I quite enjoyed Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas, with its old-school Zelda-esque adventure proving both vibrant and charming in design thanks to its colourful landscapes and fun encounters with enemies. Sure, it didn’t have too many original ideas on show and it was a pretty simple experience, but it did enough to makes its top-down journey a worthy one for gamers to go on.
Now, with its sequel Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, the developers have really upped the ante as far as the production values are concerned. Gone is the top-down viewpoint, with the game playing out from a third-person perspective as players explore the vast world and slay all kinds of enemies… kind of like The Legend of Zelda, really. Of course, whilst it’d be easy to consider Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm just another imitator to Zelda’s throne, it offers enough quality to ensure that its perilous escapade is an entertaining one.
Taking place a thousand years before the events of the original game, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm cast players in the role of the very originally named Hero as he looks to vanquish the threat brought upon the world by the villainous Mesmeroth; yhis means finding three Sacred Emblems across the vast seas that lies before him. Whilst I’ll admit it’s hardly the most original of fantasy adventure narratives out there, it’s intriguing enough to keep players engrossed in the tale until it reaches its conclusion. There are a couple of twists to encounter along the way too, some of which took the game in a different direction than I expected given the vibrant theme of the overall adventure.
Much like the original game, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm wears its Zelda-inspirations like a big badge of honour. This means you can expect to hack and slash your way through enemies, explore vast areas that are full of luscious sights, solve puzzles as you trudge through hazardous dungeons, and interact with an array of NPCs in the homely towns during your quest. Of course, whilst those qualities are seen in plenty of other RPG adventures, it has this *vibe* to it here that’ll remind anyone of Nintendo’s famed adventure series from the get-go – plus, your health is counted by hearts, you can use bombs to clear hidden pathways in walls, and there’ll be a sense of familiarity felt in the puzzle-design of the dungeons…
I’m not complaining about these Zelda-like similarities, though – they’re just worth mentioning from the start given how obvious that a lot of them are. There have been a lot of pretenders to the throne as far as The Legend of Zelda is concerned and, more so than not, it is often by cheap imitators that lack any real quality or sense of identity. Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm isn’t like that, with its adventure an entertaining one that still has unique qualities of its own on show that prove it isn’t just a carbon copy.
One of those ideas is the party system, which sees other characters join you on your journey. You’ll dish out commands to your allies as you face off against enemies and in fairness they got me out of more than a few sticky situations when battling multiple foes at once. Sure, it isn’t the most fleshed-out party system that you’ll find in an RPG adventure, but it’s still neat to have a helping hand when in troublesome showdowns.
Combat itself is enjoyable too, albeit a little simple in design. Players are armed with a sword, which is useful for swiping away at enemies up close, and a Caster, which can blast out ranged attacks for when you want to pick off enemies from afar. There’s a decent range of baddies to face off against to ensure that your combat skills are constantly tested, whilst the boss encounters make for some really enjoyable battles where you’ll also need to use your wits in order to survive. It’s good stuff.
My only real problem with combat came with the lack of a lock-on system – something which Zelda fans probably won’t be used to. It can make it a little difficult to keep track of the enemies you’re fighting against, especially when facing off against a big group of them at the same time, and it also made combat lack a sense of finesse. Admittedly, it isn’t a big issue all of the time and in most cases you’ll simply mash away with attacks without having to worry about lining up shots perfectly anyway, but it would have been a nice addition that would have streamlined the combat mechanics a bit for players.
When not in combat, you can expect to spend plenty of time exploring Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm’s vast world and the many islands found across it. A lot of these locales are very open in design to give the player plenty of freedom to uncover them, with all sorts of goodies and side quests available for those that venture off the beaten track. Best of all, it never feels like padding, with no area feeling too big for the sake of it. It’s just a very well-designed world that feels rewarding to explore.
Of course, you’ll also come across an array of creatively designed dungeons, each of which is full of enemies to conquer and puzzles to solve. Whilst I didn’t come across anything that felt too unique when clearing these dungeons, I still had plenty of fun trying to overcome the challenges they put in my path. Plus, they’re the home of the game’s best bosses, with each one a treat to look forward to at the end.
I’d be remiss not to mention how epic exploring Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm’s world feels, with the big world map offering plenty for players to discover as they sail across its wide-open seas. I’m a sucker for a big overworld in an RPG adventure and it certainly delivers that here. Again, it offers a liberating sense of freedom that made it all the more engrossing to explore, all without feeling like unnecessary padding to lengthen the experience out.
Visually, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm certainly looks the part, with its bright and colourful world making for some wonderful sights in-game. The character and enemy design was on point too, with it adopting some familiar but attractive tropes to ensure the folk you meet (or enemies you battle) are always interesting to encounter. It all runs really smoothly throughout too, with no glaring issues popping up on either the Nintendo Switch’s handheld or docked modes. It’s just a really pretty looking game.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm offers an enjoyable adventure that will certainly be appreciated by fans of the Legend of Zelda series. Whilst there’s no denying that it wears it inspirations like a big badge of honour, it also has some of its own unique ideas on show that ensures it isn’t just a carbon copy of Nintendo’s famed franchise. I’d even go as far as saying the more streamlined approach that Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm takes can feel more accessible for players than it does in The Legend of Zelda too, which is always a big plus.
It could be a little lacking in some elements of its design, most notably in combat, but there’s certainly more good than bad to be found on this vibrant adventure. It might not be the most original journey you’ll embark on, but Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm will still offer hours of enjoyment as you uncover its vibrant world.
Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
Publisher: Cornfox & Bros.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch