Review: Oceanhorn

I’ve been meaning to write on Oceanhorn for a long time. But for some reason I have been postponing it again and again.

Oceanhorn (published for iPhone and iPad) is often compared to The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and not without a reason. Everyone who has ever played a Zelda game is right at home with this one with similar items, game structure and elements. Even the outlook of the game feel like playing Zelda and the marvellous music by Kalle Ylitalo, Kenji Ito and Nobuo Uematsu work with the same level.

The game starts with the main character (a voiceless young boy) searching for the clues of his father´s mission. He quickly learns that there is something amiss in the world he lives in and goes out to set things straight. To be honest after that point I kind of lost the track of what is going on.

As the story is divided between different islands you visit with a small boat (more islands pop up from the sea once you discover their existence) it is fractured by default. The game developers have put in their best effort to keep the story flowing but at least for me it was really not that interesting and since I quickly noticed I had been visiting the islands in a “wrong order” I actually did not pay that much attention…

Excluding a couple of points where I was clueless of what I should be doing next because of a missed bit of information the story actually was not the point. A game that is designed for a portable device with which some players maybe spend 5 minutes to play with at a time the game did what it was supposed to. It drew me in with familiarity, enjoyable game feeling and the taste of an adventure.

Each island and dungeon I visited had a distinct feeling and monsters (though quite limited in variety) where entertaining. I enjoyed playing Oceanhorn so much that I actually got tenosynovitis (at least that is what my dictionary tells me to call it). My almost four years old son was fascinated with the game so much he accidentally deleted my first save and brought me my iPad to play the “adventurer game” so he could watch.

Oceanhorn did not offer a lot in the way of difficulty. Boss fights where relatively easy (and I haven’t played this kind of games in years) and the dungeons and islands where quickly ran through. The only real obstacles I faced were related to somewhat horrible control. You guide your character with another thumb and use the only button with another. Though in paper this works like a charm in the game play there were several moments when I wanted to throw my device to the nearest wall because the PC just did not want to do what I had in mind. It did not help that there were a couple of spots where precise movement was necessary. From a game development point of view those should really have been left out.

Even though the game is not that new it is still getting some updates. The most important one for me was the possibility to skip the cut scenes. Nobody wants to watch the same scene each time they try to find out the weak spots of the boss.

All in all Oceanhorn was very entertaining game that easily redeemed its price. It has some minor drawbacks but I can still recommend it to anyone who likes the Legend of Zelda. I spent little over 9 hours to complete the game though I did not aim for the perfect score. It is a good game but I doubt I will return to it unless additional content is added.

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