The overarching story is that the world is not what it used to be and the only way it can be restored is to defeat Oceanhorn. Yet, other than the aquatic half-human half-fish people who claim the open sea is too dangerous for them to swim out in, everyone seems very normal and extremely happy in the game, hardly a group of oppressed people in a dark world. The town people freely wander about their island, run shops, and even hold a joyous festival. Boats pass you in the open sea and relay cheerful messages in your direction as you sail past them. It's almost as if the person that wrote the primary story and history for the game forgot to coordinate with the person that wrote the character dialogue and events.
Gameplay & Controls
The battles between common enemies become repetitive very quickly and require little to no tactics: you swing your sword or you throw an object at them.
The world is comprised of a series of islands which are fragmented by open water. The player uses a small sailboat to traverse between the regions, and during travel some bombs and enemies occasionally (and in a very formulaic way) appear straight ahead of the player, which must be blasted out of the way with a pea-shooter. The process of traveling between islands, something that could have included interesting quests and moments of exploration, is instead filtered down into a boring mini-game that the player is forced to repeat over and over.
There are four or five boss battles, all with a winning strategy that is discovered rather quickly. Toss bottles at this guy, block lasers with your shield against that guy...you get the point. The boss fights aren't terrible, they just aren't very fun or interesting either, and are yet another missed opportunity in this game.
Items & Weapons
One strange item worth noting is a flute that you receive near the end of the game. The item itself isn't strange, but rather the odd way it is just thrown into the game is what really felt odd and lazy. The flute is in the final dungeon, sitting out in the open, on a narrow pathway that the player has to pass through. It really feels like the developers decided to add in the item after they had already fully planned out and started to develop the environments. In other words, it is as if the developers had this conversation:
- Developer 1: "What if we have a flute that the player has to use in order to control the monster at the end?"
- Developer 2: "But where can we put it? I already finished all of the levels. I will need to build out a new puzzle, add a chest for it, or maybe create some extra story and instruction for finding it."
- Developer 1: "Naw, just drop it right in the open on the final path to the final boss so the player just awkwardly and forcefully picks it up with no build up, discovery, or challenge whatsoever."
Following the theme of content that isn't quite fully thought out are the coins that are collected by chopping down bushes, defeating enemies, or discovered in treasure chests. Coins (or a like form of currency) are extremely common in RPGs and usually provide for some added depth and customization, allowing players to purchase upgrades, refill items, unlock rare content, bribe guards, or change the appearance of a character. But in Oceanhorn instead you get only one shop with many near useless items and only one item worth purchasing, which is a heart container. Why would I spend coins on a potion that immediately refills my health or mana when I can quickly refill them by slashing down a couple of bushes next to the shop? Instead, a useful, similar item would be health and mana potions I can carry with me and use at a later time, such as when I am battling a boss and am in desperate need of a refill. In the end I had over a thousand spare coins and nothing interesting to spend them on, making me feel as if the time I took seeking out the various chests in the game was rather pointless.