Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas Review – PlayStation 4

Everyone loves The Legend Of Zelda. It’s a seminal title in gaming history that did so many things first and right, that it’s impossible to say just how far it’s influence reaches in the industry (and into other media, for that matter). As a result, few franchises have been as emulated, copied, and referenced as the Zelda series. That’s where Oceanhorn comes in. There’s a certain charm to this 2.5D overhead puzzle/action title, but the question is just how well does it pull off being a descendant of a venerable game?

Oceanhorn began life as a smart device game, then made it’s way to PC, and now finally to the PS4. It’s an action/adventure exploration game that’s heavily rooted in puzzle and problem solving. In a nutshell, that’s about all that can be said about the game without immediately drawing comparisons to the Legend Of Zelda series, in particular A Link To The Past and Windwaker. A beloved family member leaves you alone in the middle of the night to go face a terrible evil, and it’s up to you to find out why and finish what they started. To do this, you’ll explore small self-contained islands separated by a vast body of water. Sail, explore, fight, puzzle-solve… repeat.

There’s a certain charm to the overall look and visual design of the game; a charm that initially draws you in. The controls handle well and are as responsive as they need to be, and seeing as how it began life as a tablet game, it runs completely fine on the PS4 hardware. Plenty of enjoyment can be had from exploring all the different islands that are out there, and the main plot, while not compelling, at least serves it’s purpose in seeing you through to the end. Last but not least, the enemy designs are varied and well-designed, which you would hope for in a game drawing such heavy inspiration from a series known for it’s creature designs.

Ultimately, however, Oceanhorn can never rise above mere homage. There isn’t a single moment of time spent playing where you aren’t thinking to yourself “man, these guys really like Windwaker.” And that’s a shame, because I think there’s a market out there for Zelda-ish games that push the genre in directions that Nintendo may not be able to explore. 3D Dot Hero and Darksiders are proof of this. That’s not to say that Oceanhorn is terrible- it’s just… average. Given the potential that can be seen in the game on even a causal glance, that’s unfortunate.

If you’re looking for a throw-back experience and don’t have easy access to a Nintendo platform, you could do worse than Oceanhorn. If, however, you have any current Nintendo system, there’s no reason to choose this game over any of the other titles it so heavily borrows from. Maybe if there’s an Oceanhorn 2, the developers can bring something fresh and compelling to the table.

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