Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a Zelda clone. That is immediately apparent whether you watch any of the trailers or the beginning of the game which is very reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Other items are inspired by that beloved franchise as well such as your character sailing to different islands in Oceanhorn like you do in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. While this is pretty blatantly “inspired” by the Zelda franchise it really doesn’t hit the same notes and isn’t nearly as charming. Still though it is a fun game in its own right and is probably the closest that gamers will come to having a “Zelda” game on Xbox One or PS4.
At the beginning of the game you wake up on Hermit Island and after a bit of light exploring you come across a guy that is going to be helping you throughout your adventure. You eventually learn the backstory of Oceanhorn and about the great catastrophe that took place there and what it will take to set things right. Of course you are the only person that can do this. Before you head off on your adventure you have to find your dad’s sword and shield so you can protect yourself and then you go on your way to find three different emblems: the Emblem of Ocean, the Emblem of Earth and finally the Emblem of Sun. This is essentially the Triforce from the Zelda franchise and the symbol for the Emblem of Earth is even three triangles upside down. Once you find these emblems you can confront Oceanhorn and, hopefully, set everything right.
As you progress through the game you will come across dungeons. If you are familiar with the Zelda franchise you will be able to solve the puzzles without any problems as many of the solutions include either lighting a fire, moving crates around, blowing up walls with bombs and various other things. You’ll have to find keys to get past locked doors which will eventually allow you to find the Master Key which will get you the item for that dungeon as well as unlock the door to the boss’s lair. The bosses in this game range from this caterpillar looking thing, the dead king angler (Oceanhorn’s version of the Zora people), Shadow Mesmeroth (which reminded me a little of Agahnim from A Link to the Past) and more. You have your forest dungeon, your fire dungeon and other things like that as well. You will also eventually get to a point where you find the Coral Saber which is essentially the Master Sword.
Despite all of the similarities and “inspirations” that Oceanhorn used there are some things it is missing. It isn’t nearly as charming as the Zelda franchise. The different Zelda games can be somewhat deep and the more recent ones are a bit more open world and it just has a “magic” to it that really only Nintendo can do. Oceanhorn is a fun game in its own right and I am happy that I played it but it doesn’t have the soul Zelda does. There is less than half of the amount of dungeons that a typical Zelda has and the dungeons that are in the game are fairly shallow and short. I know that might sound like I’m complaining about that but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you don’t have the time for a massive adventure. However if you are looking for something that is on par with what Nintendo releases then you are probably going to be disappointed. On the other hand, Oceanhorn could be a fantastic way to introduce newcomers into this type of game. It could almost be used as a tutorial for people who are interested in this genre and then once they are finished with it (and assuming they enjoyed it) they can graduate to the more difficult games.
Oceanhorn has a number of different islands to explore, some of them big and some of them small. You will want to explore them all though to make sure you get everything. Not all of the islands are available at once and some of them will only be discovered through conversations with people who live in a town or through a telescope that you come across. Your weapons are standard fare with a sword and shield, bombs, bow and arrow, magic spells and more. There is a fishing mini game as well and even a trophy for catching one fish of every kind. If you happen to be a trophy hunter then you will also be happy to hear that Oceanhorn does indeed have a platinum and it looks like it isn’t going to be really hard to earn.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a fun game as long as you set your expectations accordingly. It isn’t one of these massive quests that Nintendo likes to take you on but it is enjoyable in its own right and if you are short on time to play games you might even enjoy this “bite size” experience a bit more. The combat works as you would expect and I enjoyed the graphical style as well. The audio also does a great job of trying to set the mood and if you have a nice sound system (or a nice pair of headphones) you can really hear the sand crunch underneath your feet as you run by, for example. If you are at all curious about Oceanhorn and you are generally a fan of these types of games then I would say it is worth picking up. It is only $14.99 on PS4 and Xbox One which seems about right for this type of “bite size” experience.