ABZÛ (to give it its stylised title, and spare a thought for the poor SEO team on this one) is a slow, thoughtful indie adventure – but you probably clocked then when you saw the circumflex over the U. I know, I know, when it comes to indie games you always rock up for the diacritics, but with Abzu you’ll stay because this deep sea adventure grabs you with the immediate intrigue of peeling back the inevitable mystery of rejuvenating these waters.
Under the guise of an unnamed diver you take to unknown territory, and to go into much more detail would verge into spoiler territory – suffice to say, the underwater edifices, statues and hieroglyphics tell most of the tale. Still, much of Abzu is what you make of it, not least because the narrative leaves plenty of room for personal interpretation, and while it initially presents itself as a journey of open waters you find yourself swimming along a prescribed route.
This is mostly evident as you play, with each level following a similar structure, tugging you to what is, essentially, another big door. This is a mechanically simple game, but a pleasurable one – all you can really need to do is swim, swirling and lapping around in wide circles, charging ahead with each kick of your flippers and occasionally interacting with the world with chimes of your sonar. I generally spent about five minutes each level just practicing my loops, so there’s definitely time to muck about within its sombre presentation, though Abzu’s camera tends to fight you a bit, and your character generally struggles with precise movements. This is no real bother, mind, as it all sits nicely with that lingering feeling of being the outsider in somebody else’s world.