It goes with out saying that the early months of the Swap noticed the brand new console successfully being outlined as a transportable Breath of the Wild machine that you would additionally perhaps play different video games on in the event you actually wished to. Nonetheless, those that snooped across the eShop may discover some gems that have been actually price a punt, and a kind of early titles was Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas.
Performed from a top-down perspective, Oceanhorn was relatively forthright with how closely it was cribbing from Zelda’s playbook, however it was largely acquired properly as a result of how successfully it emulated Nintendo’s storied franchise. Now, three years later, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Misplaced Realm has seen a launch on Swap, bringing with it the promise of advanced gameplay constructed upon the strengths of the unique. It nonetheless finally stays trapped within the shadow of its clear inspiration, however Oceanhorn 2 nonetheless proves itself to be a properly enrapturing motion sport that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The story sees you assuming the position of a anonymous and mute hero who loves smashing pots (sound acquainted?) simply after he’s granted the rank of Knight by his father. The 2 dwell in a peaceable and quiet village, however the hero’s expertise are quickly known as upon when a airplane comes crashing down in a close-by forest, hotly pursued by a contingent of evil robotic warriors. These warriors are led by none aside from Mesmeroth, an evil warlock who was defeated in a decisive battle in generations previous, and it’s as much as your hero to face as much as the menace by gathering three historical MacGuffins scattered around the globe and ending Mesmeroth off as soon as and for all.
The narrative is tremendous for what it’s, however it’s the type of factor that feels prefer it will get in the way in which of the primary expertise just a bit too a lot. For instance, your companions on this journey have some wonderful voice work that does an incredible job of instilling them with persona, however the traces they really communicate largely include thinly-veiled exposition dumps and passive commentary on mundane objects or enemies within the surroundings. Many instances, then, it looks like the skinny story does not add a lot to the general sport, however neither does it essentially take away from it. The story is simply type of there, appearing as a manner of getting your hero from one level on his quest to the following.
Because the unique Oceanhorn, gameplay has seen an attention-grabbing shift to a way more spectacular third-person motion model that also maintains the gameplay loop of the unique. The core of the expertise is centred round exploring a semi-open world in quest of treasure chests and secrets and techniques, with the occasional enemy encounters or easy puzzles appearing as rewarding distractions. Fight is dealt with a lot akin to the swordplay within the older 3D Zelda releases, though right here, it sadly feels far much less partaking.
For one factor, you don’t have any technique of locking on to the enemy you need to face, apart from when you might have your protect up and expect a strike. As quickly as you press the assault, the lock-on fails and the digicam subsequently returns to its earlier place, which may typically throw you off sufficient to overlook assaults or get hit. It’s not a horrible fight system and it’s straightforward sufficient to become familiar with, however it’s merely off simply sufficient that the majority enemy encounters are a little bit of a slog.
Issues should not helped by your practically ineffective AI companions, who basically simply act as strolling paperweights to sit down on switches or to activate levers. You may order your allies to assault particular enemies, and typically they even just do that, however we had one too many cases the place they evidently forgot what they have been doing within the warmth of battle and determined both to do one thing else or to simply not take part within the struggle any longer. There are occasional transient glimpses, each in fight and in puzzles, the place you possibly can see the potential of getting these AI companions at your command, however that potential sadly goes largely unused.
If you’re in dungeons or simply poking round in one of many overworld sections, you’re certain to return throughout the odd puzzle that dangles an attractive treasure chest or reward simply out of attain. Not often do these rise past the standard ‘bomb the wall’ or ‘mild the torches’ type of conundrums, however they nonetheless introduce some good selection to the gameplay and make development barely extra cerebral than merely marching via dungeons.
A part of the simplicity of those puzzles is little doubt because of the relative shallowness of the hero’s stock, which consists of the essential grappling hook, gun, bombs, and so on. These items are every used properly, and a number of the puzzles require you to make use of them in tandem in some attention-grabbing methods, however these of you with an intensive background with the previous 3D Zelda video games have already seen these puzzles numerous instances earlier than.
If something, that maybe speaks to the biggest difficulty that we had with Oceanhorn 2. It does a incredible job of aping the core ideas of Zelda video games. It has the fight. It has the puzzle design. It has the lighthearted, but semi-serious tone. However, aside from some mild RPG components, Oceanhorn 2 doesn’t actually deliver something new of substance to the desk. Furthermore, it doesn’t execute any of the copied ideas practically in addition to its supply materials.
This doesn’t make it a dangerous expertise by any means, however it does make for one which incessantly feels hamstrung by its personal lack of ambition. There are many attention-grabbing methods wherein different releases have constructed upon the tried-and-tested Zelda method and made it their very own, however Oceanhorn 2 appears content material to easily tick off the packing containers of what individuals like about Wind Waker or Ocarina of Time and to go no additional. The ultimate product, then, could possibly be likened to the generic variant of a preferred cereal. It’s cheaper, it’s just about the identical factor, however that additional little little bit of one thing that it’s lacking is finally what makes it really feel totally inferior to the true deal.
Fortunately, presentation is one space wherein Oceanhorn 2 redeems itself considerably. The world of Gaia is just attractive, with various terrain, foliage, and wildlife making every space a sight to behold. Superior lighting results assist to instil locales with loads of environment, whether or not that’s the shadows in an historical temple or the sunshine filtering via a tree cover, and the animation stays fluid all through. That is all backed by a comparatively laidback soundtrack and the superb voice work talked about earlier, which all combines to make for an expertise that each appears and sounds nice – even when the gameplay doesn’t all the time fulfil its potential.
Oceanhorn 2 is an honest sport, albeit one that does not do sufficient to stand proud of the group. Wonderful presentation and a transparent understanding of the mechanics underlying the Zelda franchise make for a sport that’s satisfying and finally well worth the worth of admission. On the identical time, nevertheless, a slight pervasive shallowness within the varied gameplay methods retains it from ever changing into too partaking of an expertise, because it by no means delves as deep because it may with lots of its concepts. We’d give Oceanhorn 2 a light-weight advice, however with the caveat that you simply would possibly need to look ahead to a sale on this one.
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