Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / ABZ█

Go To
Don't worry, the fish don't bite.

ABZÛ (coming from the cuneiform signs Ab, "ocean", and Zû, "to know", making the title roughly "Ocean of Wisdom") is an independent game from developer Giant Squid and published by 505 Games for the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It is styled like the works of thatgamecompany, which shouldn't surprise anyone, since the art director and composer of Journey (2012) teamed up on this game, too.

You play as a mysterious humanoid being venturing into beautifully rendered regions — in this case, the ocean — while pursuing a narrative which contains no narration and no dialogue, having to piece together the plot via the events and scenery around you.

Swimming around under the water, you occasionally find mysterious statues on which your character can perch to meditate, surveying the wildlife around her. You also occasionally find and activate small robots which follow you, using them to open passages through the coral which has grown over cavern entrances. Each chapter sees you exploring ancient, mosaic-laden ruins of a seemingly primitive, sea-oriented culture, then concludes by seeing you swim into a large, mechanical pyramid which seems to be powered by some advanced, alien technology, but you are left to discover how they relate to one another, assuming there is a relationship.

Compare Endless Ocean, a Nintendo franchise similarly focused on diving amidst lush visuals and a tranquil, relaxing atmosphere.

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: The game features three kinds of collectibles - the meditation statues, the secret pools, and the hidden shells. Each set features its own achievement for finding every one.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Throughout the game the diver encounters mosaics and tiled ruins, as well as the remains of an enormous underwater city, clearly left behind by an ancient civilization. The diver also encounters fragments of highly advanced technology, and at one point enters what appears to be a still functioning automated factory in a state of extreme disrepair. Members of the civilization themselves are nowhere to be found.
  • Alien Sky: At first the world looks normal enough while you're treading water at the surface, but if you look in a certain quadrant of the sky you can spot what appear to be a series of floating rocks that look oddly pyramid shaped...
  • Ambiguous Gender: The diver is quite slender and has no hair, just a colorful helmet, and could easily be male or female. Or neither at all.
    • The developers refer to the diver as a "she" in the dev diary video, though.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Collecting all the Sea Shells and visiting one of the murals that contains them will unlock a light blue suit, which gives you an infinite and stronger boost.
  • Androcles' Lion: A great white shark, who you've been following up to this point, is trapped under some wreckage, and your character frees it. It ends up Taking the Bullet for you in Chapter 5.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Played straight; most of the animals in the game lack any gender specific characteristics whatsoever. Justified, however, since in Real Life the differences are usually very subtle and unlikely to even be noticed by anyone without intimate knowledge of a specific species' anatomy.
  • Awesome Underwater World: One of the main points of the game is to just take in the amazing underwater vistas. The diver's task is to restore and preserve this beauty.
  • Back from the Dead: The great white shark performs a Heroic Sacrifice, but is later resurrected by the player.
  • Beautiful Void: If you didn't know before what a colorful place the ocean could be, you will now.
  • Came Back Strong: The great white is resurrected when you activate the Source and given a massive power up that allows it to rip through the pyramids like tissue paper.
  • Easter Egg: A dinosaur Skeleton can found buried in the sand in the Helicoprion basin.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The great white bursts out from past the wall of a cavern and trashes one of the mini-subs you've acquired. Turns out it's sourced from the same device which created the pyramids. And you.
    • The Robotic Reveal is foreshadowed almost right from the start, from the fact that the protagonist does not seem to need to breathe (she can stay underwater indefinitely but has no visible gills), to her astounding ability to dive into insane depths where the water pressure would crush a human body and back without so much as decompression sickness. Perhaps most telling is the small radar that emits from the diver's head along with an electronic beep when you stray off course, which makes more sense after the reveal.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The diver frequently attracts the interest of any and all wildlife that happens to be nearby, especially when performing acrobatic feats. None of the larger creatures seem to mind letting you swim in tandem with them, either. In the final chapter the diver can amass a giant school of fish that will follow your every move.
  • Frigid Water Is Harmless: The final sequence takes place in the Arctic ocean, complete with drifting ice, penguins and polar bears. The protagonist is not deterred by the temperatures in the slightest, though this is justified as she is actually a humanoid robot with superhuman resilience.
  • Golden Super Mode: Activating the Source not only repairs the damage you took in the previous chapter, but enhances your abilities so that you can swim continuously at bullet speed. The effect also wraps your entire body in a golden light.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There are nautilus shells hidden throughout the chapters, as well as special pools which spawn sea creatures when activated.
  • Graceful in Their Element: The diver is incredibly elegant in her underwater movement, yet when the time comes to climb onto land, all she can do is an awkward duck walk.
  • Guide Dang It!: For the collectible seashells, several of which are extremely well hidden.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The great white saves you from the device, ramming into it to destroy it, and dies of its wounds in the following chapter.
  • Interspecies Friendship: You form one with the great white shark seen throughout the game, after freeing it when it becomes trapped under a pile of wreckage. It outright becomes your companion after you bring it back from the dead.
  • Jumping Fish: Many smaller fish can be seen doing this frequently. The player can also make larger creatures do this while riding on them. There's a hidden achievement for leaping out of the water while riding a blue whale.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Subverted. There aren't actually any of these in the game, but "Kraken" is the name of an achievement you get for riding on a giant squid (the animal that directly inspired the kraken legend).
  • Lost World: In a region of the ocean apparently cut off from the rest of the world, you find a habitat containing extinct species from nearly every time in Earth's history, from Tiktaalik to Ichthyosaurus.
  • Minimalist Cast: It's just you, swimming through a sea full of completely ordinary fish. Though towards the end, you gain a Great White Shark as a companion and ally.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: You eventually find yourself with prehistoric creatures like Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus in Chapter 6, throwing the entire time period of the game into question.
  • No Antagonist: Just you swimming around the deep blue. Whatever left the devices behind appears to be long gone.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Not just the fish but all the animals are realistically designed.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Fakeout:
    • One point early in chapter 4 makes it appear as if a blue whale is about to eat your character - but no, it was just gathering up some fish swimming next to you. Though anyone who is aware of real blue whale biology probably saw this coming, since despite their large size, they're physically incapable of swallowing anything human-sized.
    • Also the great white's presence throughout most of the game. The first time you see it, it comes out of nowhere and takes out one of your mini-subs with one terrifying bite. From that point on, you keep seeing it around in various places, making the player wonder if it's going to attack them eventually. But then you find it trapped under some wreckage and you free it, and from that point on you never feel threatened by it again.
  • One-Word Title: ABZÛ (coming from the cuneiform signs Ab, "ocean", and Zû, "to know", making the title roughly "Ocean of Wisdom").
  • Painful Pointy Pufferfish: Averted. The pufferfish are only ever shown in their normal, non inflated state, and are completely harmless to the player.
  • The Rival: The dynamic between the Great White Shark and the diver is very much like a classic rivalry story, even though there is not much for them to rival each other over. They start off on a bad note, with the shark spitefully destroying one of the diver's companion mini-subs, and then, throughout the game, we see the shark always one step ahead, as if racing the diver to the central core of the Lost Technology polluting the ocean. Then, however, the diver saves the shark from being crushed, revealing no hard feelings whatsoever, and in return, the shark charges the central core, possibly saving the diver at the cost of its own life. Then, in the final level, the shark is resurrected and the rivals finally team up towards their goal, and it's glorious.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Of a sort. After you revive the Great White in the final chapter, the both of you proceed to thoroughly trash some pyramids and bring life back to their regions, culminating in the giant one which initially killed it.
  • Robotic Reveal: You, after being caught in a giant chain-reaction explosion, spend the next chapter with visible artificial limbs and what looks like a power core.
  • Scenery Gorn: Chapter 4. It starts out nice enough, swimming with a pod of whales, but then you get to the ocean floor...
  • Scenery Porn: The whole game is exquisite to sit back and admire.
  • Seasonal Baggage: The first four levels represent the four seasons in the ocean. After that is more connected to the ideas of Life, Death, and Rebirth.
  • Shout-Out: One room in Chapter 3 has a lone clownfish and blue tang swimming together.
  • Shown Their Work: A lot of detail was put into the animals in the game. They even avert Artistic License ľ Paleontology with the various prehistoric animals from the Lost World (Anachronism Stew and Misplaced Wildlife aside). Particularly, the plesiosaurs have fairly rigid necks and Helicoprion has its teeth built like a saw instead of hanging out of its mouth.
  • Sinister Geometry: The pyramids are a decidedly alien/mechanical presence among all the lush vegetation and wildlife.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: You never have to come up for air. Due to being a robot.
  • Tentacled Terror: Completely averted. Just as in real life, octopus are extremely shy and will hide from the player when approached. The various species of squid can be seen predating smaller fish, but are entirely harmless to the player.
  • Threatening Shark: Subverted. The game appears to build up to a confrontation with a Great White Shark, who frequently appears, acts aggressive, and eats one of your helper robots. However, you end up saving it from some wreckage that it's pinned under. It then proceeds to help you, first by ramming the massive device, saving your life at the cost of its own, and then joining forces with you after coming Back from the Dead to destroy the machines once and for all.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: You. Possibly.
  • Under the Sea: Where the majority of the game takes place.
  • Underwater Ruins: Everywhere. The figures on the mosaics bear a striking resemblance to your character.
  • Water Is Air: Most of the time, water is represented realistically with real (present or past) creatures inhabiting it. However, the ancient ruins often contain another layer of water under the water, as pools, fountains and the like.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 5. You find out via a holographic display that your character is based on the same technology as the small submarines and the big mines and that they are likely a creation of a highly destructive, advanced civilization. You get over it, only to later witness the Great White Shark sacrificing itself for you when you meet a gigantic mine.
  • World-Healing Wave: Any time you restore life to a dead region, it blooms forth with kelp and fauna in a manner not unlike Ōkami. The ending implies that with the end of the core piece of the mines, that the whole ocean is now restored.