Of All the Games Trailered at E3 2016, 'Abzû' Is the One That Really Sang to Me
<i>Abzû</i>, just look at you. You are beautiful. I want to swim around in you for as long as I can. Because you're a gorgeous game about swimming.
I saw a lot of new video games at E3, last week. So many games, in such little time. Here's a handy round up, albeit omitting a couple of forthcoming triple-A titles that I legitimately cannot tell you about, unless you find me drunk in a south London boozer later when my train home is all screwed up. Then, I'll probably spill the stabby-stabby-murder-sneak-pew-pew-pew beans. Alongside the usual tears.
But a few games got ever so slightly squeezed out of the equation. Appointments were there, prearranged, but they had to be dropped because Other Work got in the way. It happens, and anyone who's ever done E3 will no doubt reassure a newbie to the event, a newbie like me, as this was my first time, that this simply comes with the territory. If you actually caught every game that you wanted to, while in LA, you'd expire through unprecedented exhaustion on the flight home.
(And look, I know it's a total fucking First World problem to complain about being a bit tired after spending five days around sparklingly new video games, but you're not sat where I am, right now. My body simply refuses to acknowledge, days after landing at Heathrow, that I'm living and breathing in BST again. My arse parks itself and that's it, day over man, day over. I can barely type this without stacking my face on the keyboard.)
One game that fell from the schedule is Abzû, and I am utterly gutted by that. Made by a new studio based in Santa Monica, Giant Squid, founded by Matt Nava (who while at thatgamecompany was art director on the ethereal PlayStation exclusives Flower and Journey), Abzû is a diving simulator, I guess. But that's like saying Journey was a walking simulator, which it wasn't. Too much flying involved for that. And there's a lot more than just flapping a couple of flippers to this underwater experience, I'm sure.
Adding to the Journey feel that manifests through the visuals, that air of Abzû being friendly and familiar yet singularly alien, is its score, penned by Austin Wintory. The Colorado-born composer earned a Grammy nomination in 2013 for his Journey OST, and subsequently worked on music for Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Tale of Tales' Sunset, and both The Banner Saga and its sequel. Exactly what the story of Abzû is, I can't yet form a prediction for, but there's some sort of ancient technology down there, in the depths of oceans that appear to be our own.
It's probably best that you just watch the game's most recent trailer, published during E3, and totally the most awesome of any shown across the expo. That's it, just up there, above these words. Just look at it. Listen. It's fucking beautiful.
The most hyped games from E3 tended to fall (again) into the kill-everything category: the new Call of Duty, Battlefield 1, Mafia III, Days Gone, and so on. There were deviations from this might-as-well-be-the-norm, like The Last Guardian and the upcoming Zelda adventure, but to see Abzû sharing space with these mega-budget action titles, even though I didn't physically interact with it (I passed its attractive booth often, and saw many an attendee wearing one of the cardboard diving masks handed out there), was a real heart warmer. This is a beautiful game unlike anything else showcased, one that isn't afraid to wear its precedent on screen, and through the speakers, but is completely confident in its own skin. I can't wait to play it when it comes out for PS4 and Steam on August the 2nd.
And if it proves to be crap – you never know – at least we'll always have that trailer, the most magical to come out of E3 2016, one of just a tiny few that sang to me a crystal message of: buy this day one, you great dolt. And I will. (But don't pre-order. Never pre-order. Pre-ordering is for mugs, and you're no mug.)