Slide To Play Q and A: Oceanhorn

Oceanhorn is an upcoming action RPG from Cornfox & Brothers and FDG Entertainment. If you want to get excited about the game, all you need to do is look at the screenshots and watch the early gameplay footage below. But there’s a lot more to Oceanhorn than just good looks. We recently chatted with designer/artist/creative director Heikki Repo about the game, and he has us pretty excited to get our hands on it when it launches later this year. Read on for the goods.

Slide To Play: What’s the basic story of Oceanhorn?

Heikki Repo: Once upon a time, the nation of Arcadia spread across the World of Uncharted Seas. A thousand years ago, Arcadia was hit by a catastrophe and the once-flourishing society disappeared into darkness. Three horrible sea monsters emerged from this darkness. One of them– the only one still remaining– is Oceanhorn.

The player is taken into the shoes of Nameless Hero (nameless, because you can name him), whose father has left to confront Oceanhorn. Hero is given his father’s old notebook that will guide his way in a world full of adventures, monsters, and rich history. What lead the ancient world to destruction a thousand years ago? Where does Oceanhorn come from? What happened to Hero’s father? The player will learn about all of these questions on his adventures!

STP: How does the combat system work?

Repo: When we started working on Oceanhorn, we knew that we don’t only need a combat system, we also need ways to interact with the world. All this interaction and combat has to be simple because of the touch interface. We could have gone to the style of Infinity Blade, but we wanted Oceanhorn to have the classic console JRPG feel to it. There are four actions that provide deep, yet simple combat system for Oceanhorn.

  1. The sword. Attack enemies with quick blows, or charge attack button for a roundhouse whirl-attack.
  2. Interaction with the world. The player can pickup rocks, jars and other objects and throw them at enemies. He can also push and drop heavy objects on enemies below, or lure them into spike or arrow traps.
  3. Items. My favorite is Bow, but some of you might like to attack enemies with Bombs, dodge enemy attacks with Trencher Boots or block enemy blows with a Shield.
  4. Spells. Gather up mana and unleash powerful spells, like Fireball. My favourite spell is called Force, which will grab a nearby object, like a jar, and throw it at the enemy. When using a spell, the gameplay will slow down for you to target enemies. You can even line up multiple enemies for a fireball attack.

Mix these actions to your liking in combat and you will be victorious!


STP: On your blog, you mention your love for the GameBoy game Final Fantasy Adventure. What aspects of that game have you brought to Oceanhorn?

Repo: When I was a kid I just loved the story, music, and straight forward gameplay of that game. FFA was basically Square’s answer to Legend of Zelda and it successfully blended a rich story to the action RPG format. After the first installment, the Seiken Densetsu series quickly forgot some of its founding stones, like environmental puzzles and an open world. Some of its charm also comes from a very standard RPG tileset. Later, Secret of Mana games took their art direction further away from the Final Fantasy series.

Some of Oceanhorn’s appeal comes from its recognizability– it looks like a game you used to love back in the day, taken to this date! Oceanhorn has a unique story, a vast world to explore, a lot of environmental puzzles, and a spell system very similar to Final Fantasy Adventures.

STP: What did you learn from making Death Rally that you’ve used in making Oceanhorn?

Repo: So many things about the market place and the iOS audience. We learned that players want frequent updates with real content. A game is not only a product, it is a service.

However, Death Rally is a very different game from Oceanhorn, so many of its strategies won’t work here. Oceanhorn will be a premium title with a complete campaign. If there ever will be any IAP, it will be implemented afterwards to provide something valuable to the player– like a totally new adventure, for example. We are old fashioned in many ways. We love making premium products.


STP: You’ve recently started working on Oceanhorn with FDG Entertainment. What do they bring to the table?

Repo: During the development of Oceanhorn, we got contacted by many well-known publishers. We decided to stick with the plan to publish Oceanhorn by ourselves, until we were contacted by Future Design Group. They understood what we were aiming to do with our game and they were able to give us the right kind of support. Together with FDG we are able to make the game bigger and translate it to many languages, for instance. But on top of that, they have special cards in their sleeves. Actually, I’m barely sitting still while I’m writing this. We have some exciting announcements to make in the future!

STP: Oceanhorn looks gorgeous. What devices will it run on?

Repo: Thank you! Oceanhorn uses its own engine, not Unity or the Unreal Engine. That’s why we can optimize it closer to the hardware. Without making any promises, I can say that we mostly use two-year-old devices to develop Oceanhorn and it runs just fine on them. It is in our best interest to release Oceanhorn on as many devices as possible.


STP: Do you have a release window for Oceanhorn?

Repo: Oceanhorn will be released when it is ready, sometime in 2013. We apologize for making early promises a year ago. The scope of the game has become much more ambitious during the development and together with FDG we can realize an amazing adventure game.

STP: Have you decided on a price point yet for Oceanhorn? Are you considering a free-to-play model?

Repo: We are not aiming at the free-to-play market with Oceanhorn. Oceanhorn will be a grand adventure that will require a single purchase. It will be released without IAP, so players can feel secure that their purchase will provide the complete experience. The price point is still undecided, but it will be reasonable.

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