Adventure titles seem to be a dime a dozen nowadays. Still, despite their frequency in the gaming market, it’s always remarkable when it’s done correctly and how much that allows them to stand out. There’s a sense of discovery within the genre that developer Max Mraz seems to implement in his newest game Ocean’s Heart.
With a retro art style and witty dialogue, Ocean’s Heart shines its brightest as you’re exploring towns and interacting with NPCs. The blasé, nonchalant humor of the dialogue always got a light chuckle out of me. It clearly showed the writers understood the tropes within the genre and used that to their advantage to make each of these interactions individually stick out.
During my time with an early demo building, I did not get a sense of the main story in any way. Instead, I was thrown into a sidequest that directly shows the type of gameplay loop this title will provide. After a brief introductory segment, you wake up on an island with all of your gear gone, which is where the exploration truly begins.
Ocean’s Heart’s gameplay, while nothing particularly noteworthy, gets the fundamentals right. The inclusion of rolling makes world traversal swift, allowing you to pretty much follow the beat of your own drum. There are several obtained items such as bombs and bow and arrows, which all serve rather self-explanatory roles.
I can’t deny that the general movement and combat were extremely reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which this title is clearly inspired from, but it did not feel identical. Instead of being a carbon copy, the overall atmosphere of the world built upon by the writing and nature of discovery felt unique and well earned.
Also, the gameplay loop felt a bit more challenging when compared to other classic Zelda titles. At the very least, I promise that I did not find myself constantly comparing it to Zelda like titles as I was playing it and instead felt a mild sense of engrossment in the brevity of the world that lay before me. Puzzles and progression were never too obvious. They each provided a sense of accomplishment after completing and require some experimentation and attention to the world design and dialogue.
The primary complaint I have regarding this demo, which lasted for almost its entire duration, was its enemy design. Enemies came in droves and in seemingly almost every single screen I found myself in. While the concept behind each enemy’s telegraphs works well in theory, there are way too many on-screen at once and it just makes combat a mashy, frustrating experience. If the enemy design is cleaned up a fair amount, I can see Ocean’s Heart being a fairly strong adventure game that can stand on its own without need for comparison.
Ocean’s Heart is in development for PC-via Steam.
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