Review: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – PS Vita (9/10)

Platform: PS VitaPublisher: FDG EntertainmentGenre: Action RPG
Release Date: May 17, 2017 May 17, 2017

Developed by Cornfox & Bros. and published by FDG Entertainment, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas was first released for iOS in November 2013, following versions for PC, PS4, XBox One and Android.

After having received many requests from players asking for Oceanhorn on the PS Vita, FDG Entertainment did a Twitter Poll on September 15, 2016 if they should port Oceanhorn to the PS Vita. The feedback was amazing: 76% of the 4,491 participants voted for yes which led them to officially announce the PS Vita version on September 22, 2016.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas describes itself as a love letter to favorite games from the past, combining action and puzzle elements from Zelda games with the emotional journey of the Final Fantasy and Mana series. The game’s soundtrack is composed by Kalle Ylitalo, Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito.

Story

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

The game tells the story of Oceanhorn, a monster from the depths of time, that once appeared at the islands of Uncharted Seas. Three sacred emblems have disappeared at the same time and it’s believed that it had to do something with Oceanhorn.

To unravel the mystery of Oceanhorn and to find out what happened to your missing father, you have to explore the islands of Uncharted Seas. On your adventure, you will visit islands full monsters and ancient treasures to hopefully find the three sacred emblems.

Gameplay

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

The adventure begins at Hermit’s Island where you first have to find your father’s sword and shield. You also learn the basic controls of the game, like fighting monsters, dashing, and picking up objects to throw them on enemies. Speaking of objects, you can nearly pick up anything, like pots, stones, boxes, or skulls. If you destroy objects or bushes, useful items like hearts or weapeon refills will be revealed.

Defeating enemies gets you either money, items or crystals that give you experience points. Once you have enough experience points, your character automatically levels up and becomes stronger. Several chests can be found on the islands, which contain treasures, keys, spells or items. The treasures grant you extra money or expierence points while keys are needed to open doors or gates to access new areas of an island.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

Your father’s notebook is like the game’s log book where you see the character stats, your items, the challenges on an island and the latest conversation you had. The last feature is quite useful when you are unsure what to do next. Here you also can rewatch the already seen cutscenes for further clues or hints.

New islands will be unlocked when you talk to new characters or find messages with the name of an island. This means that it’s always important that you speak with everyone you see and to check the surroundings. Basically, the game’s focus is big on exploration and puzzle solving.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

First puzzles are like moving chests or throwing stones on switches that doors will open. Later puzzles become more challenging but you always can find notes or conversations that give you some clues. The combination of objects and spells is needed later as well.

While you explore the islands, you get new weapons and learn new spells which help you on your ongoing journey. Traveling between the islands is done by boat which is a nice feature as during the trip, you can fight sea monsters or shoot down objects on the sea. Later in the game, fishing becomes available which is a neat mini-game.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

The game’s controls are very accurate and the combination of buttons and touchscreen is done really well. Difficulty is ballanced and monsters vary on the islands, depending on the setting and the surroundings. You also will encounter some boss fights that always begin with a cut-scene. On each island, there are several checkpoints where you restart once you should have died. The game saves automatically at various locations, no manual saving is needed.

I absolutely enjoyed playing Oceanhorn on the PS Vita as it takes some of the best features from other games and combines it into a beautifully crafted exploration adventure. During my 15 hour playthrough, I felt that the game got better and better, due to the newly introduced weapons, skills and puzzles. The only complain I had is that sometimes, the object is not clear and you have to search for clues on how to proceed. But this is complaining on a very high level.

Loading times within the game are very quick, only at the beginning, it needs some time to start.

Graphics

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas looks awesome on the PS Vita and is technically amazing. The game runs absolutely smoothly on the handheld, only once I experienced a small framerate drop on an island with lots of enemies on the screen.

Cutscenes are looking beautiful as well and are all done with in-game graphics. Oceanhorn feels like a Nintendo game on the PS Vita, thanks to it’s high technical quality.

Sound

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted PS Vita

The game’s soundtrack is great as well which does not surprise as it’s written by famous composers Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito. The in-game cutscenes feature some some good voice acting.

Conclusion

Oceanhorn on the PS Vita is a feast for the eyes and technically amazing. Exploring the islands of Uncharted Seas is so enjoyable and the game offers lots of content for your money. Oceanhorn feels like a Nintendo game on the PS Vita that every PS Vita owner should have. Highly recommended.

PS Vita Gameplay:

 

The review was written and provided by Michael. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.

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