Ori and the Blind Forest Review
Pure, small and nimble, Ori is a small guardian spirit cursed to explore the depth of the forest following the loss of his adoptive mother.
As a child, Ori enjoyed life and Naru’s company; the 10 minute or so prologue really paints the picture well. Soon enough, an evil owl-caricaturized entity named Kuro was pushed by revenge to disrupt the balance – the forest lost her innocence and purity, and began to rot from its core, the Spirit Tree. This is where you come in, as Ori, to save the forest from its depression and bring it back to life.
Developed by the talented team at Moon Studios, Ori and the Blind Forest takes you on a journey across the gorgeous forest of Nibel. Inspired by modern and classic franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Rayman and Castlevania, this platformer will catch you by surprise. As beautiful as the game looks, it will definitely put your skills to the test in a series of well-though levels designed to improve your prowess. Don’t get to comfortable; you never know when things will turn sour.
First and foremost, Moon Studios’ installment is a platformer. Gameplay wise, it’s pixel perfect and feature elements such as a talent tree, collectible resources, a form of XP leveling and a series of abilities that can be learned throughout the story. Since there are many enemy encounters, Ori is accompanied by a navi called Sein, who promises to assist our little guardian until the end of the quest. While movement abilities are mostly learned by Ori, offensive and defensive ones can be spammed by Sein; almost all of the abilities are resource free. There are other uses to the color orbs you find across Nibel.
Blue orbs are one of the most important gathering material; they are used for three things: creating checkpoints, opening gates and using Charge Flame. Blue orbs in Ori and the Blind Forest are critical since they allow the player to decide where they want to set a checkpoint and save their game. Once used, it will become your spawn point for the next time(s) you will die. This means that anything you get your hands on from that point on will be removed from you upon death, unless you save elsewhere. Note that there are a few pre-designated save points in the game. Additionally, they can be used to open gates. While some will require you to possess a certain number of available orbs to unlock them, others will require you to use the Charge Flame ability, which consumes one orb in the process.
In this forest, besides keystones and other items used to help Ori explore the land, there are a couple more resources that require attention: yellow and green orbs. While the yellow ones are used to boost the XP meter, which are ultimately used to unlock abilities from the talent tree, green ones recover health. Keep your eye out for the large ones, because they will permanently add a health slot to Ori’s life meter. However, these are usually hidden and require a little more effort to obtain.
Just like games from the Zelda series, you must save the spirit of the forest by completing three “dungeons” representing water, wind and fire (warmth). While on your quest, you will come across new enemies. Remember how Megaman games teached you about new foes by giving you a short “learning curve”? Well, Ori and the Blind Forest does the same – you are often put into a position where you will have a brief moment to understand how certain enemies respond and react to your presence.
After learning moves such as double jumping, stomping and wall climbing, the game starts to open new possibilities as to how you can engage enemies and travel from one area to another. Nowadays, many games start feeling boring and repetitive after 20 percent of gameplay completion. In Moon Studios game’s case, it becomes more and more interesting, challenging and punishing after that 20 percent mark is reached, especially when the Bash ability is unlocked.
Visually speaking, the game looks breathtaking. The color palette used really capture the essence of nature and its elements; when it’s lively, things look bright, and when its filled with sorrow and sadness, the colors have a darker feel to them. Playing Ori and the Blind Forest while paying attention to the emotions felt through the colors is like listening to a concerto that has its ups and downs. Artistically speaking, this game should easily make it in your top ten of best looking games.
As beautiful and delicate as the game looks, as inspiring and stunning the musical score sounds, the mix between the storytelling, the colors used and the sounds give the game a level of immersion some platformers are unable to achieve. Giving that genre life isn’t all about having all these three elements in sync, but in Ori and the Blind Forest’s case, it is that portrayed combo that make it what it is, a magnificent piece of art.
Unfortunately, when it comes to after completion gameplay, there is nothing you can do. However, during your run of the game, you have plenty of time and liberty to grab everything there is to find in the map. A warning though, you will have to fight your way through critters again since, and you will notice that early on, they have a short re-spawn counter. Best word of advice, enjoy it as much as you can, for as long as you can!
Ori and the Blind Forest is a fantastic game that brings many nostalgic memories throughout its gameplay. You will feel traces from some of the best 90’s games Nintendo has to offer which, Moon Studios believed was necessary to bring back old school platforming sensations. Besides very minor slowdowns that can sort of be prevented by switching some options on and off, the game is a great example of how platformers should be like. It is intuitive, challenging, immersive, punishing, pixel perfect and, in this case, nostalgic. To put it in short words, Ori and the Blind Forest is a marvelous platforming experience filled with original and mesmerizing gameplay.
Playing Ori and the Blind Forest was a superb experience for me. Personally speaking, I found that the references made to Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania were really clever. I even found the Triforce in the game engraved on one of the trees, which brought me back in time to when I emjoyed searching for easter eggs in games.
Overall, I was quite satisfied with Moon Studios’ work on the game. As I mentioned in the review, nowadays, it comes to no surprise to play a title that becomes tedious after completing a fifth of it. However, in this case, the more you advance, the more new abilities you discover that completely changes the options in which you can engage puzzles and enemies. What seemed straight forward at first can end up requiring you to be a little more instinctive, meaning you will have to think on your feet with lighting fast reflexes.