Any chance you’ve been itching for something Zelda-esque lately? Looking for some adventure, some sword swinging, some mystical artifacts of power? Looking for something enjoyable but relatively cheap to provide a few hours of fun?
Then I’m going to recommend Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas!
I’m not kidding about Oceanhorn being very Zelda in concept. It actually almost feels like a rip-off from time to time in some of the mechanics and plot points. That said, that’s not entirely a bad thing, because if you’ve played a bunch of Zelda games and you’re itching for something new in that same old vein, this will definitely scratch that itch. Or if you don’t even care that it’s similar, you’ll also probably find this enjoyable, which was more my case!
Anyway, you play Oceanhorn as a boy who goes off to sail the seas in search of his missing father, visiting the islands all around and slowly restoring the world back to balance, defeating the terrible, shadowy enemy who brought about the world’s fall way back when. Corruption of the natural guardians of the world stand in the way, as do caves filled with puzzles and overworlds filled with enemies. You can take a break to go fishing, though, or maybe you’re the completionist type, and you want to make sure you get all the gear and upgrades so that you can find all the bloodstones that count toward your 100%. OR maybe you’re the speed runner type, and you want to see how fast you can blitz through the game and defeat the final boss. Either way, Oceanhorn offers you something to enjoy.
Personally, I’m a completionist by nature, so I spent longer on the game than it necessarily takes to complete at less than 100%. This meant visiting every island, reaching the max level, completing every achievement, finding every bloodstone, and getting all five spells.
And you know what? I felt like every second was worth it.
The environments were all distinct but beautiful, and the dungeons lovely without being overly complex or circular. My personal favorite location was the graveyard island (I’ve been in a spooky mood lately, what with my NaNoWriMo project having a literal skeleton cat), though the water dungeon was also really nice (and a hell of a lot less frustrating than Zelda water dungeons!), decked out in coral and ice as it was.
Additionally, the game has a few short cutscenes that are fully voiced and replayable at any time from your pause menu (in case you accidentally skipped one or just really liked it), which I always think is a nice touch. There’s something about fully voiced cutscenes that just brings me joy. I think it’s because it suggests that extra effort was made, and I can appreciate that.
Plus, if you enjoy what you’re hearing so far, there’s good news! Oceanhorn: Knights of the Lost Realm is expected for PC and iOS in 2019! There’s not a concrete date set as far as I can tell, nor is there any mention of it coming to the Switch (which is what I played it on for all of $15), but the trailer looks like the game is going to be more like Breath of the Wild in some senses, with properly proportioned models and a more open-world style camera compared to the cutesy squished models and top-down fixed camera of Monster of the Uncharted Seas.
Possibly my only gripes with the game are that the fishing minigame is HARD, that the controls in general aren’t always 100% intuitive, and that every time you land on an island, even if you’ve already visited, you have to listen to a voiceover from the main character’s father’s journal, which can get annoying if you have to keep visiting certain islands. Still, though, for $15 and about 12 hours of gameplay if you go the 100% route, Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas was a blast to play, and I might even play it again in a few months, when the experience isn’t as fresh in my mind. There’s nothing new to be gained, so it doesn’t have the replay value of other games, but I’m confident that it’s enjoyable enough to go through again at a later date.
If you’d like to try Oceanhorn but don’t have a Nintendo Switch, it’s available on iOS, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, XBox One, and Android! Chances are pretty good that it’s already available for a device you own.
Already played Oceanhorn? Thinking of trying it? Let’s chat!