Ocean Blue I : The Beginning
This week we will be taking a look at a relatively newer game, which has only been released on our site in 2009. By now, many of you have probably heard of Hawk Studio, the Chinese AOK design team which has been releasing quality material to the Blacksmith for quite some time now. Ocean Blue I - The Beginning by Hawk_DaghT might just be their best work to date.
The game, narrated by Plato himself, takes the player to a time that has long since been lost from history books, a time of ancient kingdoms and great battles. One of these kingdoms, Olic, with its leader Odin, is bent on world domination, and it is the aim of the other smaller kingdoms, such as Atle, Lantis and Sartin, to put an end to it. The premise of the game is not unique, but the way it unfolds is very creative and the player is constantly in the center of the action, often forced to make decisions which will affect the rest of his game. Playing never gets boring, as every task you are given has something new or creative to keep you interested, sometimes controlling one character or a small contingent of troops, and at other times defending or besieging towns with your army. Even after you finish it, you will have the option of choosing another difficulty level which is likely to provide you with a very different game experience! There are also many things to find on the map, which means that the player will probably find something new to do or to see even by the third time he plays the game. This says a lot about replay value. Actually, this was the first time I can say I enjoyed a game even more playing it the second time around.
The highlight of the game, at least to me, was the excellent map design and the atmosphere generated by the epic battles. However, Ocean Blue is much more than just epic fixed force gameplay, it also contains many witty objectives and even optional sidequests that I will let you discover by yourselves.
Before we wrap this up, I have a bonus for you guys. It's an interview with the man behind Ocean Blue, Hawk_Daght himself, who has been kind enough to answer a few questions, shedding some light on the status of this project and mentioning some other interesting things:
Many people have expressed their hopes of playing the sequel to "Ocean Blue". Can you tell us how things stand now? What are the chances of a sequel and how long will it take for the English speaking audience to see it?
Hawk_Daght: I'm really grateful to players who support and encourage me for all these years. The project is still on-going and two new characters have made their debuts. Recently I'm trying to solve a logic dilemma of the storyline which has stopped my working process for a while. However, if may not be a short time before the birth of Ocean Blue 2. I have much more private work to do since entering Tsinghua University in 2008 and I'm currently busy with applying for graduate study in video game design in the US. But hopefully I can spend more time on it after the application. I'm sorry that I can't provide a deadline for you. I spent 3 years on the Chinese version without anybody noticing my work. I had seen too many designers announcing their projects too early while ending up with unfinished ones. Since Ocean Blue is purely my personal dream rather than a commercial product, why be hasty? =)
Will the sequel be the final part of Ocean Blue, or will there be more episodes?
Hawk_Daght: 4-5 episodes in total are expected to tell the whole story and answer Plato's question about gods' existence. Ocean Blue 1 is only a small part of the epic. That's why I translated the name of Chapter 1 as "The Beginning" (actually, its original Chinese name is "Winners' Elegy").
Your games, as well as other Hawk Studio ones, were very well received by the AOK Heaven community. I'm sure that you have some other works which haven't been translated yet. Should we expect to see more translated scenarios or campaigns from you guys in the near future?
Hawk_Daght: Yeah, we have much more works not translated yet. Currently more than 15 new campaigns are published per month at Hawk community and the 7th Hawk Empire Annual Campaign Competition is just closing. Besides, a huge AOK mode project under the theme of the Three Kingdoms of China is ongoing. With the perspective of time, I think more and more of our works will be available in English.
Please name some of your favorite scenarios or campaigns hosted at AOK Heaven, which have influenced you as a designer.
Hawk_Dacht: Having played Ulio by Ingo, I realised that games can be not only amusing but also meaningful and deep. MCrnigoj is another designer I respect a lot. Influenced by his serious attitude towards history, I became fussier about the reality of my own games. Sceletar's Crusade - The Beginning is also a campaign of my favorites. The fierce battle scenes enlightened me on the essence of gameplay. In addition, with an Asian flavor, The way of the Warrior I by Great Emperor is another campaign I love.
If you haven't yet downloaded this gem (chances are you didn't as it has less than 3000 downloads at this point), you should really go and press the download button right now. And after playing it, keep your fingers crossed, just as I do, for a sequel.
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