Thoughts on: 3 Stories from the Sea

[Russian version] 

This time, I’ll be talking about 3 games that are somehow connected to seas or oceans. More specifically: Song of the Deep, The Sea Will Claim Everything and ABZÛ.

Starting with Song of the Deep, because it was a huge disappointment that I decided not to finish. It’s an action adventure exploration game, metroidvania, in other words, that takes place underwater. And if you think Aquaria, then yes, the comparison is pretty close. Especially in a way that shows how Aquaria is better in pretty much everything in does, except for the looks.

Song of the Deep could be a good title if it wasn’t clearly a «hey, let’s make a downloadable-only budget game while other teams work on AAA important things» project that lacks any kind of drive and desire to be more than that. And if what it did was actually good. And yet, it isn’t. It forces lots of combat on you, but it’s boring and not fun. It has puzzles, but most of them are very easy and some rely on random physics behavior so much it’s impossible to be calm. And all of them are not about fun solutions, but rather about doing something as a chore. And it could have a cutesy story about a brave young girl, if it wasn’t narrated by one single boring voice that narrates the most pointless of things.But it does look good, yeah.

Abzu, Song of the Deep, The sea will claim everything, review, обзорAbzu, Song of the Deep, The sea will claim everything, review, обзорAbzu, Song of the Deep, The sea will claim everything, review, обзор

Let’s get to something pleasant, though. The Sea Will Claim Everything is charming, weird and amazing. Written by the same person who would later write The Talos Principle, it’s full of strange well written monologues and dialogues that feature humor, philosophy, serious issues, story building and pop references in surprisingly smart dozes. It does require you to calm down, slowly read everything and enjoy your time with the game (even if it is possible to just randomly click through it, if you want, and ruin the experience).

It’s a quirky first person per-screen point and click adventure game with strangely drawn style and interface that is more interactive in helpful and weird (mostly weird) ways. Most things just do funny noises, but some can actually help with puzzles. It’s a strange thing that reminded me a bit of The Neverhood in how serious, yet not very serious it is. And it’s definitely worth a try, whenever you can give a text-heavy adventure game 5 hours or less.

And ABZÛ… Wow, what a game that is… It’s one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had in gaming ever. Just watch the video. If you like what you see immediately, stop the video and get the game so not to spoil some of the magic. I tried to show as little as possible while showing the magic, but it’s so amazing to experience it for yourself.

What is the game about? Well, it’s a beautiful adventure under the ocean made by the new team of the creative director of Journey (which I’m still yet to play). So, it isn’t really surprising their new game is a beautiful adventure as well. It’s not challenging, of course, more playful and fun, with simple, yet meaningful interactions and a lot of simple wonder. It’s also quite short, being about 3 condensed hours of magic. Definitely worth checking.

P.S. And yes, the title is a bit of a reference to one particularly good music record.