Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas has finally found its natural home on Nintendo Switch. Our review:
OK, here’s the rub. Oceanhorn, if you haven’t played it already, will overwhelmingly remind you of a certain video game that may be particularly famous for being connected to the system of which I’m reviewing said game. It’s almost illegal how similar it is and yet here it is, on the same console without a blink of an eye from those enabling folk at Nintendo. It’s rather funny really how they can both co-exist on the same system as if we’re not supposed to notice. However, I’m going to start and finish this review without mentioning ‘that’ game and review Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted seas on its own merits, because it has plenty.
Oceanhorn is a game that I became first familiar with on the PS4. After spending a fair amount of time looking for a neat little RPG to get my teeth into, this gorgeously presented title reared its head and I really quite enjoyed my time with it. Now it’s appeared on Nintendo Switch and having this game available to me at any moment has been a joy. Yes, it was also released for PS Vita, but I never played it on there so my first experience of portable Oceanhorn has been on Ninty’s hybrid and I’m really happy to say it’s a near perfect port of an already superb title.
There’s probably an argument to be made that Oceanhorn belongs on Nintendo Switch, and at first you’d be forgiven for thinking that this game was made by Nintendo themselves. The art style, the formula has the House of Mario’s fingerprints all over it and there’s absolutely no shame in that when the whole package is thrown together this well.
You play as a young boy on a remote island who has been left to fend for himself by his absent parents and is made to travel across his ‘kingdom’ to search for relics in order to defeat Oceanhorn, the monster who lives below the ocean and is ready at any moment to damn near destroy the world.
Sure, the story isn’t particularly anything original, you’re not going to see adaptations of its lore anytime soon (though I do have it on good authority fan fiction does exist out here. Have a guess who he meets?), it’s more or less about just accepting that you’ve more or less heard it all before but you still crack on regardless because the world you’re placed in is just so charming, and ripe for exploration.
How does it run on Nintendo Switch? Well, flawlessly. The game is gorgeous, and its isometric viewpoint allows you to see more or less all of the islands you find yourself on at once, which can help you in terms of navigation. When the system is docked the full 60fps 1080p goodness leaps off the TV, in handheld mode the colours are vibrant and a joy to behold. I saw absolutely no signs of framerate issues, docked or undocked. Technically, the game soars and without question the most definitive version of the game I’ve seen thus far.
The gameplay though is where Oceanhorn really comes into its own. Yes, you instantly feel like you’ve played through similar games before, with searches for treasure chests that will provide you with shields, swords, health and money to spend on bombs and the like, but Oceanhorn certainly carves out a game for itself by simply being so charming. You’ll face some dastardly enemies – some with handy skulls on their backs so you’re very much aware they are bad things that must be immediately eliminated – and the hacking and slashing feels smooth and slick, feeling every whack of your sword. As you progress through the game you’ll discover weaponry for your boat that you use to navigate to different islands (shhh). The game also throws in a fair bout of hefty puzzles that will certainly have you scratching your head, there’s plenty for you to be getting on with as you meet a smorgasbord of characters across each island that can help you in the your quest. Some can’t, you just need to find the ones that can. It’s a hell of a time killer in that sense, you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring if you want to power through Oceanhorn, and it’s a credit to the developers Cornfox+Bros that throughout the 10+hour story you never really feel bored, though it can be frustrating. If you’re a fan of exploration adventure titles you can’t really go wrong, but more casual players may find the constant wondering irk after a while.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a great game, and a solid addition to the Switch line-up. I was a champion of ports at the system’s reveal, with the change of playing these games on the go and on my TV the charm of the console overall, and Oceanhorn is a title which really benefits from letting you simply carry on with the game when you’re not at home. You’re going to be tested with the puzzles and occasionally get annoyed that you can’t move past certain areas so easily, but if you’re familiar with the genre this isn’t going to bother you.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas seems to have found its rightful place on Nintendo Switch and I’m delighted I can add it to my collection on the system.
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is available now on iOS, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PSVita, Android, Xbox One and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For more information on how review or score games, please see our review policy.