Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
Publisher: Cornfox & Bros.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Adventure, Action, Role-Playing
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: October 28, 2020 (Worldwide)
When Oceanhorn first stepped onto the gaming scene in 2013 with Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas, developer Cornfox & Bros. first brought it to iOS devices.
As a 2D adventure game very similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, in design, gameplay and story-telling, Oceanhorn gained itself a following and has made its way to various platforms since, including the Nintendo Switch.
Such glowing appreciation also helped Oceanhorn go from being a singular game into a series that swaps 2D for 3D with Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm and after it’s initial release on Apple Arcade in September 2019, the time has come to experience a brand new Zelda-like game on Switch, has arrived.
Just because there is a 2 in the title, don’t go thinking this is a direct sequel to Monster of Uncharted Seas. Instead of this being a continued adventure with an older version of the boy protagonist, Knights of the Lost Realm takes players back in time to a time where Gaia flourished but is on the verge of ruin thanks to the warlock Mesmeroth and his ruthless Dark Army.
An unnamed hero must finish his training and embark on a large scale adventure, in a bid to unite the races and stand as one against this overwhelming threat, only this time, our hero is not alone. During his travels, he will be joined by Trin, Gen and even Master Mayfair at various points. Can this band of misfits accomplish the seemingly impossible and achieve victory, or will all be lost thanks to Mesmeroth and Archimedes? There’s only one way to find out.
As a role-playing adventure game, the easiest game to compare Oceanhorn 2 to, would, of course, be The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It utilises many troupes Zelda fans have come to love over the years, such as obtaining interesting new items, boss battles against massive formidable beasts, having to get a legendary sword and navigating unusual, but interesting dungeons, whilst at the same time, still uses a level system, dependant on killing enemies and completing challenges to acquire experience points.
Pretty much everything that worked wonderfully the first time around in the first game, has made a welcome return, with some other features fleshed out and improved on, case in point, your protagonist is now no longer alone. They can be joined in battle by others and receive their add against complicated enemies, but they can also be used to solve certain puzzles with the right instructions.
Exploration is still a major force at play, with plenty being available for players to see and do, just don’t go expecting to be able to sprint everywhere for as long as you wish as there is a stamina bar to abide by and it can be quite limiting.
When not running wild and discovering secret areas where players can partake in special boss battles against escaped prisoners, there are a variety of dungeons to venture through and a whole host of puzzles to solve, most of which will require the use of the hero’s Caster Gun.
The caster gun is a projectile-based weapon used for firing regular bullets and magical spells with one healing your health, another firing a fire spell, one being an ice-based spell useful for creating platforms on water, or freezing enemies and one that is eclectic.
Every spell is useful in their own right and can be used in a variety of ways, and the same can be said when in battle as well, since when surrounded, players can freeze pesky enemies and bosses and swiftly deal some immense damage in no time at all.
In short, Oceanhorn 2 utilises a lot of the standard adventure gameplay gimmicks players are used to, including collecting from harvest points in an open-world setting, so it’s insanely easy to pick up in an instance.
Only this time, this “Zelda” game equips Link with a useful firearm and for those who hated the boat segments in the last game, there’s not an awful lot of it this time around. Instead, we have quick travel points in the form of portals and the use of an aeroplane.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Being an adventure game of this scale, while it is true there are no secondary modes for players to play through, the main campaign itself is rather content-packed. Just trying to see and do everything, can easily put players over the 20 hour mark thanks to side quests, ruthless prisoners to hunt down, lots of treasure chests to find and open and of course, pieces of heart containers to locate.
It’s all standard stuff, including side quests but it’s all worthwhile content deserving of being experienced. Players are bound to have an enjoyable time, regardless of whether they’re trying to locate all 19 daggers, complete every in-game challenge or just trying to locate down every bloodstone.
Having previously enjoyed Kalle Ylitalo’s compositions for the first Oceanhorn game, I had a general idea as to what to expect from this prequel and I wasn’t disappointed. The soundtrack is great and helps to make the world of Gaia feel lively.
From bird noises to the battle sound effects and even the voice acting, the dev team behind Oceanhorn 2 really strived to make sure this is a game that shines on all fronts and I can proudly say they have achieved just that.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Developed with Unreal Engine 4, Oceanhorn 2 is an absolutely gorgeous game to look at. The character designs are interesting (Mesmeroth has never looked better), the world of Gaia is diverse, energetic, surreal and immersive. It’s a shame the underwater segments aren’t as lavish, but still enjoyable nonetheless.
As for the game’s design style, going from 2D to 3D, Oceanhorn 2 looks and feels very similar to Breath of the Wild, but with strong hints of Skyward Sword, especially when you consider the game’s item wheel for changing your loadout, all of which come together very nicely to make an incredibly beautiful game.
With regards to performance, while for the most part Oceanhorn 2 runs perfectly well on Switch, there are instances of slowdown when entering new locations and known bugs that can cause the screen to go black and bugs where the player can get stuck in walls and barrels, with no means of escape, except for opting to retreat to a safe place and continuing from there.
Being a game set 1,000 years before the first instalment, I would say it is important that players have experienced the first Oceanhorn game before playing Oceanhorn 2, or at least consider playing it after the fact.
There are so many ways the two games tie in together and it’s not just because they share the same Oceanhorn title or that the living fortress Oceanhorn makes an appearance in both games, but whereas players in the first game must do battle on the ruins of the White City, in this prequel, they get to walk through the city and experience all it has to offer.
You get to meet some of the people that call it home. See what sort of life people had there. In a way, this fact makes Oceanhorn 2 the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, to Oceanhorn 1’s Breath of the Wild, except it’s a 1,000 year difference instead of 100.
It’s no secret that Oceanhorn feels like a game taking inspiration from Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, but as a series, these games are really coming into their own with each instalment and I am loving the direction they are going in. I hope there is a third game and that Oceanhorn doesn’t suddenly end up with a convoluted timeline.
Oceanhorn games are more than just another Zelda-like, they can be just as fun and impressive as the Zelda games that inspire them and Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm is no exception. It’s a game well worth the wait and even with a few bugs, it is well worth its price tag and a great game to play while the wait for Breath of the Wild’s sequel continues.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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