June 22, 2017
Cornfox & Bros
Debuting originally in 2013 on iOS, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas has been ported to every platform possible, now making its way over to the Nintendo Switch. With its style and mechanics drawing heavy comparisons to The Legend of Zelda, the action adventure game features a young boy protagonist on a quest to find his father by sailing around the ocean, solving puzzles and exploring dungeons with a sword, shield and bow. With the game now a few years old, it’s starting to feel a little dated, but remains an engaging and enjoyable time-waster, especially on another portable device.
Comparing it to Zelda is problematic, especially given the incredible Breath of the Wild on this very platform, so it’s best to take Oceanhorn as Zelda-lite and enjoy it as such. The simplicity of the controls certainly makes it incredibly easy to learn, and the “complete one island at a time” style of gameplay lends itself well to short burst play sessions or public transport trips, which is likely why it was such a success on mobile platforms and why it works again here on the Switch.
As you progress in Oceanhorn, you’ll gain new abilities and items to help you on your quest, but its pick-up-and-play nature renders some of the game to being a bit too simple. For example, combat is very basic, amounting mostly to attacking and blocking with no real variation in enemy attack patterns. Even boss battles didn’t prove to be too much of a challenge, which is a little disappointing. Dungeons also fall into the category of easy; while there are puzzles and some navigational challenges, they all boil down to moving blocks around, finding keys and triggering switches, and never left me stumped.
Moving from island to island is automatic on your boat, so don’t think you’re going to be exploring with much freedom. You acquire a gun that can be used to shoot enemies and items as you travel to new areas, but this mostly equates to a loading screen mini-game more than anything truly special. Indeed, the repetitive nature of the gameplay in Oceanhorn makes it somewhat forgettable, but I appreciated the fact that I could switch off my brain and play through a title that is quite clearly inspired by a franchise I love, without causing me frustration or forcing me to commit to long play sessions.
“While not original, there’s an inherent charm to Oceanhorn that makes it hard to ignore…”
I have to say that Oceanhorn on Switch looks gorgeous. While some environments do feel more unique than others, I like the shine that the world has. Running at 1080p and 60fps on your big-screen TV, it looks so nice that you’ll almost forget that this started out as a mobile game with humble beginnings. Dialogue is a bit hit-and-miss, but the soundtrack from composers Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito adds further to the sense of adventure.
- Simple and fun
- Charming style and soundtrack
- Exploring each new island is engaging
- Combat is too simple
- Puzzles aren't challenging
While not original, there’s an inherent charm to Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas that makes it hard to ignore. Its core gameplay mechanics can get repetitive over time, but played in short bursts, it’s the perfect taste of action-adventure that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.