Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a 3D action-adventure game that has done as much in the way of publishing adventures as it offers in the game. After being released on Android, iOS, and PC, developer Cornfox & Bros is bringing it to the consoles (excluding Nintendo for obvious reasons to be explained later). Set forth on a journey through the Uncharted Islands whether on land or in your sailboat, solve puzzles, battle monsters and bosses, and find the answers to the mysterious disappearance of the protagonist's dad. You can buy the game on Steam for $14.99, Apple iTunes for $8.99, or PlayStation Store and Xbox Marketplace for $14.99.
The game begins with the young protagonist, known as the Kid, fast asleep in his little home on an island during a dark and stormy night. His father, standing across the room and at a desk, narrates his written letter for his son to wake up to. Apologetic for feeling compelled to leave, he mentions his reasons by explaining that the great Oceanhorn monster, responsible for his nightmares and the death of his wife (the protagonist's mother), needs to be killed. If he proves to be unsuccessful it will be up to the Kid to carry out this heavy task.
He grabs his sword and walks the coast of the island when a giant almost robotic looking creature emerges from the sea with a bright orange light nestled on its helm. Just as the outcome begins to look bleak at best for his dad, the cutscene ends and switches to the young boy waking up to the sunshine under a tent. As he opens his first of many chests, a flying wisp jumps out and travels into a cave across the map. This is where your adventure begins. Find the 3 required emblems across the islands that will allow you to fight and defeat the Oceanhorn, avenge your father, and protect the Uncharted Islands.
Having been originally developed to be played on the phones, the game offers a very simplistic style of play. You'll walk, sprint, and dash across the 3D designed maps, battling abundant foes with an array of offensive equipment and abilities, solving puzzles, and finding treasure throughout the maps. The enemies are weirdly designed, but in a fun cartoonish way, all deploying fairly similar and repetitive attacks. Island bosses lack a big presence in the game, and could have been pumped up in the complexity and strength departments; they will use special moves, but after dodging appropriately to them, you will be able to counter attack while they are vulnerable.
There is no jumping action within the game, but traversing through the environment is done with ladders, stairs, and a hopeful chance the differences in height of two platforms is minimum enough to easily step between. There is nothing hidden about the environment in these circumstances, so you'll never find too much difficulty when trying to get from point-A to point-B. There is a mini-map located in the bottom right corner to allow helpful guidance, as well showing locations to points of interest like treasure chests and objectives. You can swim between areas too, sometimes to small patches of sand holding something important, or navigating an area of the map. Occasionally you'll encounter small puzzles that require you to move boxes in order to form bridges or to fetch keys that unlock doors and chests. There's absolutely nothing complex about them but every once in awhile you could make the mistake of over thinking the solutions.
Your health is shown in little red hearts, and can be upgraded by finding the health pieces as you progress through the islands. Attacking is done with an array of weapons like the sword (or stick in the beginning), bow and arrow, bombs, the handful of obtainable spells, or by throwing objects, all while being able to defend yourself using the shield. There's only slight variation in the types of attack done with them, the sword being the most diverse with it's slashing and spinning animations. Picking up and throwing objects is easy, but the one issue with this is that the button designated to perform this action happens to be the same one used to interact with NPCs, signs, etc.
Since the overall main quest in the game is to acquire the 3 emblems needed to defeat the Oceanhorn, you will be constantly tracking each one down. This is done through interacting with locals on each island you travel to, where they will be pointing you closer to your objective. When traveling from one island to the next, you will select your destination on a world map, and it will automatically steer the boat across the sea. The only interaction you have with the game during these travels will be firing off cannons at enemies and barrels, but nothing of significant importance. Alongside sailing the waters, you are able to do some fishing off the beaches.
Sound and Graphics
The music in the game is reminiscent of older Nintendo styled action adventure games, somewhere mixed between Zelda and Pokemon, but without the feeling of classic persona, you'll remember if you play again 10 years later. Voice acting is good when the father narrates his letter during the introduction but quickly becomes stale as every person speaks slow and bland, pushing too much for the legendary undertone. Ambient noises and other sound effects fit with the style of the game but don't provide any greater immersion.
The graphics are bright and colorful in their 3D depiction. Regardless of the island, setting, or characters, everything looks inviting and aesthetically pleasing. When traveling between islands, the water and sky have a beautifully complimenting contrast; the deep blue color of the waving water meets the lightly blue cloud covered sky with a nice horizon that makes the game world feel a lot bigger than it really is. The game performs impressively with its 1080 HD graphics and little to no bugs and glitches.
If you're familiar with Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, you'll already know just about every concept in this game. I hate to compare it in regards to a review, but personal experiences of playing a Zelda-like game on my platform of choice today came with many unexpected but joyous memories of the past. Everything in the game screams Wind Waker, but the game is its own entity regardless.
I would have liked to see slightly more complex puzzles, and a greater challenge regarding the boss fights. It misses a great advantage by auto-piloting the sailboat during travels, and not providing a greater purpose for the cannons. It offers roughly 10-12 hours depending on completion, with a good amount of the extra time being spent on backtracking islands for the treasures unobtainable earlier on. The developers have announces a sequel, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, so hopefully we will get to experience all the charm this one has to offer but with a greater variety of gameplay implemented.
|+ Zelda-like game for platforms other than Nintendo||– Voice acting is sub par|
|+ Bright and beautiful visuals||– No manual sailing of the boat|
|+ The story creates a reason to play||– Not much diversity in combat, bosses, and puzzles|
|+ Offers roughly a dozen hours of gameplay|