Behind every game, there are a variety of other games which served as inspiration. Nothing is formed in a vacuum and every new idea is drawn from one that came before it. Most games try to walk a fine line between originality and inspired elements, but for some, it’s a badge of honor to be compared to (and often accused of ripping off) older titles. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas fits into the second group and it uses the formula taken from classic Zelda titles to create a fun new adventure reminiscent of past legends.
The core gameplay loop in Oceanhorn is both simple and familiar. The player travels from island to island, fighting monsters with a sword, a shield, and a variety of gadgets and spells, gaining new tools along the way and occasionally fighting a giant boss monster. Islands are added to the map as the story progresses and more tools are gathered, and this cycle repeats until the game ends. The game plays like the classic top down Legend of Zelda titles and progresses like Gamecube classic Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but this familiarity leads to a comfortable experience that is quite easy to hop in to.
The plot, like the rest of the game, is fairly simple. An ancient monster terrorizes the people of the islands and you’re the only one who can stop it. Collect some McGuffins, upgrade your equipment, grow stronger, and slay the beast. There’s a crazy hermit that serves as your mentor, a father figure to rescue, and a cast of one-dimensional townsfolk to serve as devices to dump the plot at you along the way. The plot certainly isn’t going to be the main draw of Oceanhorn but it is inoffensive and simple. The only real issue with it is how quickly the climax comes and goes.
The general aesthetic of the game is simple enough; environments are primarily comprised of Minecraft-esque cubes, the textures are bright and colorful, and the characters are cartoon-like and fun. One of the highlights of my time with Oceanhorn was actually the soundtrack. Each track managed to capture the spirit of the environment and be catchy and fun. Occasional bits of dialogue were voice acted and performed very well at that. Overall, the presentation was fantastic and by far my favorite part of my experience with the game.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of minor annoyances that piled up. Sailing from island to island quickly became tedious. I found myself forgetting where to go every time I took a break from the game, with no real in-game reminder of what my goal was. One particular brand of collectible, the bloodstones, required being hit repeatedly with the sword for a solid two seconds to collect, killing momentum. When I reached the final boss, I didn’t have the equipment necessary to kill him and had to go scavenge optional islands to grab some extra gear to scrape my way through that fight.
There isn’t much about Oceanhorn that impacted me and I probably won’t go back and play it a second time. The bosses, the levels, the characters, they all felt watered down and a bit generic. However, that’s not to say it’s a bad game. I had fun with my time in the land of Arcadia, and the game didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s not going to revolutionize the industry, but it made for a fun, lighthearted six or so hours that I’m glad I spent playing it.
Give it a Try – A good game which, although not gaming perfection, offers an enjoyable experience with few negative points.