Creating a game is no easy task; Forge Reply for instance, had a team of fifteen working on the excellent Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, so it's pretty remarkable that three people set about creating and designing a vast, ambitious game of adventure and exploration for iOS called "Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas".
I spoke to Heikki Repo, Creative Director at Cornfox & Bros, the man responsible for Oceanhorn's design, story and graphics, and I asked him how long it took to create. "I wrote the first game design of Oceanhorn in the beginning of 2010, right after our company was established." He told me. "We soon got the chance to be the developer party for Death Rally for iOS devices and froze Oceanhorn for a year and a half [Death Rally is a top view car racing game with a difference: you can equip your vehicle with weapons and armour, and blow your opponents out of the race]. We started full production of Oceanhorn in the end of 2011, around the same time when we announced the game in our blog."
|Meet the team (from left to right):|
Heikki Repo & Jukka and Antti Viljamaa.
"It gathered much more audience than what we could have ever estimated! In one single day, 100,000 people visited our blog for more information, and we only had one concept screenshot on display."
"Production saw another halt in the spring 2012, when we focused on making a Steam version of Death Rally. From August 2012 until the release now in November 2013, we worked really hard to create the game everyone was expecting it to be."
"Our core team is three people. I'm responsible for all the design and art. Antti and Jukka Viljamaa are brothers and programmers of our team. We use freelancer audio designer from Kaamos Sound company, Tapio Liukkonen, and the majority of the soundtrack is composed by Kalle Ylitalo."
The game's objective is to explore the numerous islands around you, solve puzzles, hope to find out what happened to your father, and rid the world of the monster that has plagued your world for a thousand years, Oceanhorn.
|Oceanhorn is a beautiful world to explore.|
|You joined the navy, to see the sea...|
Through the course of your travels, you'll learn how to cast spells, and discover powerful weapons, everything you need to achieve your quest, and gather the various objects that will enable you to defeat Oceanhorn.
|Chests contain valuables - make sure you open them all.|
It's extremely important to talk to anyone you meet and read every sign you find as many hold clues you need to complete your journey. In fact, new islands won't be discovered unless you do just that, and it's often a good idea to talk to the same person more than once as they may have something else to divulge.
|Explore every area on each island|
to uncover concealed treasures.
As you can probably imagine, this is a pretty big world. The developers claim Oceanhorn offers 11 hours of gameplay and this is borne out by my exploration of the game. Highly impressive for something created by just three people.
|Explore, gain experience and level up.|
"This is the vacuum we saw in the App Store", he explained, "there are no good japanese action RPG there, especially not one with an emphasis on environmental puzzles and exploration. For a game to succeed, it needs to be recognized as a representative of the genre, yet there are way too few games coming to the Zelda-genre, and production of Oceanhorn taught us that there was a reason for it: it's a very difficult genre!"
|If you can't reach a lever, use magic to move it for you.|
"We started with Ylitalos before we knew of the possibility to have Uematsu and Ito. He did the majority of the songs on our soundtrack but when Uematsu and Ito came aboard, we gave some of the most central songs for them to compose. Uematsu did the main theme and the sailing theme for instance, while Ito worked on Father's theme which plays in the beginning, and the Mesmeroth boss battle music, amongst others."
|Find elusive heart pieces to permanently increase|
your health beyond your original allotment.
One aspect that isn't supported is iCloud saves, which means you can't start a game on your iPhone and carry on with your iPad or iPod touch, but this is something Cornfox & Bros are working on, and will hopefully implement it in a future update. Currently, you can save but two games on your local device.
|Keep your eye on the prize and avoid those spikes.|
In fact, so successful has this game been that not only do they plan on offering continued support for the foreseeable future, but Cornfox & Bros will start working on a sequel in 2014.
|Make sure you talk to everyone.|
Buying some supplies can also be a good idea.
If you're looking for adventure on iOS this Christmas, Oceanhorn is where it's at.
Version Reviewed: 1.3
Price: £5.99 ($8.99)
Rated 9+ for the following: Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes and Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Tested on: iPhone 4S and iPad mini, both on iOS 7.0.4.
|You have goals to achieve, experience to accumulate, emblems to find...|
Oceanhorn can keep you busy.
|Most puzzles involve blocks to move in the right position.|
|New boots and not a puss in sight.|
|The boss battles can be epic.|
|Much better than the stick you started off with!|
|You'll believe a boat can fly.|
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