OCEANHORN: MONSTER of UNCHARTERED SEAS
From: Finnish game studio Cornfox & Brothers. Mainly for iOS and Android devices but also available for the PC. A Download costs around £7.00 and offers more than an hour's play for each precious £pound.
Value for money ? Certainly.
Playability ? Very much so.
Frustrating ? Definitely.
Exciting ? There are times when an adrenaline rush is evident.
It has been widely compared to the famous "ZELDA" games but even if this is how you view it OCEANHORN is still a game that will while away more than a few hours if you let it. This is one of those games where you merrily control your little character, in this case a young lad in search of his missing father. Graphically it is beautiful, with wonderfully colourful 3D renditions and superb high definition animation - it actually looks like you could truly get wet in the ocean.
At first you only know of one island in the Ocean and so it is there you set course for and eventually arrive at. Leaving your boat in the harbour you make your way jauntily ashore and begin to interact with the local populace. The people that you can speak to have an icon floating over them and it is pretty much everyone that will have a word or two for you. Of course you have to separate the wheat from the chaff during conversations but in the course of your investigations you soon discover the names of other nearby islands, and on gaining the name you also discover the location and the island pops up - literally - out of the ocean and onto your map. If you return to your boat you can plot a course to the next island, often passing flotsam and jetsom en route which you may shoot at for additional bonus points and occasional coins.
Every island is different but contains similar challenges, mainly doors that require you to find the key for, shafts (with and without ladders) down which you can adventure to investigate the underground labyrinths, chests you can plunder and all manner of items and objects that you can attack and destroy to garner whatever secrets they are hiding. A lot of the time the challenge is to find a way to get to something you can plainly see, and this gives the game it's frustration faction because your happy little hero cannot jump or climb, in fact he is pretty useless except at fighting - most monsters barely last a hit or two and shrubs and barrels never hit back. Some puzzles require you to pick up boulders or other objects and position them on touch-plates that operate secret mechanisms to open fences or gates etc, others require you to throw the boulders at targets.
Generally one of the first things you find on an island of interest is the "home" spot - the place you will be returned to should you suffer too much damage. You have at most 4 lives, shown by hearts on the top left of the screen, and these can be replaced if you destroy something that gives you extra life - you cannot gain additional life past four. Life Hearts do not usually die from one hit but usually drain away as you take damage, or, for some reason I am not quite sure of, if you stand in the water or butt up against a wall.
There are lots of places to explore, lots of weird creatures and monsters to combat and plenty of extra missions and tasks that reward you on completion. As you progress you also gain levels of experience and then you are stronger, faster and better, just like an avatar from a role-playing game. There are times when you will think this is way too easy and other times when you will be pulling your hair out because you can see exactly where you want to be or what you want to do but cannot fathom out how to actually put yourself in the position (location) to do it.
Overall it is a fun game that is probably best downloaded onto a mobile device like a Tablet or Phone rather than on a static PC. This is because I would label it as a "travel game" being one of those games I think are best played in small doses, while you are waiting for the show to start at a concert, waiting for or riding on public transport, being a back-seat passenger in a car etc. Though having said that I have to admit that the glory of the production is really powerful when viewed on a 28" hi-def monitor.