Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm follows the story of a mute hero who is trying to save hundreds from calamity. Who just so happens to enjoy smashing pots. Does this sound familiar? To fans of the original Oceanhorn game, this is a must play. It switches the top-down perspective of the first game to an evolved Breath of the Wild-esque style. Although the inspirations behind Oceanhorn are still hidden, certain elements of the franchise glisten with familiarity to any Zelda fan.
From Apple arcade to Nintendo Switch
Oceanhorn 2 was released as an Apple arcade exclusive in 2019, but came to Switch in 2020. The release to Apple was received poorly by fans and a lot of struggles were faced regarding control and glitches. These were resolved when it came to Switch and fans were able to enjoy Oceanhorn to it’s full potential. I found the controls a little tricky when I first picked it up. The lack of any jump button caused my natural instinct with an action adventure game to reset. After spending a while getting used to these controls you realize how basic they are and how easy they are to wrap your head round.
Stunning sound design
The game has a wonderful soundtrack, with different music for each area you discover. Boss battles are kept tense with high strung music, and curiosity is reflected with different sound effects. The narration is fully voiced and each character engages in charming dialogue with our hero. Although there is a lot of narration from characters they often say mundane facts about the surrounding area or enemies. With such a plot heavy story line this lets the game down. There is so much which could be explored but is reflected with little engagement from NPCs.
When it comes to combat the controls are simple. A sort of slash, slash, block, which you’d find in most action adventures. You have to quickly learn attack patterns in order to protect yourself, but most attacks are easily dodged. There is no lock-on approach to combat which is frustrating when you’re facing several enemies at once. You raise your shield when expecting an attack but as soon as it’s dropped your camera returns to its original position. What’s even more frustrating is how useless your party members act around enemies. Delivering very occasional pointless hits, you can order your companions to attack specific enemies but they will hardly ever complete this objective.
You will encounter a number of different puzzles as you discover more of the map but to any fans of the older Zelda games you will have seen these countless times before. There is a minimal amount of guidance when it comes to these challenges but the simplicity allows anyone to be able to understand the concept. There are enough clues around to understand what needs to be done, you just have to look for them. Once again, members of your party can help to complete these but will usually be somewhat useless unless standing on a button or pulling a lever. You will probably just forget they are even aiding your adventure by the end of the game.
The beautiful world of Gaia
The world of Gaia is undoubtedly Oceanhorn’s best selling point. Although your hero is led through the world with simple tasks, you still get to take in the world around you. Animation and graphics remain fluid throughout game play. Alongside the sound design mentioned earlier the game looks and sounds wonderful.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, Oceanhorn lacks in something to make it stand out to its very popular competitors. It has the basic function of an action adventure, the combat, the puzzles, the rewards hidden in chests held just out of reach, yet something lacks. Even the story isn’t quite enough. It’s nothing we haven’t experienced before.
If you are looking for a game similar to Breath of the Wild but with a smaller price tag, it will most certainly fill your needs. I definitely see myself picking this game up again in the near future. But if you’re looking for an entirely new experience, keep searching. Going into this after playing the first Oceanhorn game would definitely help your experience since you know what to expect.