. Future competitions will be posted as updates to the Kickstarter page. Tour dates February 20, 2016 - MAGFest, National Harbor MD February 28, 2016 - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago IL April 9, 2016 - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton FL April 16, 2016 - University of Illinois - Springfield, Springfield IL
  9. Austin Wintory, the composer of the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanied 2012's Journey, and the Fifth House Ensemble are teaming up to bring a live performance of the thatgamecompany's PS3 title to venues across the United States. The shows will be performed alongside a live, full playthrough of Journey on stage. Sony has specifically created a soundtrackless version of Journey for these performances. Wintory has teamed up with Patrick O'Malley to create a new arrangement for the Fifth House Ensemble that will include bite-sized music pieces triggered by the live player's actions. The new arrangement will include new instruments not included in the game's original soundtrack. The project asked for $5,000 to make the tour a reality. In under 24 hours the Kickstarter managed to raise over $12,000. Players on stage will be selected at competitions held prior to the performances. The first competition will be held in Chicago by the Killer Queen Mercury Squad. Future competitions will be posted as updates to the Kickstarter page. Tour dates February 20, 2016 - MAGFest, National Harbor MD February 28, 2016 - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago IL April 9, 2016 - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton FL April 16, 2016 - University of Illinois - Springfield, Springfield IL View full article
  10. The composer of flOw, Soul Fjord, and Journey is facing a $50,000 fine from the American Federation of Musicians for going against its 2012 video game recording contract and pursuing work in the video game industry. The new contract was put in place without approval or input from any of the 90,000 union members. Since 2012, no video game developer or publisher has accepted the terms asked by the AFM. Austin Wintory has long been outspoken in his opposition to this agreement. When the new contract was adopted, Wintory was in the middle of his work on the kickstarted PC game The Banner Saga. Rather than dropping everything in the middle of The Banner Saga's development, Wintory continued to work on the project. Days before The Banner Saga's release, he received a letter that brought him up on charges for working on the game despite the new contract. "This contract has created an untenable situation," says Wintory, "because of course composers and artists and musicians have needed to continue to earn a living. And earn a living, no less, in an industry that we love to work in and feel grateful to be a part of, but we've had to do it, therefore, without union sanction for almost two years. [...] The union has failed to produce an agreement that the developers or publishers of this or any other game have been willing to sign." "Unfortunately employers have not signed the current agreement," admits AFM Local 47 Vice President John Acosta who represents the recording musicians of Los Angeles, "and the limited work we were doing before has all but vanished into non-union land." And now that Wintory has both been pursuing work in his field and been speaking out against the union, there has been a target painted on his back to make him an example. He has lawyered up to see what he can do about the hefty fine and in response some threatening comments made by the president of the AFM. "I am willing to risk the consequences of speaking up because ultimately I don't actually think this is about me," states Wintory, "This is about what's right. This is about composers and musicians being able to work in a medium that we love without fear of threats and intimidation." As far as what anyone can do to show their support for Wintory, all he asks is that if you feel compelled, share his video or leave a comment.
  11. The composer of flOw, Soul Fjord, and Journey is facing a $50,000 fine from the American Federation of Musicians for going against its 2012 video game recording contract and pursuing work in the video game industry. The new contract was put in place without approval or input from any of the 90,000 union members. Since 2012, no video game developer or publisher has accepted the terms asked by the AFM. Austin Wintory has long been outspoken in his opposition to this agreement. When the new contract was adopted, Wintory was in the middle of his work on the kickstarted PC game The Banner Saga. Rather than dropping everything in the middle of The Banner Saga's development, Wintory continued to work on the project. Days before The Banner Saga's release, he received a letter that brought him up on charges for working on the game despite the new contract. "This contract has created an untenable situation," says Wintory, "because of course composers and artists and musicians have needed to continue to earn a living. And earn a living, no less, in an industry that we love to work in and feel grateful to be a part of, but we've had to do it, therefore, without union sanction for almost two years. [...] The union has failed to produce an agreement that the developers or publishers of this or any other game have been willing to sign." "Unfortunately employers have not signed the current agreement," admits AFM Local 47 Vice President John Acosta who represents the recording musicians of Los Angeles, "and the limited work we were doing before has all but vanished into non-union land." And now that Wintory has both been pursuing work in his field and been speaking out against the union, there has been a target painted on his back to make him an example. He has lawyered up to see what he can do about the hefty fine and in response some threatening comments made by the president of the AFM. "I am willing to risk the consequences of speaking up because ultimately I don't actually think this is about me," states Wintory, "This is about what's right. This is about composers and musicians being able to work in a medium that we love without fear of threats and intimidation." As far as what anyone can do to show their support for Wintory, all he asks is that if you feel compelled, share his video or leave a comment. View full article
  12. With 2012’s Journey, thatgamecompany succeeded in creating a type of interactive tome, replete with all the self-reflective ambiguity of an abstract painting. Debates over video games as art notwithstanding, Journey could hardly be described as anything but. While it wove an astoundingly rich visual tapestry, the surprisingly effusive weight of its anonymous multiplayer carried the brunt of its artistic meaning. So it’s impressive that developer Giant Squid—founded by Journey’s Art Director, Matt Nava—has created a game in Abzû that not only sparkles with aesthetic brilliance, but also finds its own voice as an emotionally driven work of artistic expression. The fact that it occasionally feels slight in the shadow of Journey’s monolithic legacy is something I struggle to hold against it, especially when the overall experience feels so singularly divine. Abzû’s wordless story begins in a serene corner of its ocean setting, as your avatar, a wet-suit-clad scuba diver awakes on the surface. Subtle visual cues and camera tricks help to guide you along your trek through underwater caverns, dense kelp forests, and even some less organic structures that I dare not detail further. Along the way, you’ll interact with all manner of sea life from the smallest clownfish to blue whales the size of a naval submarine. It’s in the interaction with these creatures that Abzû sets itself apart from any game I’ve played before. Each of the game’s environments is its own mini ecosystem, teeming with aquatic inhabitants that interact with each other and the player in fascinating and believable ways. Sharks will chomp on smaller fish, dolphins flip and twirl in their pods, and giant squid spray ink when you come near. These interactions are rarely scripted, often relying on your input to trigger, such as enticing a massive humpback whale to breach the surface or hitching a ride with a turtle. Finding new ways to play around with Abzû’s wildlife proves fun and engaging, while nicely complimenting the game’s naturalistic themes. Just as playful is the game’s soundtrack from Austin Wintory, whose work composing Journey earned him a Grammy nomination. The lively strings, twinkling harps, and celestial choir simply sound exactly like Abzû looks. Wintory’s scores have an exquisite knack for capturing the essence of a game’s visuals and themes, and his work on Abzû is no exception. This inimitable, ever-present music ties into the gameplay and adapts appropriately to your actions, making it as vital a part of the experience as the vibrant visuals and the smooth controls. As you might expect from the art director behind Journey, Abzû’s visuals inspire awe, a true sight to behold. Each area exhibits a distinct color palette with what can almost be described as a bouquet of marine wildlife. Seeing thousands of fish all animated on screen at once is jaw dropping more so for its audacious beauty than its technological achievement. Abzû has much in common with thatgamecompany’s earlier title, Flower, as you spread life through the world, making each new area more vibrant and lively than it was when you first waded into its waters. This is more than just pretty visuals at thirty frames per second; it’s emotion through gameplay and gameplay through art. Abzû’s ocean is not all smooth sailing, however, as a few questionable design decisions muddy the otherwise clear waters. Each area has a few hidden shells that you can collect, much like the scarf pieces from Journey. But whereas those pieces granted your avatar with a longer jump and eventually—if you were able to find them all—a white robe with an infinitely regenerating scarf, Abzû grants the player no such rewards, besides a gold trophy. A sense of progression would have served Abzû well, and would’ve made the already enjoyable movement even more gratifying. Though it may seem unfair to hold Abzû to the standards set by its predecessor, the corollary couldn’t be more apt. Make no mistake about it, this game—though not designed by Journey mastermind Jenova Chen—is a clear successor to that modern classic. Though the visual stylings and game design present a unique twist on the sub-genre, the level structure and pacing are lifted almost wholesale from Journey. As someone who has played through that game more times than I can count, I often found myself predicting what would happen next. Though the beats are familiar, each new area still kept me engaged as the game floated towards its conclusion. It’s just disappointing that Giant Squid chose to stick so vehemently to a previously established formula for a game that otherwise presents wonders I had never experienced before. That statement’s not completely true actually; I do have some experience with the grandeur of our planet’s oceans. I have been snorkeling on a few occasions, off the coast of Maui and Hawaii, and though it was over a decade ago, the adventure has hardly faded from my memory. Never have I been so humbled by nature as when I found myself surrounded by all manner of sea creatures, from turtles to barracudas to massive manta rays that dwarfed my six foot frame. This is the type of feeling Abzû so deftly replicates; that of a stranger in a strange land, discovering wonders your eyes weren’t meant to see. I never expected a game to make me want to don the flippers and goggles again, but that’s exactly what Abzû has accomplished. Despite that, Abzû isn’t a scuba simulator, and it never attempts to be. You don’t need to manage oxygen levels, or worry about depth pressure, or fear any of the predators that lurk in the deep. While the fish are all modeled after real species in both design and behavior, this is a stylized version of underwater ecosystems, not a perfect replication. So in place of realism, Abzû fosters a wondrous sense of respect for the species that exist in our oceans, and it’s all the better for it. Conclusion: After my second playthrough, I still haven’t uncovered all of Abzû’s marvels, and I can’t stop thinking about my next dive in its magical world of color and life. I want to unlock all of the fish species, collect all of the mollusk shells scattered in the hidden corners of the world, and I want to find every last meditation statue. Mainly, though, I look forward to revisiting Abzû anytime I just need a break from the noise and bustle of human life on the surface of this Earth. The flaws that keep Abzû from being an unequivocal masterpiece are of little import when fully submerged in the adventure’s calming beauty and spectral wonder. Abzû was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is now available on PS4 and PC View full article
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