Ocean’s Heart Review: A Fun If Unoriginal Retro Throwback
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Ocean’s Heart puts you in the role of a little girl exploring the depths of the ocean. It’s a game that feels inspired by some of the greats of the past, including The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Limbo. However, while Ocean’s Heart is a fun game for children, it lacks the depth of its inspirations. The puzzles aren’t very hard, and you aren’t forced to think very hard about how to solve them.
Ocean’s Heart is a throwback to the classic JRPGs of yesteryear, but while that could have been a recipe for disaster, developer and publisher Degica Games made a game that is fun if unoriginal. You’ll love the beautiful pixel art, chiptune soundtrack, and the likeable characters (including a mermaid, a pirate, and a robot).
The year is 20XX, and the world is a gentler, kinder place. Crime is low, the sun warms the land, and everyone is happy. Or so it seems. However, there is a sinister force at work – an evil force that has been plaguing the world for decades. A force that calls itself Dr. Dat. No one knows what Dr. Dat’s true motives are, but he has made it his mission to steal large amounts of money from banks across the globe.
Given its enduring popularity, it’s no wonder so many The Legend of Zelda clones have appeared over the years. From early adventures like Neutopia , to later games likeImmortals:… Fenyx RisingandGenshin Impact, Zelda continues to inspire developers around the world since its initial release. Even after the successful reimagining of Breath of the Wild , there was still room for 2D games like A Link to the Past, and it shows with Ocean’s Heart. Created by Max Mraz, this top-down role-playing game is often entertaining and carries its influence with pride, even if it’s not always well received.
Ocean’s Heart Rating: Nice but not originalRetro
In Ocean’s Heartyou play as Tilia, a Navy volunteer who bears a striking resemblance to Time Hero. After her colony is attacked by pirates, she discovers that her friend Hazel has also been kidnapped by the adversaries. Tilia’s father, also in the Navy, leaves to bring Hazel home, but does not return. Of course Tilia goes on an adventure to find them. The story is humorous and often plays with classic RPG trophies. There are some laughs, but this self-referential style comes across as forced at times, making it random. The first few games of Ocean’s Heart are rather linear, but once you leave the limestone island, the game takes on a truly open-ended feel and there is complete freedom of action. You can plunge headlong into the main story, but there are also many side missions for which you can earn currency called crowns. Some of the quests are the standard quests of defeating x number of monsters or exploring x number of dungeons, but others involve more interesting and relevant situations to the world. At the very beginning of the game, in Gothshead harbour, the head of the merchant guild asks you to go after a ghost squid, after which you discover that the squid and the inhabitants of the crab island are being unfairly persecuted. You can side with the squids and the residents to overthrow the guild leader, which will forever change your interaction with the guild in the future. It’s a minor issue in the plot, but it affects the rest of the story. Standard quests don’t usually have this effect, since you usually have to clear a dungeon for explorers, so something like this stands out. Outside of these establishments, on the road or in a dungeon, Tilia encounters all manner of monsters, from simple enemies like crabs with a standard swinging attack to mandragores that can emerge from the ground and take you out in seconds. Initially you are armed with a sword, but over time you can purchase a crossbow for distance attacks, and you can also learn magical abilities such as useful blade barriers or lightning attacks. Ocean’s Heart as such leans heavily on Zelda , with existing ideas better executed elsewhere, and while anything can be fun, the lack of originality is perhaps the game’s biggest downside. As a result, this dependence makes things less exciting. There are also some problems. For example, sword strike detection doesn’t end up working; if he swings his sword near himself, he hits enemies without issue, but that’s not the case if he hits objects. As long as you’re not right in front of them, it doesn’t register this kind of attack at all. Tilia’s capabilities could also use better key mapping. You can dodge throws by pressing the same button as NPCs or objects, so it’s very easy to make the mistake of not being perfectly aligned. If you z. B. trying to talk to someone on the dock, you can easily accidentally tip over and fall into deep water, resulting in loss of health. These two problems combined make the gameplay feel unnecessarily complicated here and there. In the forge you can upgrade weapons and armor for better protection and attack. This is a useful feature, as Tilia only starts the game with three hearts; these can generally be increased by traversing hidden dungeons, and health restoring fruit is also available everywhere, but this system makes things a little more manageable. Again, there are crafting items that you can use to collect ingredients to make healing potions later. To make your life easier, Tilia has two slots for objects in which you can place potions, fruits or bombs.
Ocean’s Heart: review – The Bottom Line
- The pixel art style is nice.
- It captures the classic Zelda gameplay very well.
- Good quest system.
- Checks can be inaccurate.
- It is characterized by its lack of originality.
- Jokes don’t always work.
You can tell that Max Mraz put a lot of love into Ocean’s Heart , and in a way that makes it a wonderful solo work. It offers extensive exploration and a fun quest system, and can’t escape the influence of Legend of Zelda , but it can’t offer anything unique. Much of what is offered here has been seen before, and good humor is not enough to make it better. Still, Ocean’s Heart would be just fine on the SNES, as it has a beautiful 16-bit pixel art style that really shines. Old-school Zelda fans will certainly love it, and as a retro-style RPG, it’s still recommended despite these flaws. [Note: Developer provided a copy of Ocean’s Heart that was used for review].
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