Review: Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas (PS4)

oceanhorn-review-banner-yr10

Title: Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas
Format: PlayStation Network Download (499 MB)
Release Date: September 7, 2016
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Developer: Cornfox & Brothers
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas is also available on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and iOS.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
You begin with a sad story of loss and despair and only a stick to fend off the docile enemies that inhabit the small island you live on. Lacking the ability to jump or climb you must carefully explore the surroundings in search of your mother’s necklace that floated away into an ominous looking cave.

Your abilities quickly improve and with every enemy killed you earn XP. This fills a meter in the options menu and, once filled, levels up your character while gaining various things. Sometimes it’s just some money from the guild or a new skill or even larger bags to carry bombs.

You will quickly meet up with Hermit, a helpful fellow who tells you of the journey you must take. He must have the patience of a saint, for I trashed his home several times and threw a few pots in his general direction. Not a bad word was said against me, such a nice guy.

oceanhorn-ps4-scr-12 oceanhorn-ps4-scr-08

After commandeering a boat and plotting a course for a newly discovered island I was quickly at sea. Unable to steer or do anything in the early part of the game I simply, sat back and admired the scenery. Twenty seconds later and I was exploring a jolly little fishing town.

So happy were the people that inhabited the little isle, that they did not mind when I systematically destroyed their belongings, threw their furniture, blew up bookcases and generally acted a bit mischievous.

… more of a skew towards puzzle solving than combat …
They began to tell me of new lands that magically appeared on my map. Most are full of dangerous enemies, important items, spells, and strange looking creatures. It becomes easy to forget where and what you are supposed to be doing. The info area in the Options menu doesn’t always help, especially because you cannot scroll the text.

Oceanhorn follows the same general formula as other games in the genre. Explore a dungeon and solve its puzzles, find a large chest with a much-needed item, use that new thing to gain access to new areas and maybe even help to dispatch a tricky boss.

oceanhorn-ps4-scr-04 oceanhorn-ps4-scr-01

I should really mention the Link shaped elephant in the room. Yes, Oceanhorn is heavily inspired by Zelda. Well, A Link to the Past and The Wind Waker to be exact. Yet I don’t get the feeling that they ripped off any ideas, just borrowed a few little things that I have become so used to in a game like this that not having them would feel even stranger.

With more of a skew towards puzzle solving than combat the game never really gets too tricky. When you fight a boss the camera locks onto the large beast and most are relatively simple to dispatch. With the exception of one small enemy, you can take most out with a few swipes of your sword or just run away.

A few locations and dungeons make me wish I could expand the mini-map or that there was more of a distinction between each area as it was all too easy to get a little lost or be unsure of what you have to do and where you have to do it.

… I have held off, not wanting this adventure to end …
This was not so much of a problem for me but more for my wife and six-year-old daughter who both became hooked on this charming adventure. Luckily, there were three save slots as I wasn’t going to let them near my twelve-hour game save.

I had maxed out my character’s abilities and levelled him up all the way. With only one small voyage to embark on before the finale I have held off, not wanting this adventure to end, hoping to find more secrets.

There are a few more bloodstone gems to find, secrets to uncover, and fish to catch, so I think I will continue playing Oceanhorn that little bit longer. You never know, I might even find the hidden island and play enough to get the Platinum Trophy.

oceanhorn-ps4-scr-29 oceanhorn-ps4-scr-27

Visuals:
Calm waters lap at the sun-kissed beaches and rocks. Plump, healthy palm trees sway in the gentle breeze. It all looks so nice and inviting, well in the beginning anyway. A few other islands leave much to be desired and just like their inhabitants, aren’t very welcoming.

Quaint and happy are the best words I can use to describe this game. Just take a look at the screenshots. It’s all very reminiscent of a few other games that I shall not mention, because Oceanhorn does just enough to make it feel unique.

Yes it has the circular swish of a powered up sword, the decimation of countless large leafed bushes with bombs and arrows lurking underneath. Yet it still feels different. Could it be the fixed isometric view? Maybe, all I know is that I adore its charming style.

… a great adventure game for the whole family to enjoy …
Audio:
I was sad to hear silence when my hero opened a chest. I suppose that would be pushing it. Some good voice work and music help to keep the story flowing and the dungeons intriguing. In fact, the music from Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Itō is excellent and helps to evoke memories of older games and lazy afternoons.

Then there are the little sound effects, like a pot being broken or the patter of feet on stone. It all sounds just right and fits well with the entire ensemble to create a lovely atmosphere. I laughed and was also slightly creeped out by the way Hermit contacts you when you are out and about, I will let you hear it for yourself.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

oceanhorn-ps4-scr-28 oceanhorn-ps4-scr-24

Conclusion:
Oceanhorn is a great adventure game for the whole family to enjoy. It never once felt like the mobile port it originally was. Did I not mention that until now? Well there’s a good reason for that.

When you hear that a game is ported from the mobile platforms, you cannot help but tarnish it with a brush of mediocrity and simplicity. This game is anything but. Playing it on the PlayStation 4 with a DualShock 4 controller is the only way to go.

Some puzzles and maps need a little tweak here and there and the enemies could do with some artificial intelligence stimulation as they aren’t the brightest bunch, but overall this is a great game. It’s an excellent beginning that hopefully turns into a series which could blossom into something spectacular.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

If you send a friend request please add ‘PS Nation’ in the subject area.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Chris Mack

    This game is a true knockoff of Zelda! They had to get sued. Breaking pots, master swords, a flute, heart containers, sailing, cutting grass, a bow and arrow, throwing bombs, pushing crates, the laser-eye enemy, are a straight-up copy from Zelda. Unbelievable. Not to mention that the story is weak and the voiceovers are so terrible and sounded like they were read by an amateur that it was painful to listen to. The music was mediocre at best. Only one excellent song. Other than that, the only postive thing about this game is that it gave me something to do until the next Zelda game comes out. All in all, only buy if you are bored. Then it MAY make sense to spend your hard-earned money.