Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
If you only own an Xbox One, PS4 or Nintendo Switch, I’m sure at some point in your life you looked at those shiny Nintendo consoles and felt a tinge of jealousy over the great franchise that we call Zelda. It is colorful, full of outstanding dungeons, items, enemies, and more. Unfortunately, it is something that non-Nintendo gamers could only ever hope of playing. Well, that was until Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas launched on Xbox One, PS4, and recently, Nintendo Switch!
It’s Zelda, but Not Really
When you first look at Oceanhorn, hear the soundtrack, and move around Hermit Island, you truly believe you are in a Zelda game, except you are in one where you are always working on a puzzle. While many reviewers will liken Oceanhorn to some recent – and not so recent – Zelda titles, and for good reason, there is enough that differentiates the two to make Oceanhorn a very acceptable Zelda like title.
What really sets this game apart is that every island you visit throughout your 10 to 15 hour adventure is a puzzle. There really isn’t any free roaming on the islands as they must be traversed in a very specific way, sometimes only accessible with specific items. While there is a fair amount of this in the handheld Zelda titles, it still really doesn’t compare to Oceanhorn. These island puzzles, for the most part, are fun to maneuver through, and rarely did I get discouraged.
In 2017, FDG Entertainment launched Oceanhorn on the Nintendo Switch, and although I was thinking about the 3DS last year when reviewing this game as the perfect Nintendo platform, I’m glad to see this on the Nintendo Switch. Being able to travel with Oceanhorn is a fantastic experience, and nothing is lost graphically when bringing it over to the system.
Had FDG decided to move this to the 3DS, I guarantee you there would have been some graphical decreases to make sure performance was top notch, but that issue doesn’t affect the Nintendo Switch. Right when I received my code for review, I took the title on the go for my vacation. It was the best week of on-the-go game playing I’ve ever had since owning my Switch (for the record, I prefer Zelda on the TV!).
For Switch owners, Oceanhorn is a no brainer!
Story is Nothing New
There is nothing fancy about the Oceanhorn story. Your mother has been killed, and your father leaves to attempt to take down what inevitably killed your mother. You then awake from your slumber, and with your father gone, begin an epic quest to see what has happened to him.
Your initial point of contact will be the Hermit on your home island, who will inform you that you need to find three emblems – sun, earth, water – that will be needed to enter the domain of the Oceanhorn, where you will ultimately learn the fate of your father.
You begin the game with only a stick for a weapon, but as you begin talking to characters on various islands, and reading messages in bottles, you will open up new islands to explore, full of useful and necessary items like bombs, bows, and so on.
The game isn’t long, but the pace keeps up at all times; if there is a major criticism of the title it would be the lack of direction. When playing hour after hour, day after day, it’s not too bad. But if you were to step away for a week to go on vacation – like I did – you might come back to an hour or so of frustration while you attempt to figure out what you should do next, a problem that almost made me quit the game entirely.
I’m glad I didn’t, however. Oceanhorn is a fantastic experience from beginning to end, and even if there are a few hiccups along the way, the charming visuals, decent – although not overly complicated – puzzles, and the great soundtrack from a former Final Fantasy composer, make Oceanhorn a perfect Zelda like experience.