GAME NAME: Ori and the Blind Forest
DEVELOPER(S): Moon Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Microsoft Studios
PLATFORM(S): Xbox One
RELEASE DATE(S): March 11, 2015
I’m one of those hardcore gamers who love platformers and RPGs and I’m very OCD about collecting items and getting 100% completion on items and maps. It just feels good deep down inside, maybe I’m just sick in the head. That said as an Editor I can’t always spend that type of time when reviewing games, I hate when I can’t spend hundreds of hours on games and I love titles that offer that type of depth, character and challenge. That said, Ori and the Blind Forest is one of those titles.
At first glance Ori and the Blind Forest may look like it’s a fluffy artistic platformer but deep down inside it houses gameplay that’s not only gorgeous with art but has an emotional tug at your heart strings and is quite demanding and clever when it comes to solving puzzles. Ori and the Blind Forest was developed by international talent that teamed up to form Moon Studios and is published by Microsoft Studios.
Ori and the Blind Forest starts off with an ancient spirit tree and one single magic leaf that is blown away to the land in the forest below it. As it turns out the leaf is actually Ori and it’s a cat-like creature who is found and adopted by Naru who raises Ori as her own. The two live happily until one day the Spirit Tree gets corrupted, leaving the forest “blind” and dying all around. Everything that Ori cares about is on the line and so he meets with the spirit Sein and sets off to restore the spirit tree and save the whole forest.
While some may say this sounds like a familiar tale, Ori stands out in a big way. First is the fact that Moon Studios introduces you to Ori, Naru and the story in a fun way that gives you all the backstory that hopefully touches you giving you huge motives to move forward before putting you in harms way. Second it’s done in such a beautiful manner that this game is truly art, it must have taken hours upon hours to animate and color, it’s just plain gorgeous. The music is also done in the same fashion with a beautiful orchestra score that works great for any mood or event, it adds to the gameplay and beauty of the graphics.
Now the forest can’t be saved as easily as making your way back to the Spirit Tree, that would be too easy and not as fun. There are three missing life-sustaining elements that need to be restored to their respective homes in order for a life renewal to occur. That means you’ll have to march your butt across this huge 2D beautiful landscape of levels that are interconnected while earning new abilities along the way. Controls are very basic but can help towards solving the many puzzles you’ll encounter in dungeons, because that’s where the difficulty lives. Like any good Metroidvania platformer some of these abilities include a wall climb, double jump, stomping through weak platforms and also grabbing projectiles (or enemies) to launch yourself in different directions, these abilities allow you to open up new level areas while adding some oomph to your arsenal.
Dungeons can be a beast in themselves, within them normally house self-contained levels that push you to make decisions heavily based on abilities to solve puzzles. Some of these can include carrying a gravity bending orb that lets you walk safely upside down so you can maneuver across hot surfaces. The last part of the dungeon is intense, there is literally no room for error or you throw your controller. The ending is an escape sequence that spikes in difficulty, there are no checkpoints or places to save so if you die, you start off from your last checkpoint, so repetition and mastery is needed. You’ll need to jump over obstacles and escape from being scathed while climbing the wall to a false safety. Any good game is challenging right? That’s right.
Ori feels fragile but don’t be fooled, Ori and the Blind Forest is a strong platformer with beautiful music, spectacular graphics a great story and lot of content to keep you busy. While at times it can be frustrating within dungeons the reward of completing one is immensely gratifying. I highly recommend Ori and the Blind Forest to anyone who is a fan of the platforming genre and that loves beautiful games with great stories.