Playing and reviewing a game like Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is no easy task for a few different reasons. As soon as you start the game you realize that the Legend Of Zelda influence is quite heavy, almost too much at times. This isn’t bad per se, considering that Nintendo is probably never going to release its games on mobile, but it makes you wonder if Oceanhorn has enough to stand on its own and not be remembered simply as a Zelda clone.
Unfortunately taking gameplay ideas from one of the most successful game series ever released doesn’t mean that they will be just as brilliant. Oceanhorn suffers from a few issues that prevent it from being a remarkable game.
The similarities with the Zelda series are everywhere, from the silent hero on his quest to find some gems, to the progression of the adventure, to the way players must find heart quarters to increase their total health and so on. Even the tools and items used to clear dungeons are pretty much the same ones seen in many games of the Nintendo series like the Bow, bombs and so on.
Dungeons are nothing exceptional, unfortunately. Our mute hero will be traveling through some quite standard underground mazes, fighting enemies and solving puzzle to reach the final boss of each dungeon.
Puzzles are really disapponting, being shallow and uninteresting, with only a few ones being somewhat challenging. As you explore dungeons, you’ll soon get bored moving boxes around, finding switches and more. Some of the game’s puzzles are also taken straight from previous Zelda games, creating an unpleasant sense of deja vu. This is one of the istances where Oceanhorn really shows its limits.
Combat, luckily, is slightly better than the puzzles. While the basics are identical to Zelda games (what a surprise!), there are a few new combat elements that make the game stand out a bit. During battle, players will be able to use the shield to stun foes. This stun attack is needed to defeat the strongest enemies and adds a welcome layer of strategy.
Boss battles are even better than regular encounters. Players will have to find and expose weak points during the battle before being able to damage the giant mechanical monsters that control each of the game’s dungeons. The Zelda influence is as strong here as for other gameplay elements but it’s not as bothering.
Unfortunately even combat has its own share of flaws. The controls get in the way most of the time and it’s not a problem of touch screen controls. The way the controls are mapped, you use a single button for different actions. This often leads to performing the wrong action during battle, resulting in frustration.
An area where the game truly shines is its presentation. The game simply looks gorgeous and not only from a technical point of view, as the artistic direction is just as good. The world is simply so charming that you will want to fully explore it, even though it’s not really required to complete the game.
Giving a final judgement on Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is not an easy task at all. The game tries way too hard to be a Zelda game but it doesn’t manage to get close to the magic found in many of Link’s adventures, feeling shallow and uninspired most of the times. There’s some good in the game like the boss battles and the art direction, but it’s not enough to make it a must-have.