[Review] Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
  • Publisher: Cornfox & Bros.
  • Release Date: 28/10/2020
  • Price: £29.99 / $29.99
  • Review code provided by Cornfox & Bros.

Introducing: The Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm Switch Review


Being inspired by a game or game series and showing little touches, little nods towards the aforementioned title in your own game is absolutely fine and the highest form of flattery. Having a protagonist that resembles the hero from the source material that inspired you, from movement to tunic, all the way to grunts of “tyuk” and “hya” is something else altogether. Then there is the claw-like shooter of hooks and overarching quest to retrieve the three sigils of the goddesses that just so happen to be red, blue and green medallions. Din, Nayrue and Faroe eat your godlike hearts out!!

Imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Dear baby!!, Oceanhorn 2 fawns with the best of them.

What’s the story, morning glory?


Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm (HOI Oceanhorn 2) begins with the game’s narrator explaining that this story has already happened and the kingdom has already fallen, that the preceding tale is nout more than a living recollection of these events.

In all honesty, the story of Oceanhorn is one of the more confusing aspects of the game and right up to and including its conclusion, I wasn’t all to sure what was happening. I certainly never felt invested in the characters or cared for their wellbeing or fate. Which is a crying shame as the game’s main cast are all wonderfully voice acted which I feel that The Cornfox Bros. must be lauded for. It’s just a shame that they didn’t have a more likeable and interesting group of miscreants to become attached too. While I alluded earlier about the similarities between an iconic series earlier, alas the story fails to capture that magic in the same way.

Are you aroused at sea as well? I’ve got the Oceanhorn 2


Oceanhorn 2 does a lot of things, some well, some less so. The overall sense of a Zelda-like experience is strong and resonates deeply. While the initial entry into the Oceanhorn series was an almost top-down, isometric 2.5D experience, Oceanhorn 2 is a full-blown 3D adventure that sees out raggedy gang traverse the land, sea, and sky, as well as repairing and subsequently riding a train to boot. There’s a good deal of variety in the locales and the developers should be commended for creating a compelling game world.  The enemy variations may be lacking, but overall a bright and vibrant set of environments has been crafted that keeps the game fresh and interesting as you move through this 12-hour adventure.

Breath of the Wild aside, 3D Zelda titles (and 2D ones for that matter) always strongly utilised a plethora of puzzles to keep your wits about you and The Legend of Zelda: Oceanhorn 2 is no different, with plenty of torches, levers and targets present in both the overworld and the game’s dungeons. For the most part, they’re all quite straightforward to work out but the occasional overly obtuse offering had me scratching my head for some time before trial and error or sheer luck prevailed.

The Legend of Oceanhorn 2


I fully intended to judge Oceanhorn 2 based off of its own merits and not continuously compare it to The Adventures of Link, however as the game progressed, I felt the influences more and more. Be it the medallions plucked straight from the pages of Ocarina of Time, the boating sections that borrow so much from Wind Waker or the over-reliance on orb based puzzles later in the game, ala Twilight Princess. The very nature of Oceanhorn’s outdoor adventuring vibe got me thinking about Skyward Sword a lot too. Admittedly, I was thinking about how great it would be to be playing it on my Nintendo Switch, with traditional controls. Regardless, Oceanhorn sent my realm of thought there…

Going back to the varied travel systems I touched upon earlier, it feels important to mention that, while certainly some of the more visually impressive sections of the game – with opulent horizons illuminated by luminescent suns and blue skies punctured by tropical treetops – they are also the most painfully boring sections of not just this game, but any game I’ve played in recent memory.

Literally, nothing happens. Be it on the boat or aboard an aeroplane, you simply use the 360° circular compass system to point your vessel towards the location you wish to travel to and hold forward. There are no enemies, no weather hazards, just blue seas/skies. Wind Waker, it is not! Aside from the odd monster, it would have been equally appreciated to have had an auto travel system in place so as to just plot a course and catch up on some Parks and Recreation while you waited for the journey to conclude.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any interesting islands to discover, au contraire mon amis. There are numerous secrets littered around the ocean. Hey, do you like heart pieces? They’re often a boon for discovering a new little island.

He’s not the Hero of Time, he’s a very naughty boy!


Oceanhorn 2 performs perfectly cromulently on Nintendo Switch. The worlds are lush and vibrant and colours pop on-screen in both docked and handheld. For the most part, the game runs well and, aside from a few little niggles, was an almost faultless experience. Visually the little jarring texture tears never impacted on performance, but I did have to hard reset the game during the Water temple as I got stuck in a vent trying to retrieve a golden sphere and couldn’t get out. Yes, this game has a water temple, complete with adjustable water level mechanism. Huzzah!!

The music is fine, if not a tad repetitive. It serves a purpose and creates ambience but you’re not going to be humming these medleys decades later, in your moments of mental fragility. Majora’s Mask Swamp Palace theme, I’m looking at you here.

Love you long time?


While Oceanhorn 2 is a pretty package, it never really elevates to the levels of its source material. In all honesty, it very rarely threatens to even touch the sides! It’s a perfectly acceptable 3D adventure, with some interesting ideas, that much like the games final section, feel a little rushed and under explored. Boss fights are interesting and enjoyable, but there aren’t enough of them and overall, the story fails to really deliver and have you thinking about it after credits rolled. If you’re a fan of the tried and tested Zelda formula and are looking for a title to scratch the traditional 3D itch, Oceanhorn 2 will just about do that, but it won’t unfortunately have you day dreaming about it in maths class for days and weeks to come.

Pros

  • Visually desirable
  • A solid, if unspectacular Zelda-like
  • Boss fights are impressive, if not limited

Cons

  • The story fails to engross and enrapture
  • Sea/Sky travel
  • The final stretch feels rushed and under-explored

Verdict
Oceanhorn 2 is certainly technically superior to its predecessor, but it fails to capture the imagination in the same way. The scope is higher, but unfortunately the delivery is somewhat lacking.

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