To be honest, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas completely slipped under my radar when it was first released on iOS back in 2013. When the announcement came that it was being brought to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, interest immediately sparked, as after initial impressions, it looked like a type of game that was right up my alley. Whenever a game is brought to consoles from the mobile platform though, I always tread lightly and stay cautious, just in case. Is Oceanhorn nothing more than a Legend of Zelda clone? Or is there more to it? Read on for our full Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas review.
Title: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 7, 2016
Copy Supplied by Publisher
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start. Yes, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is very much a Legend of Zelda title on a non-Nintendo platform. Everything about the game, from the way it flows, to the art style, to the combat.. it’s all taking a page straight out of Nintendo’s playbook. But that’s not to say this is a bad thing. There have been many successful Zelda clones released since the original debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Most of those clones, however, tried to do something a little bit different. Oceanhorn is, by and large, a love letter to and a mixture of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Wind Waker.
It’s hard to play through this game and not make comparisons to The Wind Waker at every waking opportunity. From the moment the game starts up, the inspirations slaps you in the face, and it only continues throughout the entirety of Oceanhorn. Once you’re done on the initial starting island, which takes roughly an hour or so, you’ll have access to your boat, and can begin sailing around and truly getting to enjoy what Oceanhorn has to offer. But guess what? It’s identical to The Wind Waker. In order to traverse the sea, you pull open your map, select your destination, and then the boat automatically takes you to your next location. I couldn’t get over how much this game takes from The Wind Waker.
That being said, I did enjoy a lot of what Oceanhorn was attempting to do. Being a massive Legend of Zelda fan, though, I had a hard time shaking off the comparisons and trying to look at Oceanhorn as a stand alone unit. There is a lot to love about it, as the combat and gameplay is an enjoyable experience. One of the main aspects that I enjoy about The Legend of Zelda so much is the various difficult dungeons that Link overcomes throughout his journey. Oceanhorn has a few puzzles and dungeons that need to be explored, but the overall sense of difficulty is not present, as I rarely struggled with my time from start to finish, which took me roughly ten hours to complete.
There could be an underlying reason for all of this though. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a Mobile game first and foremost. Having released in 2013 on Mobile platforms, the game was then reworked slightly for a console port. But it’s Mobile heritage is still present, especially when looking at the Pause and Menu screen. Developer Cornfox & Bros. most likely couldn’t do everything they wanted to do with Oceanhorn, due to the limitations of the Mobile platform. This actually has me really excited for Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, which was announced as being in development last month. If they can focus on development on consoles or PC first, we could be in for a much better and deeper experience than the original title in the series.
The main draw of Oceanhorn, for me, is the masterful soundtrack that exists. Upon loading the game for the first time and letting the title screen hit, you’re immediately met with a beautiful piece of music. One of the best composers known to the industry, Nobuo Uematsu, is behind some of the best and most memorable pieces in Oceanhorn. Known for his work on the Final Fantasy series, Nobuo Uematsu continues to impress with his ability to create magical pieces of music that I just want to listen to forever. And in fact, I did just sit there with the title screen on in the background while doing other things from time to time. It’s worth a listen to for any fan of video game music, and especially fans of the master himself, Nobuo Uematsu.
Overall, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a quick experience into an alternate dimension Legend of Zelda title. While some are going to find the trip a remarkable one, others are simply going to see Oceanhorn as nothing more than a game imitating a much better game. I did enjoy the time spent on the journey, but it just didn’t offer enough for me to really want to dig deeper into it. I am excited for the future of the series though, as Cornfox & Bros. can really do something amazing with the sequel.