By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on September 6th, 2016 on Xbox One - Also available on Steam, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PS VITA, and iOS
Developer: FDG Entertainment Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Time and time again the gaming world is plagued or blessed with clones of classics. From cheap imitations to bona-fide spiritual successors, many devs have taken a swing at either cashing in on the classics or drawing inspiration from them. Many "clones" come in the form of mobile downloads, as they require little to no marketing yet can net people some easy ad revenue just by way of nostalgia. Oceanhorn is a title that too got its start on a mobile platform, specifically iOS. Having just been released on Xbox One, I can without a doubt tell you this is no cheap imitation. At first glance, it is easy to see that The Legend of Zelda series is a clear inspiration, but the more you play you will realize that Oceanhorns level of quality and appreciation of the subject matter makes it a standout game.
Having been originally launched on iOS, Oceanhorn is that much more impressive. As a Windwaker-esque title, you are in for one heck of an adventure. It’s abundantly clear early on that this game does everything that a TLoZ game should do like solid combat and puzzles while maintaining whimsical exploration. But what really pulls through is where it pushes its own boundaries, bringing to the table a strong narrative that is backed by fully voiced scenes and narrations (all of which are solidly acted out.) Packed with lush vibrant landscapes, my hours of exploration were easy on the eyes, as well as the ears. The soundtrack is incredibly impressive, hitting the right notes at the right times. From tunes that embody mystery and wonder, or even dread and horror, the songs chime in at just the right moment to tie everything together.
Oceanhorn is just really easy to love. It’s a touch more on the casual side in comparison than a Zelda game would be, but considering its mobile roots it is completely understandable. It is not to say that it does not work in the titles favor, because it totally does. Aside from some cheap tactics on the last boss, I was never once stressed out during my playthrough, and that is without a doubt due to the lax nature at hand. As I said before, the game has that magical, whimsical feel and it really just drives the pacing as a whole. Oceanhorn has a much stronger narrative than I would have expected in a title of this nature, and it is truly hard to believe a game of this quality originated from a mobile app store. Fans of old-school action adventure will find an easy buy in this title, one they surely will not regret. Oceanhorn is a lighthearted, high quality, and memorable experience that will make fans of The Legend of Zelda series more than at home and excite them for a sequel like it did me.
NINTENDO SWITCH NOTES:
A good game is one that can stand the test of time, coming out on the other side strong and renowned as ever. Oceanhorn is a great game by many merits, that last notion included. Now out on the Nintendo Switch, it is finally on a console from the family of which its clear inspirations are home to. Being a Zelda-esque game, Oceanhorn comes to a platform that is host to a Game of the Year contender, that being Breath of the Wild. Though similar in essence, the two are wildly different iterations of the genre. While BotW is a massive, in depth adventure title, Oceanhorn is smaller scale, being a bit more casual on approach. It is still a gorgeous game to look at on the Switch, running smooth and popping with colors. While I preferred the controls on my Xbox One playthrough, it still handles pretty solid on the Switch, though I did notice my character movements were not as accurate, resulting in a lot of bridges having to be re-walked when I fell off from time to time. All in all though, it is a great time to pick it up if you have not already played through it on one of its many other platform releases. Though it’s not the first time it has gone mobile, it certainly has to be the best, fitting right at home on the Switch.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 9/10
-Minor Combat Issues