LifeisXbox’s Ocean’s Heart review | It took over a year but the epic top-down action RPG called Ocean’s Heart has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch. This is just one of those games that you just know are going to be much better on a handheld console than on PC. Don’t get me wrong, the game got very positive reviews on Steam as well, but I just get a little more excited when a title like this appears on the Nintendo Switch.
Ocean’s Heart was developed by Max Mraz and published by Nordcurrent and is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda games. And this shows. The 2D top-down perspective, the playstyle, the combat, Zelda is written all over Ocean’s Heart. Now, we know that there are a lot of indie games out there that try to recreate some sort of Zelda experience, so let’s see if Ocean’s Heart actually got the assignment right.
Most Memorable Moment
I didn’t really read up on the game before I started playing it. I basically looked at two or three screenshots and immediately felt like this could just be my type of game. So this lead me to be unaware that there were pirates involved in the game. So when the story started and freaking pirates showed up, I immediately got even more excited about playing Ocean’s Heart!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we Liked!
- Graphics and sound | There is no denying that Ocean’s Heart offers an immensly charming artstyle. We get thrown into a detailed world filled with all kinds of islands that are connected and all have their own aesthetic. The world has enough detail and is quite colorful really. I had a blast discovering new islands and completing the map. I got a little too enthusiastic and completed most of the map quite quickly, which led to dying a lot obviously. But there is just so much to see, it really makes you want to explore. The soundtrack that accompanies you on your adventure sets the perfect tone for the journey so I feel like the only thing I can say here is that this sound really matched the mood of the game. The sound effects were perfectly implemented as well, so job well done.
- Content, quests and replay value | Ocean’s Heart has a lot going for it, but it also has a lot in it. There’s a heavy focus on exploring and having conversations with all kinds of quirky NPCs. There is even a crafting part in the game, allowing you to use the various ingredients you find along the way and create, for example, healing potions. Then, of course, we have the quests. Besides finishing your main quests, you also get a tab with side quests. I finished my main quests but ended up only finishing a few side quests so far, so this game definitely has some ‘replay’ value once you’ve finished the game. I guess it’s perfect for completionists who want to get through everything.
- Story | You start the game very Zelda-like, of course. You play as Tilia, a young girl, and you wake up in your bed on what seems like just another casual day. She lives on Limestone Island where she helps out in her family’s tavern. One day, the island is attacked by a bunch of pirates and their leader Blackbeard. Apparently, they are searching for the Ocean’s Heart, a powerful stone that promises the wielder immense power. Tilia’s father tries to be a hero here and goes after the pirates in order to bring them to justice. But that’s not the only person that leaves because apparently Tilia’s friend Hazel was kidnapped by the pirates. Flashforward to a few months later. Both Tilia’s father and Hazel still haven’t returned so, you guessed it, Tilia takes it upon herself to search for them. It’s a good starting point and Tilia’s adventure really manages to suck you in. Along the way, she meets a ton of characters that are all unique and offer fun conversations. I honestly loved following the story in Ocean’s Heart, even though there was a lot to read. Definitely recommend following the story and not just fulfilling the quests.
- Enemies and combat | Each area has its own enemies. The Snapmast Reef has ghosts, Goatshead has spiders, and of course, pirates are amongst the enemies as well. Some were really simple to defeat, while others are just plain pain in the asses. A good balance! I also feel like there was plenty of variety when it came to your opponents. Not only because different areas introduced new monsters, but also because each area had a variety of enemies to defeat. Bosses were never too hard to defeat but were always fun nonetheless. When it comes to combat, weapons and abilities I have nothing but positive things to tell you. You start out with a simple sword, a few health hearts and weak armor. Along the way, you’ll be able to upgrade your sword and armor, and you’ll even get a bow (I got so excited because bows are my favourite in-game weapons) that you can upgrade. Besides regular weapons, you get some extra useful items like bombs and a boomerang. And more importantly: cool abilities that will come in super handy! My favourite one was definitely the Searbird’s Tear that allows you to struck enemies with lightning! You’ll need to use some magic for this but magic regenerates rather quickly (naturally or by drinking a potion). Another really cool ability was the Warpbolt Charm that allows you to hit certain special rocks and you switch places with said rock. I was a little sad that this was introduced very late in the game because it’s so cool, but nevertheless, I was very enthusiastic.
- Control scheme | I want to be able to move through a game smoothly. For the most part, this was an issue in Ocean’s Heart. For one, your character Tilia moves very slowly. There is a quick roll that allows you to move faster, but I don’t think a quick roll should be your main way of moving through a world. Also, the quick roll was activated by pressing A, which is also the button used to interact with people, environments, and items. So, as you can expect, I often found myself performing a quick roll instead of talking to someone. Very annoying indeed. I feel like some more thought could’ve been put into the control scheme. Even though eventually you get used to the controls, the feeling of ‘something’s not quite right’ keeps lingering in the back of your mind.
- Navigating | As I mentioned, the map/world is made out of a bunch of connected islands. However, I am personally not too great at finding my way, coordination and all that. At times, I found it hard to navigate through the different islands. I felt like you had to really remember certain paths and this often caused me to wander and search for a bit too long. I mean, I did eventually get where I needed or wanted to go, but the navigation wasn’t optimal. Another ‘issue’ was with the details on the map. You get the big outlines but once you’re in an area, you cannot really use the map to navigate yourself through the area, and trust me, you’ll probably get lost like I did.
What we Disliked
- Inventory items information | When you find an item for the first time, the game will give a little information on what it does. For example, eating an apple heals two hearts of health. However, once items are in your inventory, you only get to see the name of the item. No further explanation is given and this was really a downside of the game. Of course I don’t remember exactly what everything does. Certainly not since I did not finish this game in one sitting, obviously. I think some more information on items in your inventory would’ve been very welcome.
How long to beat the story | 6 to 9 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | No achievements on Nintendo Switch
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂