Get dazzled by the watery depths of Abzû

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Abzû (Windows, PlayStation 4) BY GIANT SQUID Abzû is the next game by Matt Nava, who was previously the art director at thatgamecompany, most notably on Journey (2012). Nava and team trade desert sands for oceans and the many creatures that populate them in Abzû. It all started with a dreamy vision of scuba diving, and has since flowed into an underwater journey full of orchestrated highs and lows, of unknown depths and dangers, where you learn to admire and respect the fish all around you.…

Milano Game Festival

The Milano Games Festival aims for thoughtful discussion around videogames

A big part of playing videogames is doing so collaboratively. We like to talk about and share our experiences. Before now, arcades were the place to go for this, where you could gather around arcade cabinets, watching your peers smashing high-scores and giving commentary as you wait for your chance to play. But now it’s mostly online, with livestreaming services letting thousands of people gather around a single game-playing session, all shouting into the chat. Seizing on this kind of behavior—albeit hoping to foster more thoughtful discussion—and coming hot on the heels of film festivals like Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto, is…

Abzu WhaleShark

Don’t hesitate to dive into Abzû

When I try to picture what the ocean depths must have looked like near England’s Jurassic Coast, 300 million years ago, I picture something like Van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889). I picture a space of stillness but also turbulent life, things moving ceaselessly in the restless dark; I picture everything swirling, vortices upon vortices. What I picture undoubtedly derives from my encounters with what seems to have been the region’s primary resident: the ammonite, a snail-like prehistoric shellfish with a shell in the shape of a swirl. Ammonites were everywhere in this place. If you look hard enough, you can…


The dream behind Abzû’s alluring underwater world

The “dream” of scuba diving is separated by the actual, body-in-water act by one significant detail: there is no equipment. To scuba dive, you must submerge with a wetsuit, mask, flippers, then there’s the air cylinder, compass, line cutter, and dive light. There’s more too and it all bears down upon you; a heavy baggage of artificial stand-ins for fish parts and safety measures that account for inevitable human error. Matt Nava wants away with it all. He wants to swim nakedly under the sea—bold and free. Drowning not included. Nava has been scuba diving since high school. He described it…


Dive into ABZÛ’s beautiful ocean world on August 2nd

ABZÛ has pinks, it has blues, it has greens, it has oranges. It has whales, jellyfish, angler fish, and dolphins. And all of it is going to flourish on your PlayStation 4 or PC on August 2nd. I can’t frickin’ wait.  This is a game especially for those who, like me, have a penchant for underwater levels in platformers. Ignore the terribly annoying ones in Crash Bandicoot 2 (1997) and focus on the musical joy and liquid flow of supreme underwater levels like Rayman‘s “Sea of Serendipity.” ABZÛ seems to have crystallized those levels and then melted them into a large and…


As beautiful as ABZÛ is it does not forget the deep terrors of the ocean

If you have a child, do not take them on vacation to the cold Cornwall coasts. It is a place of terror. Dark rugged waves that foam at the mouth aggressively pound steep rocks to a deafening chorus. On the wet sand lies the receding tide’s victims: purple blobs of dead jellyfish, scattered like alien fertilizer. One of them stung my cousin’s thigh in the water. I remember watching as she screamed with pain while the venom swelled like brambles in her vessels. She was rushed to a doctor soon after.  the beauty of all the underwater traffic.  When younger, the ocean…