There are few retro RPG’s that would go on my watchlist, but this Ocean’s Heart preview is one of them. It’s an upcoming title from developer Max Mraz, published by Nordcurrent and will be available on Steam.
Don’t get excited just yet as it doesn’t have a scheduled release date nor playable demo; I was just lucky to be in the right place and the right time to play an hour or so of gameplay.
This brief experience was enough to whet my appetite for more as I got to experience a diverse number of scenes, fight some guardian-like nasties, and fraternise with the locals and drink their coffee.
Ocean’s Heart PC Preview
In this Ocean’s Heart preview, you get to play as Tilia – a bona fide monster hunter that isn’t scared of adventure or scrapping with monsters, pirates and spirits.
For the purposes of the preview, breaking the fourth wall and all, Tilia receives a ticket to ride the local ferry for merely turning up at the local village. Referring to the fourth wall reference, this is just a brief mechanic for peeps like me to see the variety of gameplay.
While onboard the ship, the captain comes down to ask if you know how to handle a sword (and monster) as a Kraken is attacking the boat. Throwing you into the deep end of action, but not controls, you get to experience a bow for ranged attacks and a sword for your melee.
Defeating the monster, the ship is destroyed, and you appear shipwrecked without having the option to return home. Queue speaking with the locals and getting quests from the village elder and exploring the many screens.
Tilia The Explorer
It goes without saying that the likes of the Zelda series have influenced this Ocean’s Heart preview, but it does it incredibly well, and the movement is excellent. It was quite a surprise.
Combat is swift, and she can attack with her sword at any angle and not restricted to four-directional – it’s not that much of an homage to the retro titles of old thankfully.
The action felt unrestricted and should there be a moment of being overpowered or caught with your back against the wall, Tilia can do a very quick evading roll which is incredibly useful. As enemies respawn when you return to a scene, sometimes you want to get out of Dodge. With a dodge.
When she’s shipwrecked, Tilia loses her gear, but you get the sword early on, then the bow for the later part, but this was mostly needed for hitting switches as melee attacks were great. She also has an array of bombs to blow up rocks and enemies with freezing options too.
Donning The Shellsuit
Ocean’s Heart is undoubtedly a throwback to the classic 16-bit SNES games of old, and it does it so well that after the first four or five minutes, I didn’t feel it was such a homage, but a standalone title and pretty engrossed in the experience.
Death isn’t the end either, but this might be for the preview only. If you die, you simply select save and continue from the menu and carry on. This didn’t interrupt the flow of play and made a challenging game much more bearable. It’s not that it’s super hard, but it’s easy to make a mistake if getting complacent with enemies.
You get to do a bit of dungeon crawling to unlock new gear, move a few blocks here and there to reveal secrets and fight some hard-hitting boss-like creatures which were a lot of fun, but aside from the rather excellent gameplay and presentation, the music stood out for me most.
Unlike the cliches you hear with the RPG genre – especially the retro bleeps, Ocean’s Heart had a fantastic soundtrack, and I found myself lingering in a scene or two to hear it out as moving to new locations reset it. While the genre was completely different, it reminded me of Get-A-Grip Chip which had some fantastic tunes.
As mentioned before, this is the Ocean’s Heart preview. There isn’t a demo just yet, and as it’s still a work in progress, no score but believe me that this is going to be a must if you’re a top-down RPG fan. I don’t fit into that cast at all, but this genuinely is a game I’m looking forward to playing in full.
Add Ocean’s Heart to your wishlist for a notification on the release date – sometime in 2021.