Game: Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
Genre: Action, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Apple Arcade)
Developer|Publisher: Cornfox & Bros.
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Release Date: October 28th 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Cornfox & Bros.
A Leap Forward
I find it quite admirable of a developer to attempt to take on the high and mighty Zelda series. The Original Oceanhorn was a fine little isometric adventure game released on several systems including Nintendo Switch. It was a cute little game filled with all the wonder and adventure feels that you may get while playing a Zelda game. When I saw footage of the sequel I was kinda blown away. The jump from the first game to the second felt like moving across a console generation.
I first got to try Oceanhorn 2 at one of the iPhone stands in John Lewis (a retailer in the UK) over a year ago. I picked up one of the shiny new iPhones and got to mess around a little with the game, even if I did have to use touch controls. My main takeaway from the the experience was: “this game looks great but I want to play it on Switch with buttons and not through Apple Arcade!” Well, sometimes wishes do come true as Oceanhorn 2 somewhat shadow dropped onto the system at the end of October.
Become the Hero of Gaia
You play a young chap who has just been made a Knight. Adventure has beckoned and the evil Warlock Mesmeroth and his Dark Army have come to cause all sorts of bother. It’s up to the Knight and his band of buddies to hunt down a few shiny orbs whilst uniting the inhabitants of Gaia to set things right.
If you haven’t played the first game don’t worry as this one is set thousands of years before. The story is a little too similar to the Zelda series. Your hero doesn’t even talk, opting to stick to the language of grunts when battling baddies and expressions of delight when he opens a chest. In fairness how happy your character gets opening a chest did make my day. Despite the Knights lack of speech the rest of the cast has voice acting which is pretty good quality. You’ll spend many sections of the game running around with some buddies in tow, usually a girl and a robot, both of whom will give running commentary on the areas you explore and even give light hints on some of the puzzles. You can give them actions to help you solve puzzles and they will assist you in combat. Sometimes though I found my robot pal opted to just stand there instead of contributing to the battle. I guess like a real friendship you like having them around but sometimes they can be a bit of a pain and not pay for their half of the dinner.
Oceanhorn 2 does a great job pointing you to your next objective thanks to a marker and a little mini map. The layout of the game has you visiting a variety of locales which you’re able to explore looking for chests, talking to NPCs and dispatching enemies for experience points and money to spend in the vending machines dotted about. It’s easy to get distracted by the exploration but when you do decide to tackle the main quest you encounter various dungeons with light puzzle elements and new items to discover, to aid you in your quest like a gun that shoots various elemental bullets. Elements which will also help you solve puzzles moving forward.
The game will occasionally mix things up, with epic boss fights and the chance to ride a few vehicles. It all feels “by the numbers” but there’s a certain charm to the games design that keeps you hooked. When messing around in the world of Gaia boredom is a feeling that never popped into my head.
Vast Open Areas
Graphically Oceanhorn 2 is beautiful with a few minor hitches. The world of Gaia is huge, vast and open. I loved running around in these large open areas looking for treasures or shooting apples from trees in order to replenish my health. It’s small details like these that really make the game shine over the competition. I often had to pull myself away from exploring the areas and remind myself to focus on the campaign. It’s a nice problem to have in a game, feeling comfortable exploring the world and not needing to rush to complete the story.
You’ll also visit various towns populated by humans or other weird human animal hybrid species. As someone who’s a big fan of owls I found the human/owl folk a little jarring. But I’m weird. The game performed well in TV and handheld mode. Though in TV mode I did encounter the odd graphical hitch here and there but it was never enough to take me out of the experience.
The main niggle I had with the game was the combat. When a baddy appears you sort of automatically target them as opposed to pressing a button to lock on. Problem is the Knight only locks on when he feels like it, making the sword play feel more free form. You do get a shield to help you block. The game appears to want you to block at the right moment to stagger enemies, but it was hard to predict and so I don’t think this functioned the way it was probably intended. I spent most battles slashing the sword a few times, rolling away and repeating which turned encounters into a bit of bore rather than a enjoyable experience. Things got even more messy when more than one enemy was on the screen at once. Fortunately, the game makes up for this with the combat being balanced with exploration and puzzle sections. The boss battles I found were much more bearable than combat with enemies since these usually incorporated light puzzle elements.
Set Sail for Adventure
Oceanhorn 2 is an ambitious step up from the first game in the series. While many will compare the game to Nintendo’s hallmark series. Oceanhorn 2 bravely throws it’s hat into the ring to enter the fray. While there are rough edges to its combat it was the small little things about this game that overall kept me engaged.
Exploration is fun and the world is beautiful, it’s a title filled with many surprises. A delightful adventure that I hope gamers will enjoy as much as I did.
Final Verdict: I like it a lot
Playing on my iPad love it but I’m stuck riding the hovercrafet don’t know how to steer it.