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Found 10 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Thatgamecompany, known for their artist-oriented projects like Journey and Flower, teased their next game with a series of tweets yesterday. The studio created a new Twitter account, called @Thatnextgame, and tweeted out a series of three images before confirming that Thatnextgame was the working title of their next project. The images reinforce cloud-like aesthetic and hint at a central theme of passing the torch on to future generations. The first image, a candle leaning over to light another came with the message that the upcoming indie title would be "a game about giving." This sentiment was repeated by Jenova Chen in the brief blog post announcing Thatnextgame. The next two images weren't accompanied by text. The picture to follow the two candles was an image of what can best be described as cloud-children holding hands. They flow together and appear to be skipping or playing. The final image takes a more grounded approach, depicting a mysterious archway with a starburst painted above it - a starburst mirrored in the sky above. Clouds roil above, hinting at where Thatnextgame might take players. A final tweet summed up all three images together and came with the message, "We hope you’ll enjoy @thatnextgame, and in the meantime we’re hiring." Thatnextgame's account describes it as a multiplatform, multiplayer game. Vincent Diamante, the composer who worked on Flower and Skullgirls, will be returning to lend his considerable skills to Thatnextgame's soundtrack. It's great to see Thatgamecompany back with another game. Following the release of Journey it was revealed that the company has bankrupted itself to create the indie game sensation. The future of the company was up in the air until they were able to secure $7 million in investment funds from a Chinese firm. Here is hoping they don't have to bankrupt their company again to finish Thatnextgame. View full article
  4. Thatgamecompany, known for their artist-oriented projects like Journey and Flower, teased their next game with a series of tweets yesterday. The studio created a new Twitter account, called @Thatnextgame, and tweeted out a series of three images before confirming that Thatnextgame was the working title of their next project. The images reinforce cloud-like aesthetic and hint at a central theme of passing the torch on to future generations. The first image, a candle leaning over to light another came with the message that the upcoming indie title would be "a game about giving." This sentiment was repeated by Jenova Chen in the brief blog post announcing Thatnextgame. The next two images weren't accompanied by text. The picture to follow the two candles was an image of what can best be described as cloud-children holding hands. They flow together and appear to be skipping or playing. The final image takes a more grounded approach, depicting a mysterious archway with a starburst painted above it - a starburst mirrored in the sky above. Clouds roil above, hinting at where Thatnextgame might take players. A final tweet summed up all three images together and came with the message, "We hope you’ll enjoy @thatnextgame, and in the meantime we’re hiring." Thatnextgame's account describes it as a multiplatform, multiplayer game. Vincent Diamante, the composer who worked on Flower and Skullgirls, will be returning to lend his considerable skills to Thatnextgame's soundtrack. It's great to see Thatgamecompany back with another game. Following the release of Journey it was revealed that the company has bankrupted itself to create the indie game sensation. The future of the company was up in the air until they were able to secure $7 million in investment funds from a Chinese firm. Here is hoping they don't have to bankrupt their company again to finish Thatnextgame.
  5. While the first attempt at recording Episode 41 might have failed due to technical difficulties, we've returned this week with a brand new and totally original discussion of Flower, the PlayStation 3's 2009 indie darling. While playing as the wind using motion controls might have been a breath of fresh air, has the game become stale over time? What about the prestigious "Best Independent Game Fueled By Dew" award that the Spike Video Game Awards bestowed upon Flower? Has the honor of that accolade dimmed over the past years? More importantly, is Flower 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 music: Shenmue 'Reflections' by Reuben Kee (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01159) 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! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  6. While the first attempt at recording Episode 41 might have failed due to technical difficulties, we've returned this week with a brand new and totally original discussion of Flower, the PlayStation 3's 2009 indie darling. While playing as the wind using motion controls might have been a breath of fresh air, has the game become stale over time? What about the prestigious "Best Independent Game Fueled By Dew" award that the Spike Video Game Awards bestowed upon Flower? Has the honor of that accolade dimmed over the past years? More importantly, is Flower 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 music: Shenmue 'Reflections' by Reuben Kee (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01159) 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! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  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. The 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place on the 27th and Thatgamecompany’s Journey won in every category in which it was nominated, earning itself six GDC Awards, including the prestigious Game of the Year Award. The awards ceremony was hosted by Tim Schafer, founder of the developer Double Fine. Schafer took the opportunity after all the awards were given out to reveal the Kickstarter-backed game, Broken Age, which had previously only been referred to as The Double Fine Adventure. The full GDC Awards results can be seen below, the winners are italicized under each category. Game of the Year Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Innovation Award FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment) ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft) Best Audio Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) Best Debut Fireproof Games (The Room) Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan) Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail) Polytron Corporation (Fez) Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light) Best Downloadable Game Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios) Best Game Design Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment) Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment) Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) The Room (Fireproof Games) Best Narrative Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games) Best Technology Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment) Best Visual Arts Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games) Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Lifetime Achievement Winner Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk Pioneer Award Winner Steve Russell Ambassador Award Winner Chris Melissinos Audience Award Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios) If you are interested in watching the award ceremony for yourself, you can watch the recorded footage over at GameSpot. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to seeing what lies in store from them in the years to come. Maybe we'll be seeing Broken Age at next year's GDC Awards? What do you think?
  9. The 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place on the 27th and Thatgamecompany’s Journey won in every category in which it was nominated, earning itself six GDC Awards, including the prestigious Game of the Year Award. The awards ceremony was hosted by Tim Schafer, founder of the developer Double Fine. Schafer took the opportunity after all the awards were given out to reveal the Kickstarter-backed game, Broken Age, which had previously only been referred to as The Double Fine Adventure. The full GDC Awards results can be seen below, the winners are italicized under each category. Game of the Year Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Innovation Award FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment) ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft) Best Audio Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) Best Debut Fireproof Games (The Room) Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan) Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail) Polytron Corporation (Fez) Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light) Best Downloadable Game Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios) Best Game Design Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment) Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment) Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) The Room (Fireproof Games) Best Narrative Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games) Best Technology Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment) Best Visual Arts Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games) Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Lifetime Achievement Winner Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk Pioneer Award Winner Steve Russell Ambassador Award Winner Chris Melissinos Audience Award Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios) If you are interested in watching the award ceremony for yourself, you can watch the recorded footage over at GameSpot. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to seeing what lies in store from them in the years to come. Maybe we'll be seeing Broken Age at next year's GDC Awards? What do you think? View full article
  10. 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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