Set sail for adventure with a highly capable Zelda clone!
A year or so ago, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas brought its Zelda-like exploration, combat, and structure to iOS devices. Now, Oceanhorn gets a second life with a console release on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While its inspiration is crystal clear, Oceanhorn does enough to make it stand out and be a worthy game all on its own, even if it might come across as nothing but a pale imitation of a certain action-adventure franchise from Nintendo that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Oceanhorn begins with a message from your father. You soon wake up on an isolated island and talk to the hermit living there. With information in tow, you are sent to a nearby cavern to acquire your father's sword and shield to then cast off on an adventure to not only find his father's whereabouts but also to restore the land of Arcadia to its former glory. Then, there's that legendary monster known as Oceanhorn to trifle with...
Right away when you begin journeying through the initial Hermit's Island location in Oceanhorn, you will no doubt find a lot of familiarity between this game and The Legend of Zelda series. While Oceanhorn plays in an isometric view rather than an overhead top-down one, everything else is quite similar to Nintendo's long-running, action-adventure franchise. From chucking and breaking pots to see what goodies lie inside to slashing bushes with your hero's sword, the inspiration from Zelda in Oceanhorn is obvious.
The world of Oceanhorn is made up of various islands. Starting off, the number of islands available to you is quite limited. However, as you speak with NPCs and even come across washed ashore bottles with messages in them, new islands will reveal themselves on the world map for you to venture to. There are over a dozen islands total, and a handful of them aren't even necessary to beat the game, though they do offer some interesting discoveries.
|When not saving the land, our hero can get some rest at the local town.|
|Thankfully, traveling between islands is relatively quick in Oceanhorn.|
|A spin attack? Now, where have I seen that before...?|
Caverns and dungeons are commonplace in Oceanhorn, and they, too, have much in common with the series the game was inspired by. Common are monsters that infest these areas, but there are also plenty of puzzles to solve, a majority of them revolve around moving blocks to specific places. These are either to unlock a door or to arrange the blocks in a way that you can cross them like a bridge. Like modern Zelda games, Oceanhorn's dungeons house keys that unlock specific doors as well as possessing a Master Key, used to reveal the way to the dungeon's boss as well as to open up the chest where the dungeon's special item like a handful of bombs or a bow and arrow reside.
|Dungeons are chock full of puzzles to solve, monsters to slay, and treasure to uncover.|
|If only our hero had a monster-sized bottle of Roundup to use on this boss!|
Compared to the original iOS version of the game, Oceanhorn on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One features plenty of quality of life improvements to its controls to make for a more streamlined experience. For one, being able to use a control stick over touch controls allows for so much more precision, making accidental presses occur less often, though I still occasionally had problems using the Trencher Boots (an item that lets you jump over a one block-wide chasm) where I wouldn't jump over the chasm, and instead I'd fall into it.
Furthermore, changing between items in the iOS version meant returning to a menu over and over. With this console port, to cycle between items such as bombs, arrows, and such, you press the left and right directions on the D-Pad while switching between spells is done by pressing the up and down directions on the D-Pad.
|Switch between items on the fly with the D-Pad. Take THAT, not-Chu Chu enemy!|
On the sound part of the Oceanhorn equation, the voice acting is extremely well done, delivering each line with believable emotion and impact. The music, in part done by veteran Japanese composers Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito, is fantastic and really gels with each area and moment of Oceanhorn superbly.
Even playing through Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas a second time, I find myself enjoying the game once more. In this essence, the game is a lot like a typical Zelda title, the series it cloned itself after. I can play a Zelda game more than once and enjoy it each and every time. So far, Oceanhorn is 2 for 2 in this regard. While there are some control annoyances even with using an actual controller this time around, overall, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is an imitator that does its original right.
[SPC Says: A-]
Review copy provided by FDG Entertainment.