Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas was originally developed for iOS devices back in 2013 and has been ported over the years to other consuls like PS4, Vita and now finally the Nintendo switch. The game starts with you, the unnamed protagonist, waking up to find your father has gone off to defeat a monster named Oceanhorn. With your dead mother’s pendant glowing and leading you to find a weapon, the story unfolds to reveal that something evil is going on in the world around you.
It is here where I must take a moment to explain that Oceanhorn is very much like games from the Zelda series. The unnamed protagonist moves, attacks and reacts to the worldaround him as link would. You’ll be breaking pots and cutting grass to find hearts and money, using bombs and arrows to solve puzzles and attack your enemies and solving puzzles to navigate dungeons and to defeat bosses.
Visually, Oceanhorn is a beautiful game with the ability to make the world seems bright and open as well as dark and sinister when the story calls for it. The islands you will visit look very Minecraft-esque in their blocky, layered design. I found this not only pleasing to look at but also very helpful when it came to fighting enemies or solving puzzles as I was able to determine how many “squares” I was from what I was attacking or working with.
Character development and growth issomewhat similar to an RPG where you gain levels by collecting experience points. Things locked behind level progression can be items, magic spells or your ability to hold more bombs and arrows. You gain experience by collecting crystals that are dropped by monsters or by completing specific achievements on each island. Each island has a set list of tasks for these achievements, things like “read 10 signs” or “defeat 15 crabs” that motivate you to explore the entirety of the island so you can level up.
Though the story in Oceanhorn was interesting, I felt as though my enjoyment was hindered by a frustrating amount of backtracking. Islands don’t become available to visit until they are mentioned in a conversation with an NPC or read about somewhere in the world. This means that if you want to visit Bomb Island, you better keep talking to that guy in the pub until he mentions it otherwise, you may be wondering around for thirty minutes wondering where to go next.
Oceanhorn is an impressive port up from a mobile game but it does suffer from a few hiccups by not being played on the platform it was originally intended for. One thing that became incredibly frustrating was if multiple items/NPCs were too close to each other, the game had difficulty determining which one I was actually wanting to interact with. On mobile, all I would have to do is tap on the chest to open it rather than constantly getting caught in a dialogue loop with the NPC standing right next to the chest.
Last but not least is music, the soundtrack for Oceanhorn is fantastic! With composers Kenji Ito and Nobuo Uematsu both on staff for this one, you can only imagine the quality if you know their history. The music will bring the world Oceanhorn to life while you play and really stick in your head long after you put it down.
In conclusion, Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas is a great game and a lot of fun. Though the hiccups of being a mobile port and a frustrating amount of backtracking could be counted against it, the interesting and beautiful world, challenging puzzles, solid gameplay and fantastic soundtrack made my almost 10-hour experience an enjoyable one!
Review copy was provided by FDG Entertainment