Into The Sea: An ABZÛ Gallery

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I know, you’re all off exploring the stars, but please don’t neglect the seas. ABZÛ [official site] is the most beautiful sight I’ve seen on my screen this year. I know it has its irritations – particularly, the controls leave my sense of tranquility battered and bruised – but nonetheless its explosion of undersea life and air of casual exploration pleases me enormously. I felt I should share some of the sights I saw with you.

Warning: includes visual spoilers for the events and escalation of ABZÛ. While there is a story, it’s purely visually-told, so anything you see gives everything away. Even putting that aside, much of the joy is in the sights ABZÛ provides, and if you haven’t played it yet and plan too soon, I’d stop after the first few screenshots. Conversely, the first few screens might just inspire you to pick up the game when you otherwise had not planned to. I’ll leave an obvious note under the image before spoilers start, fear not.

These do not chronicle the entire game, just selected extracts from the main portion of it. Please note also that some of these screens have not come out quite as beautifully as I’d hoped, because fuck motion blur.

For the record, these were captured at 3440×1440 then downscaled to 620×260. I cannot tell you how incredible it looks at that full res on a 34″ ultrawide, but sadly I cannot entirely show you. Hopefully this is a useful taste, though.

Hit the arrows above or below the image above to browse the gallery, or use the arrow keys on your very own keyboard.

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24 Comments

  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    I love the colour palettes in this game.
    As an artist, I have to admit that I squaled in delight many times playing this, just because of the color combinations.
    “Light blue rocks and pink seaweed this LOOKS SO GOOD WHY DIDNT I THINK OF THAT HNGNGH”

  2. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    I have one question, however :

    “Err, what do you do in it ?”

    Just kidding, my real question is :

    Is it possible at all to play it without a controller, as I have seen it was strongly recommanded and I don’t have one ?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, it is (all these were taken when playing using keyboard and mouse so I could press the screenshot key easily). Movement is easier on pad though.

    • Urthman says:

      I find that you can play almost any controller-centric game with mouse and keyboard if you are willing to experiment with keybindings until you have all the relevant actions comfortably under your fingertips. Being able to freely control the camera often more than makes up for loss of analog motion control. You’ll need something like AutoHotKey for games that don’t support rebinding keys.

      ABZÛ is a little trickier than some games because the direction your character swims is much less tied to the camera orientation than most third-person games.

      Really the only hard exception I’ve found is a beautiful little indie game called PaperPlane which relies on very fine use of the analog triggers on a controller.

      (People who like ABZÛ should definitely check out PaperPlane – a meditative, non-violent exploration game with a rewarding bit of a learning curve as you learn to steer a paper airplane to prolong each flight as far as possible. It’s a significantly bigger game than it might appear at first.)

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        alison says:

        Can you redefine keys in ABZÛ? I play via In-Home Streaming, so I doubt AutoHotKey would be a workaround for me.

        Personally I don’t mind a bit of awkwardness due to WASD missing aftertouch/pressure sensitivity, but if you literally can’t navigate certain obstacles without switching controls to mouse=movement (vs mouse=camera) I will probably skip this one. A good example for me is ETS2. Steering is bollocks on WASD, but the game is slow enough that it doesn’t really matter.

        I wonder if anyone’s made a pressure sensitive keyboard… I’m not hung up on WASD, but I find controllers extremely uncomfortable because you need to hold them in mid air instead of lay them flat on the table.

        • Urthman says:

          ABZÛ doesn’t have options to rebind the keys, but has options to invert controls for both the camera and for movement. (I’m not sure why In-Home Streaming would prevent you from using AutoHotKey, though.)

          But if you’re comfortable with a typical WASD setup, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble playing the game with M+K. I tried both ways and while I ended up slightly preferring the controller, I was able to play a significant chunk of the game using M+K with no real difficulty.

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            alison says:

            Excellent, this is exactly the info i needed. Looking forward to this one a lot.

            Regarding AHK, come to think of it, it probably would work if I ran it on the client. I guess it would just add to the confusion. I already get messed up now when my host is on German keyboard layout and my client on US International. Good times.

          • Urthman says:

            I always add this line to all my AutoHotKey scripts

            Pause::Suspend

            Which allows you to toggle the script on and off with the Pause/Break key on your keyboard so you don’t have to deal with a re-mapped keyboard except when you’re in the game.

      • thelastpointer says:

        Holy shit goddammit you’re a genius! It never crossed my mind that I could use AutoHotKey to redefine keys in all those stupid, old games…! Thanks man! You just changed my life :)

  3. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    Thanks Alec, I was on the fence but that solves it.

    Added to my wishlist, the game really looks beautiful (but I still prefer the vistas from the other game you can’t speak of, to be honest)

  4. Yachmenev says:

    It looks tempting, but as long as it’s sold with Denuvo, I will resist.

    • SooSiaal says:

      Why exactly? Is denuvo the new steam?

      • Yachmenev says:

        No Denuvo is an anti piracy system, without any value for the end customers, that’s added to your purchase, with as little word as possible from the devs and publishers, and gives, through online depencies at regular intervals, the relatively unknown Denuvo company and their rented amazon servers authority over your purchased single player experiences.

    • parallax1 says:

      Screenshots looks awesome, thanks for sharing.

      Denuvo requires a first-time online activation, and binds itself to your hardware configuration (much like a Windows key does for instance). There’s a lot of myths about it killing your SSD, but they are all false.

      Other than the online activation, it’s non-invasive. But you see many nerds complain that they won’t “buy game X” because it has Denuvo on Steam forums. But really, they are just typical “entitled” brats.

      • Yachmenev says:

        Am I one of those entitled brats?

        • parallax1 says:

          Probably not Yachmenev :) – I just see a huge amount of replies about Denuvo on Steam, I just get fed up with all the complaining. There have been so many differeny DRMs over the years, Securom and Starforce are probably the ones I remember the most.

          That being said, it’s likely that people have played one game or another with Denuvo without realizing it.

          link to en.wikipedia.org

          • Yachmenev says:

            I think most people don’t notice it. I have played both MGSV (through Steam family share) and Dragon Age: Inquisition (bought on sale) without seeing any practical effect of it, other then that the loading times in DA:I were weirdly long.

            I don’t subscribe the ideas that it hits performance or damages SSD drives. My stance against Denuvo is that we’re giving away the keys to the future of PC gaming to an unknown third party, without thinking twice about it. It’s a matter of principle and freedom for me, and

            Denuvo also means that we won’t get GOG releases of the game using it, since a DRM free version of the game would render Denuvo useless.

            For me, including Denuvo in their titles is limiting the freedom of our rights with our purchases even further, limiting our options of where to purchase (no GOG), and when the devs of Abzu and Inside include it while pretending it’s raining, then I’m put off from giving their my money.

            It bothers me that no gaming sites will even discuss that it’s happening.

  5. klops says:

    I don’t care about spiders or jumpscares or other many people fear (in computer games) but this is pure horror. Those orange areas in the first 8 pictures are tolerable. Then when the whales and open water and sharks and deep blue come along my heart rate starts to go up very fast. Too much, too scary!

    • Distec says:

      It’s been funny seeing people describe Abzu as this beautiful and serene experience.

      To me, it looks like a fucking nightmare simulator.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I too have the deep sea fear. It was very toe-curly at times, especially one time where I could see the shadows of some whales somewhere very deep below and I was like “I’ll go and say hi!”, but my brain nearly shut down as I plunged into the infinite darkness… It’s absolutely sublime though, and all the more beautiful for the awe-bordering-on-terror.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I suffer from thalassaphobia as well, but I’m usually aware enough of my surroundings for it not to kick in when I play deep-sea games. There are exceptions though – those giant whale things in Subnautica always get my heart pumping, even though they’re completely docile and harmless.

      Abzu isn’t really triggering it for me, though. It might be because still images don’t convey the immensity of the ocean or your relative helplessness very well. It could also be because of the graphical style, which (to me) looks outdated.

      What does trigger it, though, are those fucking digital death maps they have on planes that show you just how screwed you’ll be if your plane goes down. I hate seeing that I’m a million miles from anywhere with nothing but black emptiness and krakens beneath me. I mean, why, airlines!? As if travelling wasn’t stressful enough.

  6. Sarracenae says:

    As a diver i thoroughly enjoyed Abzu, it really was a very relaxing experience (not sure it’s a game though).

    Swimming into the bait ball was sublime and really gave you the sense of what it must be like to be in there, at bit like a BBC documentary.

    The music is also amazing, something which i very seldom get excited about in games, and usually turn off.

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    UncleBAZINGA says:

    This game is a piece of art. Have a look on my screenshots if you like to: link to steamcommunity.com

  8. tomek says:

    Would love to play this on the Rift.

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