ABZU: A Musicologist’s View


ABZU is a short indie title developed by Giant Squid Studios. The music is composed by Austin Wintory and you might hear some similarities between itself and the PS3 title Journey. Wintory’s compositions are usually stylised, with his preference in using an orchestra with an increase of brass and woodwind that you would see in regular orchestras. Wintory particularly uses Cello, Viola, and Oboe in his recurring melodies that set the theme for the game.

The soundtrack sees mostly the use of drones passed between instrumentation depending on the area of the game this, paired with added reverb, causes the game to sound submerged, signifying the underwater theme. Speaking of signifiers, the soundtrack is flexible, with slower tempos and fewer instruments when the player has time to explore and area, which quickly build up in instrumentation and tempo when the player moves between areas of the game. The instrumentation here is playful, with contrapuntal melodies and a clever use of dissonance moving in parallel to signify the different types of aquatic creatures the player comes into contact with.

All in all, ABZU is something special in both its gameplay and soundtrack. The controls and the supporting themes allow for the game to feel very much like the player is underwater, and in quite a magical environment.


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