A mobile Zelda clone that has made it to the big screen.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas, from Cornfox & Bros., is an altogether familiar experience. It is an action adventure game that takes its influence quite clearly from Nintendo’s Zelda games, most specifically Wind Waker. There is no problem with that, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all, and there is no denying that the world could use more Zelda-type games. But for a game that so obviously copies another to be truly remarkable, it has to offer something that the original did not.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas managed that in its original form. The action adventure was launched on iOS devices, offering mobile gamers a wonderfully polished console experience. The game looks incredible on iOS, plays really well despite the touchscreen controls, and gave mobile gamers who may never have owned a Nintendo console a chance to enjoy something very close to one of Link’s adventures.
It didn’t take long for the developers to make the jump with Oceanhorn to the home consoles. Landing on the Xbox One and PS4, with a PC release earlier in the year, Oceanhorn is now offering a Zelda-like experience on more platforms that Nintendo avoid. The game may not be as unique on the consoles as it was on iOS, console players have had a good selection of high quality action adventure games over the years, but there is still a lot here to enjoy.
The story follows a young lad who is seemingly abandoned one night by his father. This is no tale of parental neglect however, as the father has set off to destroy a mighty beast known as Oceanhorn. The young lad awakens to find his father gone and, after reading a note and chatting with the local hermit, decides to try and save his father and destroy Oceanhorn.
Players are quickly introduced to the basics of the game, which are pretty easy to grasp even for players who haven’t indulged in this titles inspiration. The world is made up of islands dotted around the ocean, and the player will guide their around these block created islands fighting monsters, talking to other characters, exploring dungeons and finding all of the stuff they will need to complete their quest.
The isometric viewpoint makes movement easy. The islands are created with a certain amount of verticality, and players will find themselves often having to work out how to reach some areas. Often times, players will have to drop down from a higher ledge, although the game actively prevents the player from dropping off cliffs or areas where they will do themselves damage. A certain amount of pushing objects to activate switches, create a new path, or simply to open a route, can be found in the game.
Armed with a sword and shield, at least to begin with, out hero can dispatch most of the nonthreatening monsters with a simple swipe. More involved creatures may require blocking with the shield to begin with, before going in for the kill. The combat in Oceanhorn is pretty simple, which I think is due to the iOS roots and the more tricky touchscreen controls. In a pretty traditional manner, players can also pick up jars and smash them, and swipe their swords at bushes to find hidden items.
There are a handful of dungeons in the game to work through. The dungeons in the game are not too tricky, as the puzzles follow a familiar formula. The player will find new items on their adventure, such as bombs or a bow, which generally offer solutions to previously unpassable puzzles.
As the player explores islands, they will be able to chat with the various friendly inhabitants. Through these conversations, and other ways, new islands will be identified and and player will be able to take to their little boat and plot a course between the islands. The traveling from one island to the next is all automatic, so the player doesn’t have to worry about getting lost. To give the player something to do while they are sailing, a cannon can be used to fight against sea monsters or break floating boxes and gather their contents.
For the most part, Oceanhorn is a good looking game. It feels nicely polished, and is as bright and colourful as it was on iOS. However, the relative lack of detail that comes from Oceanhorn’s mobile roots does shine through at times, especially in the cut scenes. From an audio point of view, the soundtrack is absolutely mesmerizing, easily one of the highlights of the game.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas works brilliantly on iOS devices. When it comes to the Xbox One however, this nine or so hour action adventure does show slightly more flaws. The game feels too simple and lacks the detail required for the big screen. It is also an unashamed clone of the Zelda games, but I can’t hold that against it. Oceanhorn may not quite reach the heights of excellence found in the Zelda games, but it is available to a wider audience than Nintendo’s games. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is well worth picking up for some enjoyable light action adventure on non-Nintendo platforms.