16/12/2020

⚔️๐Ÿ›ก️ Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm | Review | Nintendo Switch | "A solid title that just misses the mark, for me" ⚔️๐Ÿ›ก️ @cornfox #IndieGames #GameDev

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Game Title: Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm

Platform Reviewed: Switch

Rating: 6.5/10

I’m always dubious about mobile ports to the Switch, having been burned by some pretty lazy examples in the past. With Oceanhorn 2, however, I was so taken by the trailer that I had to have a crack at it, as I fancied an open-world adventure that I could play on the move (well…in bed). 

Whilst the game is pretty, runs well and appears to tick all the boxes, it, unfortunately, felt a touch bland and as such, I couldn’t get fully hips deep in the experience.

Set an entire millennia before the original, you play a youthful knight who has to travel the land uniting different races in a light-fantasy landscape for the eventual battle against the evil Mesmeroth and his army.

The game owes a huge debt to Zelda: Breath of the Wild in its main mechanics, design and tone to the point that it could almost be a third-party spin-off title. That said, Zelda: BOTW is a pretty good game and so if you are going to take heavy inspiration, it’s not a bad way to go. 

Although the game is ‘open-world’ in that you can travel to the different locations in relative freedom, there is a definitely a strong sense of linearity to the proceedings and the automated jump – you can leap onto most things that are chest-high – ensures that you can’t venture too far off the beaten track. A

s well as bushes that can be chopped to reveal hearts and ammo, also taken from Zelda is a stamina bar which, to be honest, is more of an irritating hindrance as opposed to a tact-inducing mechanic as it drains so fast, meaning that running in the game is only possible for a few steps before your character is cream-crackered, it slows the game down somewhat.

Consisting of a mix of almost set-piece like puzzle sections and melee / ranged combat, the grey-matter testing moments are more fun than the fighting segments, this is down to the fact that each fight feels random and a bit ‘thrashy’. Enemies attack suddenly, without warning and apparently no pattern. What this means is that each fight has you just blocking until you are attacked and then getting a swipe in. 

It takes away the charm of learning individual enemy styles and crafting your own patterns. Your caster (firearm) is much more useful in the puzzle sections due to the different types of ammo and so your sword is the most practical form of attack in standard combat. This doesn’t apply to the boss fights, however, which are impressive and fun to take on. 

I do like how some of the puzzles are a little obscure, meaning that you can hit a progress wall for a while and work out how to proceed but the lack of freedom of movement does feel a shame when the visuals are so rich and imagined routes and secrets are so tantalisingly out of scope due to the movement limitations. There’s also a feature whereby you can direct your companions to assist with puzzles but this only comes into play in very specific moments, still, it adds an extra layer of depth to some sections.

In terms of audio, the game has a really jaunty sensibility to it which doesn’t grate but also doesn’t stick in the mind. It’s this sense of everything being ‘fine’ that was my main takeaway from Oceanhorn 2, visually it’s pretty and perfectly captured and the fundamental mechanics are all there but nothing stands out and as I dipped further into the game, opening up the world and finding out more about the characters and history, I just couldn’t get engaged in what was happening. 

This is a very impressive port of a game originally released on mobile platforms but it feels too generic in tone and playability to really suck me in. 

If you are a fan of adventures with a lighter theme and would prefer a perhaps more focused style of gameplay with simplified combat, you’ll get more out of Oceanhorn 2 than I did. Maybe it’s just my mood or perhaps I’m drawn to darker adventures but this was a title I just couldn’t click with.

6.5/10

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