Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
Publisher: Cornfox & Bros.
Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
Genre: Role-Playing Game / Open-World Adventure
Release Dates: 17 Mar, 2015 (EU & NA)
Price: 14,99€ (Steam)
The premise behind Oceanhorn's story is something you have probably seen a hundred times before, as the story kicks off with the hero's father leaving to save the world, only to put you in control of the hero with a quest to find your father and help him defeat Oceanhorn moments after. From there onward you'll experience an entire Zelda-like adventure, looking for the location and a way to defeat Oceanhorn and rescue your father. There is always something new to discover, but Oceanhorn's biggest miss is when you realize that all your discovery excitement that builds up as you move forward quickly goes back to zero once you realize that there are few things to experience besides the main story. There are sixteen different islands to visit, mostly serving as an essential part to the storyline, but only a few of those have gameplay value to encourage a full exploration such as Tikarel which serves as the main town where you can buy items and take on new quests.
Unfortunately, the rest of many are only a one-time visit deal, as you can finish everything there is to see and experience in less than 15 minutes and never return to that island again. There are some activities such as finishing and completing the different challenges that might add a bit of variety, but even those feel repetitive and pretty basic to any RPG. The story itself has nothing much to offer as you can probably guess how it's all going to end from the very beginning, but nevertheless, the journey all the way to the final island is an enjoyable ride if you're willing to look past the repetitiveness and basic concepts.
Not only does Oceanhorn feel like a Zelda game, but it plays like one too; if you have played a Zelda game before the formula will seem very familiar to you: make your way to that dungeon, defeat the boss in order to obtain the item you need, return to town to gather more information about your next quest and repeat until you get to the end. Navigation is done via a Wind Waker-like boat mechanic that allows you to travel from one island to the next one using your boat, but there are very few things to do on sea, as the only thing to keep you preoccupied while you reach your next destination are the barrels and mines that randomly pop in front of you as you sail, but after a while, even those start to become more annoying than fun, as the whole concept becomes repetitive and unrewarding.
On land, the gameplay is pretty basic, as you only have a few spells at your disposal and your sword attacks, but once you realize that some spells are only useful once for the boss battle that they were designed for, the whole adventure will only become more and more repetitive. There are only a few enemies that you will encounter throughout your adventures, most of which can be defeated with basic sword attacks that require no strategy at all, while the boss battles vary in quality, as some of them feel intelligent and rewarding, while others are just a very long game of poke-poke-hit. Apart from the main quest itself, there are few things to keep you occupied in your adventures and while locating all of the bloodstones feels rewarding in the end, that reward will probably come in too late as you would've already finished the game by then.
Noting the fact that Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas was originally an iOS game, it did make its transition to PC and consoles quite well, as the game does look beautiful on the big screen, but don't expect anything breathtaking, as even with an upscaled resolution the game still lacks the details a console or PC game would have. The design is basic, and there are only a few environments that vary from one island to another, but for most parts the world around you looks pretty similar no matter where you are. The animations could use a bit more work and the characters a bit more detail, but overall as a top-down RPG, Oceanhorn has enough to keep your hero on track.
There are some great tunes in here, and if you didn't know different you could say they were in the soundtrack of a Zelda game, but they do start repeating after a while and it does make it boring listening to the same thing all over again. The effects are enough to justify the means, but the voice acting is absent, not that the game would necessarily need it since the quests instructions are pretty clearly delivered via text dialogue, but it would've been nice to have that option, at least for the main cutscenes to make the whole missing father story more personal.
You can finish the whole game within 10 hours, add a few more if you're willing to revisit every island in order to gather all the bloodstones and complete all the challenges, but that's pretty much all of it, and since some skills are required to access a few areas, you can't complete everything in your visit visit, so you will have to deal with the repetitiveness of the main story first and then move on to the repetitiveness of the sidequests.
It's impossible to deny the fact that Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a Zelda clone since it feels, plays and looks like a game in the Zelda series, but it's a pretty decent one, so if you liked Zelda and want more of it, Oceanhorn might prove to be an entertaining adventure for you. The game does come with its flaws and lack of content, but in the end it will prove out to be an adventure worth playing.