Giant Squid is a game company co-founded by the art director for the indie sweetheart game Journey. So when you talk about their first game ABZÛ you’re going to end up with a lot of comparisons. Not all of those comparisons are completely undeserved. Both games are relaxing, atmospheric adventures through a strange but beautiful environment. In Journey that’s the desert, while in ABZÛ it’s the ocean. One of the big differences in these environments, ignoring the obvious, is how much life there is in ABZÛ’s ocean. Schools upon schools of fish. All different varieties. They form a complete ecosystem, with many of the bigger fish eating the smaller ones.
As a programmer, I found this fascinating to watch. The AI concepts used to make fish flock together is relatively simple in the grand scheme of things. However, the scale of which it’s done in ABZÛ is impressive on its own merit. Those who know me know I often argue that a simple concept, well polished will be better than a complex concept done roughly. I usually say this in regards to visual or mechanical choices in a game. Seeing an idea I rally for so often being applied to my chosen field was wonderful.
On the down side, for a game based completely in the ocean, ABZÛ fails at the same thing every other game fails at. Swimming doesn’t feel good. Don’t get me wrong. It feels infinitely better than in most games, but I have my doubts that any game will ever make swimming feel right. Despite this, ABZÛ is a great game. It’s chill and interesting. Just don’t go in expecting it to be another Journey. ABZÛ deserve more than to be constantly compared to its stepbrother.