Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Professor Lupo: Ocean is a standalone sequel to Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets. A 2-D grid based puzzle solving adventure where your main goal is to not die, which will be met with varying levels of success. Bringing back some of the creatures from the first title and introducing new ones to work with the new water mechanics, a new degree of death is added in the form of H-2-oh no.
The protagonist this time around is a young girl who wakes up from a pod, and is saved from drowning by a mysterious creature who drops a helmet on her that provides oxygen while she is underwater. Turns out she can’t remember anything, so with the assistance of snarky AI Plato, she is directed to complete a large number of tasks in order to fix the space station that has now found itself underwater. An undertaking she is not too thrilled about.
Unfortunately for our newly christened heroine, dangers abound in the space station, whether that be monsters from the previous title trying to kill and/or eat you or deadly water currents dragging you to your death. In order to avoid these hazards, you must interact with control points to open and close doors, or activate devices. Some of these can be activated remotely, and some need to manually be activated while standing next to them.
This is split into chapters and stages within each chapter, usually with an overarching theme for each chapter. Along the way you may spot holographic documents. These are optional items that you can pick up to tell you a bit about other crew members, mostly cameo references or funny tidbits about their life or death. In addition to these, there are some stages with bonus optional objectives, such as “leave this enemy alive”, or something in a similar vein. These add a nice additional challenge if you’re finding the main game needs a bit more of a challenge.
Now, those who haven’t played the first title, first off you’re missing out. Second off, you will be spoiled for some of the plot points from the first game by playing Ocean, so I highly advise you to pick up the first title. Now, those who have played the first title, let me point out that Ocean was a lot easier for me. That isn’t to say it isn’t challenging at times, but I just personally found it much easier, both the main stages and the bonus objectives.
Something returning players may note is that Ocean is also a lot shorter, with just under 50 stages to the original 100 from the first title. This makes ocean feel like more of a spin-off than a direct sequel, or like the developers simply ran out of time trying to either fix bugs or come up with puzzles. Now I’m not saying 50 stages of puzzle solving isn’t impressive, I mean, I’ve tried making my own puzzles before, and it can be super challenging mores than solving them, but compared to the first title it just felt a little lacking.
On the plus side, the game is really smooth, and I never experienced any bugs or glitches or crashes while playing, something that I’m rather prone to, regardless of game, which is a plus if it doesn’t happen to me. The game might be a little slower paced, as your protagonist doesn’t move around very vast, but that also gives you time to think about what you’re going to do next. The new water mechanics were actually pretty nice as well, something I don’t think I’ve ever said about a game “the water stage was good”. The puzzles were both challenging yet intuitive enough that you could work out a solution without a P.h.D in puzzle solving, and while the plot line gets extremely corny towards the end, the new monster designs are kinda cool.