So, I just bought this for $20 on the PS Store. It will take about 2 to 3 hours to beat, depending on how much you want to explore. Not that it's a bad thing but, It's just copying Journey and putting it underwater. Don't let that stop you from experiencing this game though!
Let me start out by saying: This game is breathtakingly beautiful! Basically, the game consists of you navigating your character through a vast undersea environment, exploring and taking in the sights. You progress by finding the mechanism which will open up the next area. And this could be considered it's weakness: not enough variety concerning gameplay mechanics.
I really think this game could have used the ability to play with a second player. I mean, you even chirp to interact with environmental objects just like in Journey! You can swim faster by holding the X button and even collect hidden shells, not too dissimilar to collecting the hidden glowing symbols in Journey. While you can do a secret boost by pressing the X button three times, it's hard to pull off and I never felt like I was swimming fast enough...While the game might not be so deep from a gameplay standpoint, the game has a vary strong visually appealing design.
A major highlight of the game is: swimming with, through, and inside a school of a THOUSAND fish! Simply awe inspiring! You can also grab onto and ride the various sea life. There are also fast paced sequences in many of the levels where it's kind of on-rails and you are rushing forward through schools upon schools of fish! There is also one magnificent, emotional sequence involving giant whales, which I won't get too much into. You just have to experience it for yourself!
This undersea wonderland wouldn't be as touching without a wondrous soundtrack, now would it? You might be happy to hear the music was done by Austin Wintory , the same composer of Journey. In my opinion, the soundtrack is just as good as Journey's and the game wouldn't be the same without it. That's how serene it is!
Also, like Journey, there is a hidden unspoken story you can piece together. Various murals found in ancient ruins will start to give you some insight regarding the circumstances of the undersea world you are in. Although, I'd say the story is a little bit more vague than Journey's. There aren't any enemies to fight really, except during the end of the game. Without spoiling anything: even then, it's not what you would expect.
In conclusion, if you like Journey you will love Abzu! While the similarities to Journey are more than apparent, the game is stunning and hinges on the surreal. For a few hours I was completely immersed and in awe, of it's undersea majesty! Abzu tries to carbon copy Journey to a point, but is lacking the depth and emotional connection Journey was able to convey. Abzu's greatest strength lies in its: astonishing, organic, aesthetics! It's a game that caters more to the experience and the discovery, not so much ground breaking gameplay. I will say this: Journey is the better game but Abzu is sort of like its handsome cousin that got left in the water for too long, resulting in more than a few wrinkles.