Ladies, gents, and other such creatures, news be good! We have an awesome-ass game to review today! Ori and the Blind Forest is the subject of today’s ass kissery. This awesome little ball of luminescent fun is a 2D platformer. You’re Ori, a forest cat-like spirit, running through multiple levels, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies along the way with your little balls of energy.
The plot starts off on a stormy night when Ori is released into the world from the spirit tree, Nibel. An ape-like creature called Naru finds Ori and adopts him. They live together for a short while happily, until a cataclysmic event takes place. The tree of life releases a powerful light signal which was meant to summon Ori. However, living and growing up with Naru, Ori ignores the signal. On that night, a vengeful Owl called Kuro steals the light source from the life tree. The forest starts to slowly die, and Ori has to go on a quest to retrieve the light.
First things first. This game is absolutely GORGEOUS. It is a visual orgasm through and through. The colours, textures, effects are absolutely magnificent. Coupled with those, you have a really haunting and beautiful soundtrack by Gareth Coker. The combination of the visual and musical quality really immerses you into a fairy tale world of beauty and wonder. You can genuinely forget that you’re sitting in your chair playing a game, and you can just sink into the innocent and wonderful beauty the narrative delivers. I’m not one to usually rave about graphics, as I do generally feel that they don’t contribute all that much to games. But in this case, they are actually a part of the game. They enhance the immersive and poetic experience of the game. Unbelievably great job, 10/10!
Now, as for the actual gameplay experience, it is also very solid. It’s pretty standard as far as platformers go. You run around, jump over obstacles, fight the odd enemy, try and solve puzzles and tricky obstacles. The controls are pretty straight forward. You have your directional buttons, jump, and shoot. Nothing too fancy or difficult. You also use the mouse to target your enemies, which is also quite easy.
What makes it stand out as a platformer is all the upgrades and nifty little mechanics. When you complete certain levels, you run into spirit trees, which more often than not will give you some kind of power up. The ability to break obstacles, do a double jump, climb and slide down walls, etc. While most of these mechanics are nothing new to the genre, when integrated effectively, they make the gameplay very enjoyable. Your path forward isn’t always clear, so a lot of times you have to experiment with what you can and can not do, and the ambiguity gives you the feeling that you’re exploring the world rather than just being guided through it, which is a big plus.
There’s also nifty abilities which let you interact with the environment. One such is Bash Attack. Bash Attack allows you to use an enemy or an enemy projectile to give yourself a boost in any direction (which you control with the mouse). It also serves the dual purpose of redirecting the projectile attack, or pushing away the enemy. While in a lot of games like Devil May Cry and God of War this mechanic is nothing new, Ori does it in a way which feels FREE of a determined path. You can use the ability to do some really cool evasive tricks, you can do it to fling your enemies to their death, you can do it to get to some really high-to-reach places. You can do it to just evade attacks, or solve puzzles.
Again, this is a big plus for the game. I feel like I can explore this world at my own leisure. I can accumulate all these nifty abilities, and just go wondering around at my own pace. I don’t have to worry about following the guided path, accumulating points, or other trivial things like that. I can just immerse myself, and that’s a really big win for any gaming experience.
The leveling system is very simple and straight forward. You don’t have to be a big game buff to understand how it works. You have three different sets of skills: Offensive, Finding resources, Agile abilities. You pick which one you feel like you need at the time, and you just click. This contrasts greatly from games like Final Fantasy where you need 10 years of experience, a PhD, and an optimal combinations simulator to make the right decisions in your ability leveling.
So there we have it. I’ve only beaten the first third of the game, so I can’t lay down the final word until I reach the end. But as is, the game is fantastic. I’ve loved everything about it through and through. It’s beautiful, it’s alluring, it’s fun to play. It’s simple to understand and play, yet there are parts which will challenge you both in problem solving, and in just accomplishing difficult agile tasks. You get a perfect balance of both. It’s not too hard, and it’s not too easy, and it sure as hell is fun. Also, more likely than not, it will hit the feels. The story seems well written so far, and it definitely gets quite emotional and poetic on a few counts. I strongly recommend it, it’s probably one of the best games I’ve played in the last three years.
(HD, please ^^ )