When you first start playing Oceanhorn you may think you’re playing a popular game in Nintendo’s library. That’s because the game is pretty much a Zelda title with some names and identifying details having been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. In fact, the game probably could have been called Oceanhorn: The Wind Waker, if it wouldn’t get Cornfox & Bros. in a world of trouble.
That being said, can it live up to the series it tries so hard to emulate?
Having read the above intro, you know what to expect gameplay-wise from Oceanhorn. There’s a sword to swing, bombs to throw, and pots to smash. There are dungeons that hold powerful new items to help you through the next dungeon, and so forth. There’s even sailing the open ocean from island to island as you search for your father and the mysterious monster, Oceanhorn.
Oceanhorn is vibrant. It’s bursting with colorful and cute charm. Enemy models are interesting, varied, and wonderfully bizarre, while the steampunk elements of the world ooze theme. The environments, even the ocean which you’ll spend so much time on, are wonderful and full of life. My only problem with the game’s visuals are the people. Something about the stubby legs and ultra long torsos feels a bit off and sometimes doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the game. It’s a minor gripe, really, as it’s not a big enough deal to deter from the game as a whole.
Fans of Zelda will feel right at home with Oceanhorn. The game’s familiar formula makes it easy to jump into and enjoy, while some of the streamlined gameplay make tasks that started to feel like a slog in The Wind Waker, specifically sailing, a joy. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough. While the simple task of sailing has become easier, puzzles are uninspired and repetitive, generally involving moving boxes and finding keys. There’s rarely a case when a puzzle requires much thought.
The story also suffers a bit. It plots along without any real twists or major developments. NPCs are all fairly flat with nothing important to say except the occasional point in the right direction. Overall Oceanhorn lacks a bit of emotion that the games it pays homage to all seem to have, even with a silent protagonist.
Is Oceanhorn fun? It is. It just doesn’t have much staying power and tries to fill some pretty big boots. Then again, at $14.99 on PCs and consoles, and $8.99 on mobile, it’s worth checking it out if you’re a fan of the genre or if you want a Zelda-style game on something other than a Nintendo console.
A PS4 copy of Oceanhorn was provided free for review by Cornfox & Bros.