The Hidden Message of ABZU (ABZU Story Breakdown)


ABZU is the story of the oceans, and the journey of finding out where we belong in the natural world. The premise of ABZU may seem simple, but the game is actually filled with a good bit of fascinating lore. This is my take on the world of ABZU, and why I believe the game is all about conveying a very specific message.

Shout-outs to Reddit user /u/rabizbit for helping inspire me to make this video.

If you want to see my theories on other games be sure to check out the channel, and I'll provide some short cuts here!

Firewatch's Brutal Ending

The Science of SEUM:
378 комментариев
All Might
nah man aliens invaded and built red stuff then the terminator stopped them with the help of Jaws
Andrew Gorra
my favorite moment was when you first see the blue whales
My husband is a chaebol heir.
My theory: You are the last person of Atlantis & the Illuminati destroyed everything so it's your duty to restore.
Chomp
The Inverse Pyramids are also in the sky, I've seen it on someones playthrough. You could see a big chained inversed Pyramid high in the sky
FSAPO
I played through the game in one sitting, and my mind was a combination of empty yet scattered at the same time. My emotions were blank and I didn't know how to act in the real world. After going through such a masterfully crafted, moving game, the real world just seemed so dull in comparison.
Pam Millie
Loved your interpretation of the story. I agree with you. I'd also like to add my thoughts.

The first time the protagonist interacts with one of the drones, it has a red light and scans the protagonist. That is the only time the protagonist is scanned which leads me to think that the drones communicate with other drones and the pyramid core. After the scanning is complete, the drone acts "friendly" and leads the protagonist into trust, as do all others. The drones are also collected at the end of zones, and the protagonist is not permitted to enter the collection port. It seems like the protagonist is self aware. I tend to think that the pyramid core is also. The drones help the protagonist progress closer towards the pyramid core; if it is self aware, in communication with the drones, and collecting and harboring power, it seems like its intention is to eliminate any competition for power and control. I'd also like to think that when the protagonist discovers broken droids and other tech, it was the great white's doing. The creature is always ahead of the protagonist. It attacked one of the droids in front of the protagonist. This attack also came from below where broken cores, ruins, and an ecosystem spawn sit in the darkness. Though that could have just been a representation of actual great white behavior despite this particular shark repeated being shown to act differently than the other wildlife. Due to the communication between drones and the pyramid core, the drones were instructed to gain the trust of the protagonist so that when that attack happens in front of the protagonist, space and distrust is created. This strengthens the pyramid core's standing by weakening the connection of the protagonist and the great white. Picking off every mindless piece of technology that isn't helping the ocean reflects the desperate situation.
Felype Rennan
Abzû is the best possible execution for the "Journey 2" I've always wanted to play.
Gui Porto
Another important detail: there is a set of ancient tables called the "Enuma Elis" which are the basis of the Babylonian myth. According to them, Abzu is the god of fresh waters , while Tiamat is the goddess of the oceans. Their marriage originated all other gods and living beings. I don't know to what extent that plays a part in the game's concept, but the text set to music in the game's epilogue is taken directly from the "Enuma Elis" (as per the ending credits).
NIKMOE
I know the video is on the quiet side, it has to do with how the clip was rendered, apologies! The next one will blow your ears off, you have my word.
John Tight
I agree with most of your theory. Let me give you all my theory from the eyes of a marine biologist. In one of the paintings on the wall in the broken down ruins is displayed the humanoids almost worshiping a Great White shark, and marine life in general. The White shark is the apex predator of the ocean, its the head honcho, the best hunter known to man. But not only is it the top predator, it's one of the ocean's millions, even trillions, of species that help protect the ocean and vicariously protecting us. For human life to survive, we need Sharks and whales and every little specimen of plankton in the ocean to not only survive but to thrive. In the world today that's not happening, mankind is all but obliterating the ocean ecosystems with acts like; Shark fining, long line fishing, culls, oil spills and over fishing. But back to my theory, I believe that in this game, we play the part of an Ocean Guardian. Mankind (or whatever those humanoids were in the paintings) was wiped out by who/whatever made those pyramids (humans in a sense). I think we, the guardian, were a kind of fail-safe in case things went south, and we were programmed to activate when some kind of substantial oceanic change was somehow felt thus finding us randomly floating in the ocean.
So tl;dr- We're a type of ecosystem fail-safe protection robot that's programmed to fix what mankind did.
#SharkLivesMatter
SWNerd97
not trying to ask this to get a laugh but did anyone else get a little mermaid type vibe while playing?
TheBlackSpiral
I think there's also an element of artificial intelligence grown beyond it's bounds to this game. With the doors following your movements and the core desperately trying to protect itself, it didn't strike me as impossible that it too is to blame for the current state of the world.
Water Bottle
I cried when spoiler alert the shark died
Holdiniful
Now THIS is what I call quality content. Very well explained and a very good observation as to the meaning of the game at the end of the video. What's crazy is as impressed as I am with your explanation there are still so many unanswered questions. Where are these humanoid creatures? Surely they couldn't have ALL died, right? Why are you alone? Were you the only robot of that nature created? Why are you seemingly sentient? Is the scene toward the end of the your journey where you destroy the mine-esque machines in the tranquil waters creating life with the shark an illusion or real? And if it is an illusion how is that possible if you're a robot? There are way too many rabbit holes but you get the idea. Love how open to interpretation this all is and again love this video. Keep doing what you're doing Nik Moe!
Kayll88
I always took the story to be about an ancient civilization that respected and worked with a natural power source that gave life to all things but the pyramids are actually an alien technology and not a creation of the original species. The Pyramids stole the energy source thus wiping out the natural life and ancient civilization and used it to power its creations, including you but for whatever reason (possibly the life giving energy inside you) you became aware and possibly malfunctioned which is why you are floating in the middle of nowhere and you decide to rebel. This explains why the shark was hostile or at least evasive to you in the first place. Each to their own theories though I guess :)
Old Mate
I've played the game 4 time. IT'S SO GOOD.
Genericon
You are Zu; you are called to know. Along your journey, you will meet Ab, who is water, the ocean. Together you shall face Tiamat, who is Chaos, the mother, and from her lifeless form, you shall be created as the gods in the midst of heaven.
Sanity Agathion
Good analysis on the story from paintings. But I think there is some other aspect to journey progressing through the game. It did not occur to me at first, but upon reaching temple section after first inverted pyramid showdown - you release Helicoprion from one of those pools. What's was so weird about that? That creature had extinct 250 million years ago! You go back in time. It's like a trip to museum. Starting with more recent species - you even meet your first land animals while walking on foot in first room, they crawled out of water around 240 million years ago. I thought the game would end with some kind of protozoan life :-)

Very interesting detail. Life comes from the ocean, after all. I see it as a nice tribute to evolution, and maybe - just maybe - hinting at the theory of life being brought by ancient alien race?
MrLucidLJ
Incredible video really enjoyed your insight
Andy Reiner
The story of ABZU is actually us in current time. The unlimited powerful resource in the ocean is OIL! We human needs oil in every inch of our life, foods, fuel, factory, all needs oil. But our greed to harvest oil in the ocean causes a huge impact to the ocean itself. the triangle robot there represents the machine that we use to harvest oil. We all know the fact that how much oil that left and spread in the ocean and cause the dead of thousands of fishes and coral. This game give us message to help ocean and protect them. Love our ocean like we love our life. PS: Pardon my english, Im not native .p
Mansur Al Mutawa
In the credits it said the text was from the Enûma Eliš, the Babylonian creation myth.
BlueKyuubi64
Interesting theory. My take is that the Harvesters are aliens since you can see them in the sky early on in the game. The Harvesters built a robot to look similar to the ancient civilization in order to gain their trust. Then the Harvesters stole the energy from the ocean and began to mine other places in the ocean. It destroyed the city and forced the civilization to move away or something similar. Rather than the Harvesters killing the them; the people instead evolved to live on land (just like their amphibious ancestors before them). This theory is backed by the small room you find in Chp.6 which depicts a member of the ancient civilization alongside birds, a creature of the land. Meanwhile the Harvesters continuing mining the ocean's energy and destroying the temples which housed the ocean's guardians (worshiped as gods by the civilization). Leaving only one guardian left, the Great White. With the power of the ocean inside you, the Diver revives the temples and brings back the fallen guardians.
Scott Steven Erickson
I just finished the game, and this video helped me make more sense of it. Like Journey, I just reveled in the beauty while playing, even though I didn't fully understand what was going on. This made me appreciate it even more though! Do you have a similar video for Journey?
Sweetfly Rachel
I seriously LOVE Abzu.
Snippydur
i think that the civilization must have been advanced and respected the ocean and the shark as their sacred guardian but then as they are starting to evolve they start to make more advanced stuff but then the pyramid must have malfunctioned and killed the civilization while sending the protagonist far away as a last chance of restoring the ocean with its capability of having the ocean's power in it. then when the little drones are found they might be telling the core where you are so the core can supply more drones to "help the protagonist" and the shark destroys the drone might be symbolizing that the shark is aware that the drone is evil and that the protagonist is the ocean's last hope. and once each drone is destroyed the core prepares mines to stop the protagonist and the shark. but when the shark tries to destroy the core might point out that the shark might be sentient.
zerox
How do you not have more subs? Your videos are great dude, keep them up
Luna Ress
You forgot one detail, whenever you surface in the game and look in the sky (especially when the game first starts) you can see the harvesters in the sky, like I space of just floating there.
Reverse Hollow
When i saw Sir David Attenboroughs' name in the end credits, it made sense.
Our oceans need our care if we want to continue to be astounded by them.
RainbowDawn Yang
I got a BIG feeling that Journey and Abzû took place in the same universe :3
Veronika Špundová
When you Are in the gold biome And you look at the sky there Are that three piramids

(btw I am not from USA or england so my english IS bad xc)
OST Industries
Yes, this video has been the foundation of my recent theory. Have you noticed that towards the final swim into the huge precursor pod, the unique mountain of Journey can be seen? I've analysed a picture of the mountain and it has the unique crack that leads to the imense source of power. I think that Journey, Abzu and Sky (upcoming release) are linked. Both Journey and Abzu share nearly identical themes. Greed. Sky could be connected due to the huge precursor pod seen hovering in the sky at the very start of Abzu. Perhaps the remains of the civilisation fled to the stars? All we can do is speculate.
Dontae Crumes
This was a great review/explanation, well done!
HdE's Totally Unoriginal Gaming Show
Absolutely top flight analysis! I finished Abzu literally an hour ago. What a fantastic experience!
Sw!n
Bruh journey was so sick back in the day like just finding random I really need to pick up this game
Caleb S
Great vid!! :D subbing! Would you make a video of Journey too? :D
MAxAMILLIoN
5:50 "... we see a giant inverted pe-



pyramid."
DjimonMoz
The only thing that makes me have any doubts about your theory is that when you go to the surface and look up to the sky, you'll see a bunch of those reverse pyramids flying in orbit.
I always thought that the pyramids were alien and that the (player) robots were fashioned after the local civilization in order to take the 'lifestream' from them. I dunno.
mohd noh hussin
just finished this. thanks for the explanation!
Outrida
Very well explained, I must say. I really love how the game subtly tells you the story and I absolutely agree with your interpretation. I've felt very happy when I finished the game for the first time today. Awesome game!
Anal Flounder
Insightful video, I can easily see your channel growing immensely in the future. Subscribed.
Hectornos Monstierr
I tought we were some kind of robot that was sent in a planet to study some acient form of energy with the help of smaller robots '-'
Damien O'Brien
My theory: It's about how Global warming flooded out a civilization but the Aliens (maybe us) were protecting the ocean life by storing them in these portals, but we as a protagonist are re discovering this technology and previous life. But also teaches up to appreciate life.
Jojo Vs Art
I rly like your voice ! :D
Veya Draws
I like this, and also think that many other thoughts are here:

We can discover ourselves and answer our questions by observing our world.

Always be open to ideas that challenge your notions (the shark isn’t the villain). Always be watching.

You can only get by giving.

You are not defined or controlled by your heritage. You are yourself, and you make your own choices and decisions, regardless of what you are or how you were born.

Also, a kind of symbolic idea, what if you represent Tiamat, chaos (you are born of a race that destroyed life) and the shark represents Abzu. As in the myth, only by working together do you bring back balance and life.
Also, I think the people less foresaw the destruction of the temples, but caused it out of greed, shattering them and replacing them with their pyramids. I also got the impression that the first guy who looked like us created all of the pyramids and bots and us, and maybe led an uprising against the others.
TheCasualGamer
3:19

"Why?" Because there is literally no other way to go, that's why. Maybe if the player could've actually chosen to follow the shark it could've worked as a metaphor for the character's burdening sense of wonder. But when we first encounter the shark it is in a linear tunnel with no other way to go. It would've worked better if the player first encountered the shark in a large open ended area so they would have to choose to follow the shark. Even if they didn't at first, they would still eventually have to choose to follow the shark because it would lead the player out the exit to the area. But it would still feel like a choice, because they could still keep exploring the environment if they wanted.
《 N E M 》
I had a rough idea of the message in this amazing game, but you helped so much to clear it up and reveal the backstory. The game is so enjoyable, and thanks.
Hua Sheng Tang
That is deep, man. I could never, ever, have thought of ABZU like this myself. Ever.
HisCountriGal17
Beautifully explained, I adore this game🤗
Paul Regan
I think the red core shows we all have some darkness inside us but we can still choose not to follow it
Caleb Zimmer
this was very well made. i enjoyed every second of this video. thank you
shardul kharkande
Loved the narration, almost felt like listening to an amazing audiobook! Good job!!
Rouge Serenity
I finished the game today and I cried when the shark died ;-;
Jonathan Mortensen
really nice POV on this. I loved this game and your interpretation of the story is, imo, correct and will be the storyline I will personally subscribe to.
TheInspirationalMind
Fantastic video man! I just played through it and had a hard time understanding the story. It's a lot deeper than I thought!
Parikshit Singh Phagura
Very well explained. In fact the best explanation I could find on youtube.
You definitely deserve more more subscribers.
Good Job, keep it up mate 👍
JHogan8327
Brilliant, thanks for making this video! I very much enjoyed the insight.
psychecl
i remember getting zapped by my first triangle and screeching
Rebecca Laidlaw
I’ve played this game several times and there are little things like the jars that I totally missed!! I agree with the main theme that you discussed. I love playing this game over and over again especially with my little ones because they love watching all the fish and we kind of tell our own story as we go. Great video!!
Charlotte Fitzpatrick
This sounds exactly the same as journey but in the ocean. Brilliant.
Eduardo Navarro
Amazing! Earned my sub.
Jake Night
Remember me when you make it to a million subscribers
HeoZ D
Wow... I just subbed. Haven't finished the video yet but I'm loving your narrative. So simple yet exquisite. Keep up the great work..!!!!
Navah Weiss
This is really beautiful. Thanks for uploading!
Third Floor Studios
Great video! Good observations, I think that the story is fairly straight forward just purely visual. subbed!

Oh, have you played Inside? It's another phenomenal visual narrative game.
Nathaniel Brewster
This is a great game and I would definitely recommend it
ProfWild
Really interesting video! Thanks for that explanation, i accord to your theory cause it's similar to what i understood when i've made the game the first time ;)
救えるだなんて思わないで
I see you put loads of effort into your videos, you earned yourself a new sub.
Sophia Nasiopoulos
Thanks so much. I watched Abzu on Stacy's channel and I didn't know what was going on. Now I understand. :)
Mr.BenchWormer
this game was amazing
DavidtheWavid
I'm ashamed. I was too caught up trying to get achievements to pay attention to the cave drawings.
Silvercat75
I await your oxenfree videos :D god I love these!
Stories for Games
I recently finished the game myself and I think your analysis in spot on. It actually helped me fill in the gaps with regards to things I missed while playing the game, so many thanks for that. A lot of your observations make perfect sense and I agree that ABZU is very much a cautionary tale with a strong environmental message.
TheLaughinAssassin
This was an amazing game!
Michal Khalashnikovf
Good quality videos. Will be watching you (in a good way :P )!
FilterHat
I played Abzu and the ending gave me goosebumps.
ryan lowe
Great explanation. I at first, thought they were aliens that crash landed in the sea. :-p
reeft
Keep making videos, man. Great stuff on the channel!
Lone Lunatic
that all makes sense.. keep up the good work dude
Daniel DeWitt
Great video! I enjoyed your interpretation of the game and it resonated with mine as well I love games like this with seemingly minimal plot that ends up being surprisingly deep if you look for it.
Third Floor Studios
lol just saw your Inside video, guess I should have checked! :P
jusTeasing
I really love this theory, and it's totally got me thinking about my own theories, and my theories on it's "Sister" game, Journey.
Do you think you could do a theory video on that, too? Or, maybe something a little more interesting, and try a mixed theory? As in, the two games are intertwined?? I'd love to see that, actually. A video on both of them as one story. What do you think?
Yasmin Yasmin
I just finished this game and it was AMAZING
Marlon Dunn
Absolutely love what you did there. I have something to add...research ABZU in the context of the ancient Sumerians story of ENKI and what abzu meant to them.
AnimeDevotee
Subscribed!
Very Helpful Your Voice Makes Me Relaxed For Some Reason??!?
DmitriSochlioukov
Just stumbled upon your channel, good stuff mate, enjoyed the vids, you definately deserve more views and subs! keep up the good work :)
Wafflez _192
I just finished playing 5he game it was AMAZING. Realy made me feel calm and wanna stay there as long as i could, just like you said. The music and beauty made me sad but happy at the same time even though nothing sad was happening at the moment, i even cried a few times. It's my new favorite game. I wanna buy journey too, i love these types of games. I just need some more money
Kirk Vista
Ok Give it a few years and I think you will have a million or millions of subscribers. Keep it up with the good videos man I believe in you
Tom Schirf
I really liked this video as well as your one on firewatch. Could you please do Journey as well?
Nicholas Miller
Excellent examination of the evidence. I feel satisfied with your version of Abzu's story! Thanks and keep making the great content!!!
Blue Bear
My easy to explain theory : u were diving and ur crew forgot you since you fell asleep
Bruh Bbbruuh
thank you for your interpretation and I loved the video
rita dogg
I bet the protagonist fell from the sky from the floating islands that can be seen at different points in the game
Tarbon Walker
I think I enjoyed this more than the game, huge ups dude! new sub for sure
Noah Smith
Great video, thank you for breaking it down. I had many of the same ideas in mind, and that there was some social criticism involved towards our society. I just could not put it it together as eloquently. This helped iron it all out for me.
MegalomaniacalMegalodon
I really wanted to see another interpretation of the game, and thanks now I have! I have a huge background with the ocean and video games, and honestly, Abzu killed my dreams of ever making a dream game since it is better than anything I could have made.

As an ocean geek, I had a bit of a different initial feeling but reach the same conclusions about the story. See, I would LOVE to follow a Great White, the concept of worshiping an apex predator that manages an ecosystem is very natural to me. I had my doubts about the little robot "allies" after the first use of one to break apart the coral. I felt like this is the kind of artistic game where all mechanics have a symbolic purpose and meaning, and I thought, for a nature theme, destroying your way through felt strange so I felt like the little bot had what was coming for him with the shark.

Essentially my experience with the story amounted to more of an immediate wariness of the true nature of the protagonist and a more immediate love for the shark.
Silent_ Undertakin
The shark by far was my greatest friend in the game
DOTZERZOR
Great theory very concise and good research into the game, keep up the great work!
Jimmy Roberts
Hi Nik, love your videos.. would you be able to do a video on journey? I know most people understand the story, but would be interesting to know your thoughts :)
cellowify
You have the perfect voice and pace to make videos of games like ABZU and Inside. Love your videos, keep it up please
PierreLazarevic
I agree and think same ! Well done for the explanation :)