Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas



Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a revamped version of original iPad and iPhone release. After gaining tons of positive reviews the developers Cornfox & Bros. decided to take the game to the next level by releasing it on PC. When given the opportunity to play Oceanhorn I was expecting a bland Zelda clone that simply rehashes now-ancient ideas but instead was given an entertaining experience.Â

Let’s start with the story. The journey begins when the protagonist’s father leaving their hometown located on Hermit Island to seek out Oceanhorn, the fiercest sea creature in the land of Arcadia. Alas, he never returns and the nameless boy sets off on an adventure that will push his wits and skills to the limit. He must travel from island to island in search of three pennants to help him pave the way towards defeating Oceanhorn and finding his lost father. Regardless, I wasn’t awfully interested in the whole ordeal. Everything from collecting said pennants to destroying an evil force by controlling a child who looked an awful lot like Link made me want to skip cut scenes rather than view them. I thought this was going to be a dull experience when I was finally introduced to the gameplay itself.

Gameplay is fulfilling due to the fact that it does wonders in nurturing the same essence of other classic top-down games but adding a bit more. In the beginning, the boy you play as gets up from the tent and heads into the house to snatch your father’s sword and shield. Obviously, the game intensifies and you will be able to fight the wildlife along with entering a series of dungeon at certain islands sprawled across the sea. In these dungeons there are a variety of unique weapons and abilities to be obtained such as bow and arrows, bombs, or better boots. I was faced with my first problem having to deal with getting lost in a dungeon; I found it frustrating that there’s no way to see the whole map of the given area – only the mini map can be viewed. Also, some of the mini-bosses/bosses faced in dungeons are, honestly, the easiest battles in the game. Beating a boss at the end of each dungeon doesn’t give you a heart piece but an award or an abundance of riches. Of course, if you get tired from all the adventuring you can also enter houses uninvited and destroy all of the pottery at hand.

There are two neat features added to the game and those are challenges and leveling. Upon coming to a new Island there are challenges to be beaten. These challenges can be simple like, “Throw a vase at an enemy.” When completing a challenge EXP will be sent to your character. With enough EXP you can level up and gain certain perks, thus becoming a better champion of Arcadia. The perks can take the form of upgrades of the amount of arrows or bombs which can be carried or drain less mana from using spells. A major issue I had when playing was not being able to jump off all ledges in the game. Constantly, I found it appalling my character would want to take a shortcut by risking the fall damage in getting a hidden heart piece or secret chest. The landscape simply wouldn’t allow it. Also, when picking up certain objects in boxes the boy will glitch into the crate or wall.

Logically, you can’t travel from one island to another by foot, so your uncle lets you borrow his boat. Second problem is the boat can’t be controlled. Basically, you can’t get to an island until you’ve discovered it in a conversation with a civilian or by reading notes. At least a pumpkin seed shooter is mounted to the boat to take down the somewhat tedious enemies that will attack every once in a while. Once an island is identified it will magically appear on the map as if it was there the whole time. Oceanhorn can be used with controller or mouse and keyboard; after toying around with them the controls on both felt really smooth.

Graphics can’t be judged properly without including the audio. These two features go hand-in-hand by breathing life into Oceanhorn’s universe. The developers managed to have two famous composers write original music for the game and they’re: Nobuo Uemastu (Final Fantasy) and Kenji Ito (Secrets of Mana). Most of the songs are cheery and uplifting whereas others are dark and eerie – these can be heard in caves and dungeons. The voice acting is fair and can be heard in cinematic cut scenes and some in-game dialogue. Oceanhorn relies heavily on reading dialogue so half the time there will be no audio presented. Graphically, the game is stunning. Nothing like Far Cry 4 or Dying Light stunning but for a cartoony video game the visuals are doing better than, say, that of World of Warcraft. Especially the ocean, for when the boy is plopped into the boat for the first time the bright blue ocean can be seen for miles ahead.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a fantastic game, especially when we consider the fact that it’s an iPad/iPhone port. The notion that such a deep and enthralling game could have once been stuck on a cell phone platform is beyond me. Oceanhorn allows players to dive into the mighty seas of Arcadia even if all the islands aren’t shown and there’s no real control of the boat. On a lighter note, the game lives up to its replay value by offering the player tons of secrets, heart pieces, dungeons, hidden caves and much more. Alas, Oceanhorn does come off as a cheap clone of Zelda with a similar story and mechanical features but if you don’t mind that then the game is easily the next best thing – available on PC!