Video Games Weekly: Abzu
The video game Journey, which I talked about at length here, is one of my favorite video games at all time. The same creator recently came out with a new video game called Abzu, which I pre-ordered because I loved Journey so much. Although it’s not the same experience as Journey, I think many parents and librarians who are looking for video games that are rated E or T will be pleased to have Abzu as an option.
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Single or Multiplayer: Single
Storyline: There isn’t really a storyline in Abzu. The best way I can describe the game is it is structured to be more like an experience instead of a story. Your character is a diver, and you spend the entire game exploring the depths of the beautiful ocean. That’s it. There aren’t any enemies, no goals, no time limits, you just swim about as you wish until you get bored. Similar to Journey, you can discover a small narrative about the world’s history by examining hieroglyphics on walls, but they are vague enough for you to interpret them in a multitude of ways.
You’re probably wondering why gamers bother playing Abzu if you just wander around in a virtual world with little to do. First, Abzu is a stunning work of art, but only if you are playing on a newer TV. I just moved to an apartment that came with an older TV from the early 2000s, and the difference in graphics alone is enough to make or break the gamer’s experience. I first tried out Abzu on the old TV, and I was bored after playing for about 10 minutes because the artwork looked clunky and unimaginative. Then, when I tried it out on my 1080p Smart TV, I was stunned at the difference. So, if you are going to give Abzu a chance, please be sure to play it on a TV that can produce high quality graphics!
The other reason Abzu is intriguing is because in a world of Call of Duty and other high stimuli games, it’s nice to be able to kick back and play a relaxing game. The game did an excellent job on developing the artwork and musical score, and it feels similar to meditating. Being able to divert my attention to something beautiful and relaxing is something that I find myself needing every time I read the news…and your patrons might be looking for the same thing!
Gameplay: The controls are basic, although there are some secret controls that the game doesn’t tell you about. Here’s the link to an article that goes into more detail.
Audience: This game is tricky because it will probably not be appealing to large audiences. One reason why I purchased it is I have had many parents complain to me that the XBox One doesn’t have rated E or T games for their kids. This may not be the most stimulating game, but at least it’s an option I can give to these parents. I also wanted to have at least one example of a video game as a piece of artwork in my collection, even if I know it will not circulate well.
Verdict: I recommend taking a look at how much Journey has circulated, and think about if patrons want/could benefit from a relaxation game. If the answer is yes, buy a copy, but don’t purchase it for more than $20. I don’t recommend this game for Teen Game Night programs because it’s a single player game and a little too chill for a program.
Pricing: $20 on Amazon
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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