This game started off as an mobile game which was met with high praise, from there it was ported to PS4, Xbox One, PC & Vita and here we are now on Nintendo Switch. Now let’s address the elephant in the room. This game is a Zelda clone. It has what you would expect from a classic 2D Zelda game. But does that mean you should dismiss it? You might say “but I already have a Zelda game?”. The short answer is no.
The story starts off with your dad leaving for a final letter to you before he goes off to face an defend the land from the beast called Oceanhorn (Ah that’s where it comes from!) You wake up to realize your father has left and after talking to Hermit you set off to find your dad and help him defeat the beast. Without spoiling too much its your run of the mill RPG story without any real twists or turns.
Admittedly I was expecting the story to be a copy of the classic Zelda stories with the princess needing to be rescued and so forth. Mind you this is not far from what is happening, rather than a princess you are off to find your father. I liked how while the game is a tribute in game play they set out a slightly different direction.
The gameplay is reminiscent of what inspired it. It’s extremely easy to pick up and initiative. This is thanks to it being a mobile game originally. You have your 4 face buttons with different actions mapped to them. Shortly into the game you will get the infamous sword and shield combo. You’ll be tossing vases, breaking barrels and swiping blades of grass.
Traveling to different islands in the game is done via sailboat (similar to Wind Waker – One of my favourite Zelda games). You pick you destination and it sets you off on course for there automatically, there is no controlling of the ship. Coming from a mobile version I understand this aspect but I would have preferred to be able to steer the ship and explore the land, even if there is nothing but islands, the control is key (Hoping for a change in Oceanhorn 2 perhaps?)
One thing I really enjoyed which I hope they include in any sequels is the achievement/challenge system. On each island you are given 3 challenges to complete. By completing these you get gems that contribute to leveling up your character. Such a small feature but one that kept me engaged in doing additional things outside my main quest.
The Switch version is near identical to the ones that came before it as well as all the additional content that was updated into previous ports of the game. One thing that makes this version standout however is that it is the only version of the game to run in full 1080p at 60FPS (Docked). Handheld mode will be at 720p.
Oceanhorn accomplishes exactly what it sets out to be. It scratches the itch left behind by classic 2D/2.5D Zelda games. It skates a fine line between tribute and copy but overall is a very enjoyable experience. For the price I would say this is a BUY for any fan of the genre!
Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Release Date: June 22, 2017 (Switch)
Available on: Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, PC
Disclaimer: This game was provided by the publisher for review purposes