Ori and the Blind Forest is a platform adventure game designed by Moon Studios, an independent developer, and published by Microsoft Studios. I first became aware of the game when it was presented at E3 2014. I loved what I saw at that time and I’ve been waiting to finally get hands on with it, well I got that opportunity. Let’s have a look at Ori and the Blind Forest and see if it lived up to my high expectations….
Set as a 2D open world, platform game, the player controls Ori, a white guardian spirit that fell from a tree. At first, Ori can only run and perform a small jump but by gaining new abilities Ori soon learns to wall run, double jump, float and more. Ori is required to interact with the environment as he jumps from platforms and solves puzzles. There are a variety of enemies in the way as he makes his way to restoring the forest. The player helps Ori collect health shards, energy shards, new abilities, and upgrades. Early on in the game, Ori encounters Sein who is the light and eyes of the Spirit Tree and your companion for the journey that helps in attacking enemies.
In addition to save points scattered in the game, players can create “soul links” at any time they choose to serve as checkpoints. However, soul links can only be created using special resources collected during gameplay; the needed resources are not in abundant supply, forcing players to create them only when necessary.
I’m going to avoid going into any more detail involving the narrative as I genuinely feel as if it’s something that shouldn’t be spoiled….
Does Ori and the Blind Forest live up to my high expectations?
Very few games have the ability to give me chills; if I were to compile a list it would likely be a very short one. Ori and the Blind Forest would most definitely be on that list; in fact it would be very close to the top. To simply call the game beautiful feels like an understatement, it’s absolutely stunning.
I found the story to be highly engaging, you’ll immediately care and feel gripped by it emotionally as soon as the game begins, and that’s very rare. It’s hard not to care for Ori and the hardships he has to endure throughout the journey, there’s more than a single occasion in which the narrative will tug at your heartstrings.
The hand drawn art style is bright, enchanting and a true fantastical feast for the eyes. Combine that with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and you’ve got yourself something truly exceptional.
A lot has been said about the games difficulty but personally I didn’t have too many issues, I’ve played quite a number of these types of platformer/metroidvania games. As challenging as it can be, it’s rewarding in equal measure. When you first begin the game Ori can’t even jump and you’ll have to endure many deaths against the weakest of enemies. By the end Ori will have many new abilities and you’ll get a sense that he’s grown along the way and become much more powerful.
The mark of a truly great game is that feeling you get when completing it, you simply don’t want it to end. Thankfully, Ori and the Blind Forest has been a financial success for both Microsoft and Moon studios so much so that there are already rumours of a sequel circulating.
I managed to 100% complete the game, in my second playthrough I completed the game in 2 hours and 8 minutes with no deaths and no abilities upgraded; these are requirements for certain achievements.
Many people have compared the game heavily with Dust: An Elysian Tail and I can see why.
While thinking about the rating I should give the game I came to the conclusion that there simply wasn’t anything that I disliked about the time I had with it. Personally, my idea of a perfect game is one that has characters I care about, a strong narrative, emotion, fun gameplay, a beautiful art-style and a great soundtrack. Ori and the Blind Forest has all of those things and more so how can I not rate it a 10/10. Moon Studios deserve to be praised for the effort and love that has gone into crafting this excellent title; I’ll be paying close attention to whatever they develop next. This is one hell of an exclusive for Microsoft and one that I feel all should experience if possible.
Ori and the Blind Forest