Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is awesome. Well, if you’re a sucker for Nintendo’s classic Legend of Zelda adventures and the old-school JRPG mechanics seen in the likes of Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy, it’s awesome. A fully 3D, ocean sailing, dungeon exploring, village wandering epic, it’s one of those games that you point at when people say iPad games can never be as good as console games and shout, “wrong!” It was the cover star of Grab It Episode 2, and you should grab a copy of that to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the game with company founder Heikki Repo (amongst about 15-hours of other content). You should also grab Oceanhorn, if you haven’t already!
We recently caught up with Repo to see how the game was getting along, and to also get some insights into a big update to the game he has planned. Oceanhorn is about to get a fair bit bigger!
It’s been eight months since Oceanhorn released, how have gamers responded to the game thus far? Any feedback you have been particularly proud of, or concerned about?
We could never have expected the kind of reception we’ve had. There are people who are really drawn into this world and they say Oceanhorn is the best game they have ever played. How can you top that? Others say the experience is well-worth the asking price. Many are waiting for Oceanhorn II. There were no negative surprises in the feedback we got. Some people are upset about specific elements of the game, but they were intentionally designed that way - sometimes I wish I could respond to them and help them out. According to most of the feedback, we were able to create polished and heart-warming tribute to console adventure games. Oh, and we have amazing metacritic score of 85 as well!
You’ve got a big update planned; can you talk us through what it includes and why you have chosen to add these elements?
It will add a new island to the Uncharted Seas that includes a small sidequest that reveals more of the background story behind one of the key characters in Oceanhorn. It’s a cursed island trapped in time, called Island of Whispers. People who visit the island forget its existence and it’s up to the player to lift the curse and learn the history of the island.
The other big feature we have is fishing! This was something we were hoping to have in the original release, but we didn’t have time. You get a fishing rod and you can go fishing on every seashore and pier in the world. We have leaderboards for biggest fish in the world, so it will be an international fishing competition.
We wanted to continue our work on Oceanhorn not because we felt the game was lacking, but because we love our customers. The words in our forums and in reviews is that people want more Oceanhorn and this was the easiest way for us to deliver them one more adventure in Arcadia. The fishing game will serve old customers and newcomers alike, while the new island will provide more than two hours of gameplay. I think players will appreciate our efforts! The update will be released in Q3 2014
It’s such a big, console-like experience, we can only assume adding new content is quite the undertaking. Your dedication is admirable, but did you have any thoughts of maybe leaving it as is and instead putting a smaller new game out?
Making this update was relatively easy, because we have existing workflow for maps, assets and enemies etc. The fishing game was a completely new feature, but it was fun to work with and did not mess up the other mechanics in the game. The one thing I have learned during my career is that there is no such a thing as a small game. Even with a small game, we would want to make a top quality products. I can see a production like that take six to nine months and it would delay our next big game too much - and Oceanhorn fans don't deserve that! This update barely delays any of our upcoming projects.
Like its inspirations, we seen Oceanhorn becoming an epic series; have you got a sequel in the works and what have you learned from the response and experience of developing the original that you will be bringing to the next instalment?
Producing a game like Oceanhorn teaches you many things, but the most important lesson for a small studio like us is that we can actually pull it off. That being said, you can expect a big experience from Oceanhorn II, whenever the time will be for that. We have an unwritten rule of not making the same game twice. Our next big game will be something familiar, yet something completely new - in fact, it will be an adventure like no other!
Finally, you’ve resisted the temptation to yo-yo Oceanhorn’s price and have stayed consistent since launch: why have you chosen to do this when so many of your compatriots regularly alter their price?
We have an expensive game and we value our customers a lot. So we wanted to make sure that people who purchase Oceanhorn can rely on the fact that the price will not drop. Many of our compatriots have to lower the price to create demand. For Oceanhorn, we have had steady sales without any sudden, dramatic drops. It is a good place to be in. The price is not coming down, the game is worth its $9 price tag, as so many have commented in their feedback.
- Grab It Episode 2
- Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
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Have You Collected All The Grab It Episodes?
- Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue)
- Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
- Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley
- Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
- Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection