Developer: Max Mraz
Genre: Action Adventure
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On: PC
People write off “clones” of other media a little too easily sometimes. While it is easy to dismiss Zelda clones in particular, there is plenty of potential in the genre, even if that potential hasn’t been fully realized yet. Ocean’s Heart is a game that wears The Legend of Zelda‘s inspiration on its sleeve, and it absolutely shines as an alternative to classic games in the series.
Ocean’s Heart is full of heart, and while it doesn’t live up the series that inspired it, there is plenty to love here. It takes place in an beautiful archipelago, specifically the protagonist Tilia’s village. It doesn’t take long for a peaceful life to change and the plot to move forward. Soon, the player is looking for Tilia’s father and is uncovering tons of the archipelago’s mysteries.
The setting of Ocean’s Heart is gorgeous, with bright visuals full of gorgeous landscapes and lovely pixel art. It has the vibes of The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and the style of The legend of Zelda Minish Cap. Exploring this world is a delight, and anyone who has played a 2D Zelda game will know how this game plays. It doesn’t simply play like a Zelda game, it is a Zelda game. Players will explore the world, going from town to town and dungeon to dungeon. along the way they will acquire new tools and weapons that will help them complete dungeons and access new areas of the overworld. Yes, this is a Zelda game in every way, it’s just missing the name.
While Ocean’s Heart is a delightful experience for The Legend of Zelda fans, it does differ in a few small ways. Unfortunately, most of those ways are a lack of features and mechanics rather than genuine differences. There are puzzles in Ocean’s Heart, but not nearly as many as there are in the games that inspired it. The dungeons look great, but they aren’t particularly deep and they lack genuinely interesting designs from a gameplay percentage. The bosses only highlight this, exchanging the fun puzzle fights that the genre is known for and instead makes them typical action battles. The enemies are spongy and it’s just up to the play to deal tons of damage, rather than thinking through the battle and mastering the tools they recently acquired.
Ocean’s Heart is also missing the crisp controls that makes these games feel as great as they should. They aren’t awful, but the scheme has some weird choices and the movement just doesn’t feel silky smooth. Switching between items is clunky, and slows down the pacing of experience. The game also doesn’t register every button press, which is perplexing and occasionally frustrating.
If the player doesn’t look at what Ocean’s Heart lacks, they will find an entertaining alternative to 2D Zelda games. It’s beautiful, has plenty of content, and is genuinely fun too play.
If the player doesn't look at what Ocean's Heart lacks, they will find an entertaining alternative to 2D Zelda games. It's beautiful, has plenty of content, and is genuinely fun too play.