Few games let you pause, sit silently while surrounded by sunfish and seaweed, and meditate.
You couldn't do that in Uncharted, you certainly wouldn't expect it in Call of Duty. But in Abzu, the first game from Matt Nava, art director on Journey and Flower, it feels like an essential addition to an absolutely essential game.
Abzu is a meditation on the ocean and everything that lives in it, and from the moment you take charge of a scuba diver and start flipping through the water, you'll be struck by its spectacular beauty.
As you swoop and soar your way through the game, bubbles float slowly to the surface, fish swim in schools past you, and stingrays sweep across the ocean floor. Like one of those fish tank screensavers you had on your old PC,
is a mesmerising, dreamlike experience that's hard to leave during its two-hour duration.
Be warned: it's one that will almost certainly make you want to upgrade your television.
You can spend hours exploring every nook and cranny of Abzu, searching caverns and ruins and checking every piece of seaweed to discover its hidden secrets. You can also snaffle a shark fin and tag along for the ride. Or you can sit, meditate and become one with the sea.
To progress, however, there are puzzles to solve, and although they're simple, this sci-fi aquarium has sinister undertones. The further you get in the game, the darker it gets, mixing Egyptian mythology with space-age technology and environmental themes.
By the time you get to
ambiguous ending, you'll be tracing through your memory banks trying to make links that may or may not be there. You'll instantly want to hit the restart button.
But it's Abzu's smaller moments, like freeing anglerfish from a trapdoor, or grabbing hold of a whale shark's fin and holding on for your life, that really resonate.
Abzu's dreamlike state isn't for everyone, and it isn't quite as clever, and doesn't run quite as deeply, as Journey. But this is still a spiritual experience that makes sleeping with the fishes seem like a good thing.
A beautiful swim with the fishes