OK, I know what you are thinking...didn't they already review this game? And the answer is yes, but not on the Nintendo Switch. We wanted to take some time and test out this title again on Nintendo's hardware. Kyle reviewed this one originally, and now it's time to get my take on it. I did not read Kyle's review again before reviewing this myself, so lets see how close we both felt on Oceanhorn.
Keeping in mind originally this was a mobile title, this is insane to imagine paying this on a phone. So if you had and skipped out on any console version, I think you should go back, this doesn't feel like a mobile game at all to me. The developers definitely spent some extra time putting on the polish before porting it over. But i'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Let's start with the story first, here is the official description from the developers:
"Grow from a boy to a legend.
You wake up and find a letter from your father. He is gone...
The only lead is his old notebook and a mysterious necklace. What happened?
Explore the islands of Uncharted Seas, a world filled with many dangers, puzzles and secrets. Fight monsters, learn to use magic and discover ancient treasures which will help you on your quest. Use all your wits and skill to unravel the mysteries of the ancient kingdom Arcadia and sea monster Oceanhorn.
Oceanhorn combines captivating storytelling, breathtaking 3D visuals and exciting gameplay into one massive action adventure experience you will never forget.
Enjoy an incredible soundtrack from the best video game composers in the world: Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) and Kenji Ito (Seiken Densetsu)."
Alright so let's see, silent protagonist? check. Sword and a shield? check. Sailing from island to island? check. Affinity to throwing pots and jars? check....wait a minute this sounds very familiar....but you know what? I'm ok with it. While some make say it's a knockoff or an imitation, I don't. You can be inspired by other aspects in other games but still provide enough legs and heart to make it your own. Oceanhorn does just that.
The game plays out across a series of islands that play out more like a unique dungeon experience each time. There are a variety of different puzzles on each of them that will require some back and forth for sure as you get new items and unlock new skills. To get from island to island you hop in your ship and can shoot some enemies and barrels and such to get more XP and gems. I jokingly said it has better naval combat than Black Flag on twitter...while it may not be better...I had more fun with it lol. Each island allows for a little bit of exploration to find some hidden areas and chests but for the most part you are clearly guided in a direction on each island of where to go, now whether or not you can complete the island with what you have currently is a different story. As you progress through the game you unlock other weapons, items and spells to help you along the way. The button placement for me took a little getting used to, I would find myself throwing bombs alot when I meant to attack with my sword. But overall not a big deal to work with!
The puzzles are definitely a big focus in this game. While at the beginning hours they are relatively simple and just require some back and forth they do get a little more difficult towards the latter half. I am not entirely sure if they are really harder or more just obscure to figure out/find. Boss battles were pretty easy as is most of the combat in the game, while not really challenging it made for a fun and lighthearted experience. The game overall takes around I'd say 8-10 hours depending on how much exploration or how many side quests you go after.
Graphics are cartoony but well done. While there is lack of facial animation and such, for a downloadable indie title, I think it's very good. There are clearly different environments on different islands and doesn't get too repetitive with the visuals except in caves sometimes. Most of my gameplay was done in handheld mode and I can say it was flawless. I did not have any "chugging" or lag or frame rate drops at all. Which I applaud the developers for taking the time to really make this the best experience they could. Playing it docked on the big screen does show a little more how some of the animation is a little rough, but overall nothing to be concerned about.
The music in this game is a major highlight. They had some really talented folks working on it and it shows. At certain points its whimsical and light and other points dark and epic which fits the tone of the game very well. Definitely stands out as a great soundtrack in recent memory for myself within games.
All in all I think this is a great summer time pick up for some fun. Plus at it's $15 price point, you really can't go wrong! So if you are down for some exploration and some high seas action, I recommend giving Oceanhorn a whirl! With the sequel already in the works, grab this one today!
Oceanhorn was reviewed using a Switch code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.