Game Review: Abzu

Feels Good But Not Journey
game review
game design

April 19, 2023

Abzu Header Image

From the art director of Journey®, ABZÛ is a beautiful underwater adventure that evokes the dream of diving. Immerse yourself in a vibrant hidden world bursting with color and life as you descend into the heart of the ocean. But beware as you swim deeper as dangers lurk in the depths.

Why Talk About Journey?

I bought this game on a recommendation from a friend of mine. This is because the Art Director - Matt Nava - worked on Journey and I loved that game. This is a selling point for this game for the intended audience: people like me.

Why Not?

So, this game is not Journey. If you have played Journey before then this game will feel very familiar. Because, in fact, it is basically Journey again. This is the game’s strongest and weakest point. Moving around the ocean world learning about what has happened is relaxing and beautiful - as you would expect from the Art Director.

The Dunes Were Better.

One of the reasons this game does not feel the same is that Journey feels mostly empty and the pieces of the world explored fit the metaphor of the desert well. The pieces are little springs of civilization who used to be which rise out of the endless nothing. These all feel good to find in Journey and they are just points of interest in this game. The constant lives of different fish around you dampens the feeling of lonliness which made Journey feel like an experience.

No Partners?

Another alluring part of the experience of Journey is forcing you to play the game with someone you do not know. Along with the vast empty and mostly silent world of Journey, your partner is a strong contrast to the empty, dead world you explore. They’re a life line to escape the feeling of being alone among the ruins and hostile creatures. Abzu has no such feature - and I’m not sure adding it would improve the feeling of the game. There is already too much going on around you as a player and they would likely get lost in the sea.


If you are interested in building a colorful world because you’re an Environmental artist or a fan of Matt’s work then this game is for you. The world really is well done and the mood changes stick as you pass deeper into the darker parts of the world. If you are a fan of Journey then maybe you’ll also enjoy the game more than I did.

I did enjoy playing the game but Journey was better.