Oceanhorn is an action-RPG that borrows heavily from the Nintendo classic, Legend of Zelda. Collect upgrades, solve puzzles, and save the day. It ain't original, but it's a boatload of fun, and polished to a high sheen.
Unfortunately, if you're waiting with bated breath for Nintendo to unleash it's stable game classics for iOS, you're breath is likely to be abated for a long time. Fortunately, even though Nintendo doesn't want your money, there are lots of developers who do, and are willing to duplicate as much of the original gaming experiences as possible without getting sued. Enter Oceanhorn; a shameless but fantastic emulation of the gaming classic, The Legend of Zelda.
Armed with a sword and shield, your protagonist will travel from island to island to find his father, and collect the sacred emblems in order to save the land of Arcadia from the dark energy that has corrupted it. This is no leisurely quest, however. You will be relentlessly pursued by the Oceanhorn, so step lively. Sound familiar? Whether it does or not, the formula works, and Oceanhorn is a blast to play in spite of its lack of originality. The enemies are varied and will require different magic and combat strategies to defeat (especially the bosses), and you will also find yourselves solving puzzles along the way. The puzzles are fairly similar to what you'll find in console games, but they're still a pleasant diversion from running/sailing/fighting, and I found myself enjoying them. In addition to the main storyline, there are also a number of side quests, some of which are enjoyable, some of which are not. Oceanhorn will provide 10-15 solid hours of gameplay, and also supports iOS 7 controllers and Game Center Achievements.
Oceanhorn is a beautiful game. If you happen to own a device with a retina display, it's flat-out gorgeous. The game is played from a 3rd person, isometric perspective (looking down from a position above your character, and slightly to the left), which really brings the environments to life. The outside areas are lush, the dungeons creepy, and the monsters creative and varied. All-in-all, a visual feast.
Oceanhorn's soundtrack is first-rate. If it sounds a bit familiar to you, it's probably because it was composed by the legendary composers, Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito, both of which have previously worked on very high profile Japanese video games. It's nice to see a game with such high production values not skimp on the audio. It's easily as good as the rest of the game.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
No ads, no IAPs. Refreshing...
If you enjoy action adventure games, then you should have already downloaded Oceanhorn and played it through a few times by now. If you haven't, stop what you're doing and buy this game. Sure, it's a premium-priced game ($8.99), but it's easily worth that, and more. Until Nintendo realizes how much money they're flushing down the toilet by not porting their games to iOS, this is as close as we're going to get to a legitimate Zelda experience on our iPads/iPhones/iPods.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - It's a beautiful game that especially shines on retina devices. Sound: - 5 - A soundtrack that's as good as the rest of the game. Controls: - 4 - As good as you're going to get with virtual controls on a touch screen. Gameplay: - 5 - A highly enjoyable action adventure game, that will hold your attention throughout its 10-15 hours of content.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Fighting monsters gives experience, which is necessary to level-up so fight everything! The game saves as you play, but if you die, you will respawn at the last checkpoint so activate them immediately when seen. Objects that aren't destroyed when thrown can be used to activate switches.