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Ocean’s Heart is the latest game by Max Mraz, which some people might know of thanks to Yarntown, a 2D hommage to Bloodborne. Ocean’s Heart was made in the Solarus engine, which was designed to make 16-bit ARPG’s of the likes of older Legend of Zeldas. With that in mind, it’s clear where Ocean’s Heart has drawn inspiration from.
Ocean’s Heart is an ARPG that focuses heavily on exploration, by giving players the ability to traverse through the world at their own pace. The game puts players on the shoes of Tilia, an aspiring Navy Volunteer which takes it after her dad. After an unprovoked attack on your small village by some pirates, you set out on a journey to find with your father, who was attempting to rescue a fellow friend that was kidnapped during the raid. The story obviously doesn’t just stay there, as soon enough you find yourself wrapped in a much bigger plot that threatens the world as you know it.
Plenty of tools to choose from
Just like any other ARPG, Ocean’s Heart has its fair share of combat. To be frank, I was never really into the type of combat in this kind of games, but I certainly don’t hate it. My issue with it is that’s overly simplistic. Simply put, you can attack as fast as you can smash each attack button, so you can quickly eliminate enemies. However, most of its problems stem from the fact that you can easily get stunlocked and stuck in tight spots with no ability to escape. Things can quickly get frustrating.
Aside from that, there is actually a decent amount of different weapons and items that you can add to your arsenal. There’s your starting sword, a flaming spear, a boomerang, a bow, bombs, a flail, as well as magic spells like lightning and a magic shield. It should also be noted that you just don’t get everything in the first few hours. The game regularly introduces you to new tools throughout your adventure, which keeps the game interesting and fresh.
Questing and exploration galore
When you’re not delving through dungeons or going at some of the many enemies in Ocean’s Heart, you’ll just be taking in the game’s world as you explore it. The game heavily incentivizes you to explore, not only by granting you more items, like potions, coins or ammunition, but also by allowing you to learn more about the world. There are plenty of people that you can talk with, to learn more about the history of the world, and who knows, you might run into a few side-quests.
I must say that I was surprised by the number of side-quests that the game has, and these aren’t exactly your typical fetch quests. More often than not, these actually present you with some kind of puzzle or tell small stories of their own which, despite not being mandatory to complete the game, they certainly add a lot of flavour to the whole experience. In this aspect, the game is very old-school in design, in the sense that there isn’t any sort of guidance system in Ocean’s Heart. Instead, you have to keep track of your objectives by consulting your journal, to figure out where you should head next. Sometimes, it can be confusing, especially since the world is quite huge, but I never found myself struggling with figuring out where I needed to go next for more than a couple of dozen minutes.
Overall, despite not being a massive fan of its combat, Ocean’s Heart turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. It can be as much of a soothing adventure as it can be challenging, as the peaceful exploration heavily contrasts with some of the boss encounters. It took me about 14 hours to complete the game, but I still have a couple of side-quests to finish. All in all, the game doesn’t overstay its welcome. It manages to stay and feel relatively fresh, by continuously introducing a few small mechanics throughout your adventure. In the end, this is an easy recommendation from me, especially if you’re a fan of games like Blossom Tales. I wouldn’t say that this is a MUST PLAY, as the game isn’t groundbreaking in any way, but it certainly can be fun, and that’s what matters in the end.