Title: Oceanhorn - Monster of Uncharted Seas
Platform: iOS, Windows, Steam

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Action Adventure
Players: Single Player

Written by Bad Demoman 17th March 2015

Oceanhorn is an action adventure game that was originally released on iOS devices by Cornfox & Brothers. Considering all I hear about the iOS platform is pay-to-win games designed to suck as much money from you as possible, it’s quite refreshing to hear about a more conventional adventure game on the platform. So in a way, it's no surprise that this nautical adventure is setting sail for a new port on Steam.

It's difficult to ignore the Legend of Zelda influence in Oceanhorn (much to the apparent chagrin of a large number of commenters on YouTube). I mean, it's an adventure game with dungeons and sailing! It's practically Wind Waker, and must have zero original ideas, right? Well that's most certainly where you'd be wrong. After all, what Legend of Zelda game would have you chasing down a giant steampunk mech monstrosity? As odd and obvious as it may sound, the biggest difference is that it's NOT Legend of Zelda. There is no Triforce and no Princess Zelda. If this was a Zelda title, I'd be expecting Ganondorf to pop out of the titular Oceanhorn the whole game, and when it inevitably happened I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. With an entirely new world not linked to Zelda at all comes new possibilities. There's no need to stick to the old formulas set up by Legend of Zelda.

It's clear something terrible happened in this world, and it’s hinted at by various NPCs slowly over the course of the game, effectively building a sense of discovery.  So while the tales of the Triforce lost any suspense long ago, the Oceanhorn and the world it lives in is genuinely mysterious. Assisting in this feeling of a journey of discovery is the method through which you unlock new areas to explore – you need to find out about them. Whether this comes through a villager mentioning it in passing as an interesting place, or reading about it in the journals of an explorer. Once an island has been heard of, you can set sail in an on-rails manner similar to that of Phantom Hourglass. It's a pretty neat way to handle exploration, but the world itself is hit-and-miss. The visuals are exceptional, having received a fair number of improvements from the iOS version. Considering the iOS version had already went through a fair few improvements itself and was looking pretty good, that's saying a lot. I just wish it had the environments to make use of it all the time. Don't get me wrong, some areas are amazing. The light streaming through the Forest Shrine had me stop for a moment to take it all in. On the other hand, there is an overabundance of dull caves. These muddy areas really don't make use of any of the games beauty, and are depressingly common. Both the alluring and the unpleasant areas share one great quality though, and that would be the soundtrack. Boasting an impressive roster of Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito, as well as Finnish composer Kalle Ylitallo (admittedly less well known, but he seems to be a damn good composer in his own right!), the soundtrack radiates personality and Nobuo Uematsu has claimed it is some of his favourite work of recent years.

Gameplay is where Oceanhorn adheres closest to its legendary inspiration. Following the gameplay style of the top-down Zelda games such as Link to the Past, Oceanhorn still manages to fit a few of its own little touches here and there. Your Link-Look-Alike has within his arsenal a sword and shield, as well as various other trinkets collected throughout the dungeons. Combat mostly follows a pattern of block and attack, a strategy that will work against most every enemy. Even some bosses fall prey to this simple strategy. Enemies’ attacks are generally telegraphed well in advance, giving you ample time to block or even bounce them using your shield. I generally enjoy counter-attacks of any sort in a game, so this small addition to spice up combat even the tiniest bit is well appreciated. Equipment available to you is fairly standard fare, bows and bombs and such. However, I had a lot more fun with the magical abilities on offer. From dropping rocks on your foes heads, to even launching a miniature black hole at them. Puzzles will make use of both equipment and magic, but are generally fairly simple. None are complicated enough to have you thinking for too long, and block puzzles will become your bread and butter. Defeating your enemies and accomplishing achievements (slay 10 enemies in a certain way, etc.) will award you with experience points that will unlock new abilities, such as shooting beams from your sword or even just sailing faster. Overall, the gameplay emulates Zelda almost to a tee, but it's not quite as good. After all, Nintendo have been perfecting it for years. It's a difficult style to perfectly mimic.

Oceanhorn will inevitably draw comparisons to Legend of Zelda. It's inevitable, and a well-founded comparison. While it might not quite match Zelda, I think Oceanhorn makes it's own place for certain. And even if there are some that will insist it is a copycat, at least Cornfox & Brothers picked a great series to draw from. I eagerly anticipate what they will do in the future, as I'd love to see them deviate even further from their inspirations and really delve into and explore their ideas further, as I have gleefully explored their charming little world.


Warm, colourful visuals,

Soundtrack bursting with personality,

Great sense of exploration and discovery.


May be too similar to Zelda,

Darker areas don't make use of visuals.

Final Verdict,
Oceanhorn sails seven seas with a 7/10.

Written by,
Bad Demoman

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