Zeldamania Running Wild! Developers Cornfox & Bros. clearly love Zelda, and they want you to love Zelda too. They made a Zelda clone. They’ve got the horn. The Oceanhorn! Originally released as an iOS title in 2013, Oceanhorn was later ported to the PC in 2015 and now it sails onto PS4 and Xbox One. I suppose the big questions are…is it a bad Zelda knock off, or can it sail on its own across the high seas? The respective answers are: yes, and kind of.
You awake to find a note informing you that your Father has abandoned you. Bleak start. He’s gone to seek out and destroy the main antagonist of the game…the Sea Monster Oceanhorn. Oh, and he said he may never return. This prompts you to up sticks, ditch your tent on the island you live on and find your dad. Your first port of call is an old hermit who lives on your island. He has much valuable information and advice to help you on your quest, plus he can talk to you through a magical sea shell. Yep.
Graphically Oceanhorn is cute. It doesn’t push any boundaries but that’s hardly a complaint. It presents a nice, colourful environment for each island. The gameplay is standard Zelda RPG fare. You roam islands and explore their caves and dungeons, chat to townsfolk who give information on the story and reveal the locations of new islands.
Coins used as in game currency are collected through combat and the obligatory smashing of jars. Likewise for XP, which allows you to level up and gain new strengths, such as being able to sail faster or having the ability to carry more items. You can also gain these as you sail from Isle to Isle blasting sea monsters, crates and bombs.
The controls work surprisingly well considering that they were redesigned for consoles from mobile gaming. This doesn’t always work, but fortunately it has in this case. The camera angle is fine, as is the control of your character. Bog standard puzzles such as pushing crates into certain places feel fluid.
The combat of Oceanhorn, while simplistic, can often feel a tad repetitive. There are only so many skeletons, orcs and bats that you can kill over and over. Your standard sword and shield is later upgraded to bombs, arrows and even some spells which include fire and raining down objects from above, all of these are also used in puzzle solving.
Cornfox & Bros. have developed a world that almost sets itself apart from Zelda. It has its own charm, its own quirky characters and several islands to explore each with its own set of challenges. The main game may only last 7 -9 hours, but the challenges plus a mini fishing game add more content if you want it.
While Oceanhorn comes across as a kind of bastard son of A Link To The Past and The Wind Waker, it does hold its own as a small scale version that lacks the depth and grandeur of the games it emulates. That being said I really enjoyed Oceanhorn. It’s the closet you’ll get to playing Zelda without actually playing Zelda – and for the platforms it features on, that’s a welcome opportunity.
Oceanhorn: Monster Of Uncharted Seas was provided to us by Maverick PR and the developer via a download code for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.