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Slick’s Nit-Picks: Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas

Oceanhorn - Monster of Uncharted Seas - cover

Our very own Rich often speaks of the advancements in mobile gaming during episodes of My take Radio. Gone are the days where Tetris and Ms. Pac-man were top titles on the mobile scene. Games like Candy Crush and  Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff that receive constant updates to extend their shelf life, but even they are not necessarily for the “hardcore” gamer. Full adventures with stories, minigames and composed music are now available to those that want them and you do not need a 3DS or Vita to play them. In 2013, a title called Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas hit iOS. This was a full-length adventure taking inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Today, it has taken a huge leap to PS4 and Xbox One. Time to see if it was worth the trip.

DEADBEAT DAD Our tale begins as our hero (he has no name) sleeps and his father writes him a farewell note. He tells of an ancient evil known as Oceanhorn and how it is tracking him down. All he leaves his son is his journal which talks of the many islands in the area along with their inhabitants. Here is what gets me. Pop says that he is leaving because Oceanhorn is stalking him. At the same time he tells his adolescent son to start a dangerous journey that will eventually bring him face to face with Oceanhorn. Sounds like you could have better protected the boy by sticking with him.

There is plenty of fun to be made of the narrative, but the game's direction is solid. Yes, it does borrow from Zelda, but plenty of games have you visit different locales to collect items. These items in turn are necessary to take down a great evil and you find gear along the way. Do not let the similarities to Wind Waker dismay; this is a tale to be enjoyed, especially considering you cannot play a Zelda title on PS4 or Xbox One.

THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY It is difficult to describe Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas without mentioning the Zelda series. Everything about this game feels like you are in Hyrule. In terms of gameplay, that is not the worst thing in the world. From the moment you pick up the game the responsive controls feel comfortable. You are given relatively clear objectives and clues are lying about everywhere. This makes the game inviting to all skill levels. Unfortunately, this means the game is more than a little bit easy most of the way through. Some of the dungeons have puzzles that take a bit more thought. I admit to being stumped and having my stream viewers trying to help me out on at least two occasions. The game however, overly prepares you for most combat situations. Boss fight can be tough until you realize that you can just fling bombs at most of them. The most difficult monster in the game is a tiny, floating masked thing that breathes fire. Even that is only until you obtain the skill that kills it.

I am not bashing Oceanhorn for being too easy. Regardless of that fact, it is a lot of fun to play. It would just be really great if there were a difficulty level setting or maybe a new game plus that was extra hard. As it is, the game itself pays attention to what you need and gives it to you. If an ogre beats the crap out of you, cutting down grass and monsters is likely to yield hearts. The game even uses the four heart container system to give you a new heart. Look at it this way, at least this boy, unlike Link, can actually control when he jumps!

WAIT, THIS IS A PORT? Having streamed the entire game for the R.A.G.E. Works audience, I was often asked to confirm things. “Is this Zelda?” “THIS is under a GB in file size?” “It's only HOW much?” When you consider the roots of the title, these are all valid questions. I mentioned earlier that Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas began as an iOS title back in 2013. It is nearly unthinkable that the game could be ported to current generation consoles in 2016 and not look out of place. While the graphics take cues from the Japanese “super-deformed” style, the overall production value of the game is high. Locked at sixty frames, the crisp visuals amazed viewers repeatedly during streams. It really is difficult to believe that a game like this clocks in at under half a gigabyte in file size. Factor in that the legendary Nobuo Uematsu contributed his talent to the music and you wonder why this did not start as a console or PC title. The fact that this game looked (and played) great on both mobile and home systems is a testament to the work Cornfox & Bros put in.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. The situation is as follows: you do not have a recent Nintendo console. You do however own a PS4, Xbox One or you game via Steam. That being the case, you need Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas in your library. Honestly, even if you have a Wii or a Wii U, this is a game that you should enjoy on one of these other platforms. Unless you absolutely hate the Zelda franchise, this game will appeal to you. Despite being single player, this is a title your family can enjoy. it is that type of game that can be equally fun to watch and play. That and you might need someone to help you get past some of the puzzles like I did. Having played the game from start to finish and completing it 100%, all I can say is that I cannot wait for the sequel that is now in production. Don't waste your money on DLC; shell out fifteen dollars and get a great game. With ten to twenty hours of total gameplay, Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas is worth every penny.

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