Ori and the Blind Forest
By: Amanda "Soren" Carr | Reads: 176
At first glance, Ori and the Blind Forest appears to be a lovely tale set in a majestic forest filled with loveable creatures. However, we quickly learn that appearances can be deceiving. The first 10 minute cinematic takes us on an emotional rollercoaster and sets the stage for a deeply engaging tale involving Ori, our tiny lemur like hero. Of course things are never simple and our intrepid little adventurer will have to traverse a huge 2D landscape to retrieve three stolen elements that have rendered the forest blind and dying. I’m not going to go into detail as far as the introduction because I feel it’s something that players should experience and discover on their own.
Ori is a Metroidvania-style adventure that requires everything from a hair trigger finger to intricate puzzle solving abilities and a healthy dose of patience. Progress is often locked behind the need to achieve certain skills or abilities, however once you have that ability, it only further unlocks Ori’s world. No skill or ability is forgotten for long and the sooner you familiarize yourself with each ability the better off you are. In the vein of Zelda or Castlevania exploration is highly encouraged. Often you will find yourself revisiting area’s you’ve already been to get items that were unavailable on your first pass through.
As normal with platformer like games, Ori has a fairly reasonable difficulty that ramps up as you progress through each area. They often end in a huge difficulty spike, where a single mistake can be the death of you. For instance, one of the skills Ori can learn is to reflect projectiles and leap backward in the opposite direction. The use of the skill involves surrounding awareness and crucial timing. Being one second late could result in the projectile not being reflected or you could launch ori into a wall of spikes or flying crows. In one of the games many heart racing moments, Ori must use the projectile reflection to travel up a large tree as it fills with water. Miss one jump and the water will swallow you whole. Often these areas require multiple attempts to succeed. It can be frustrating if you just want to move on, so save and save often. That frustration however, is tempered quite nicely by the pure excitement and relief you feel when you do finally succeed.
Ori responds wonderfully with the use of a controller allowing you the finesse to maneuver precisely how you want. This is key for areas that require a high degree of precision to traverse through. Whether it’s double jumping, gliding, wall climbing, or using projectile reflection to travel to new heights, the high responsiveness of the controller makes a character as agile and fast as Ori extremely fun to play.
Aside from a great story and fantastic game play, Ori offers players an audio and visual treat. 2D landscapes build upon each other give the world a sense of depth. Thick trees rise in the background. Embers from a fire crackle behind you. Wisps of fog gently rise and fall in the distance. Leaves float down gently in the foreground. There are times when the environment also comes into play. Soft glowing blue plants unfurl as you jut toward them forming a platform to climb or cross. The soundtrack accompanies the beautiful scenery and helps to breathe life into the environment without overpowering it, giving the game a very traditional feel.
The story itself is told through the actions of Ori as you explore and in rare instances, a narrator that chimes in a language the player can’t understand, similar to games such as Okami. It helps to guide you in a general direction without holding your hand. One thing Ori does really well is giving characterization and personality in the forests creatures. Very quickly players will learn that not all enemies are what they seem and that help can come from the most unlikely of places.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful, inventive take on the classic Metroidvania game style. It’s ability to make players care about the forest and its creatures is nothing short of remarkable. Even with its above average difficulty with spikes that threaten to send your controllers flying and your blood pressure through the roof, I would still highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys platform style gaming. Currently Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition can be found on the Steam Store for PC.
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About the Author
Amanda "Soren" Carr
Amanda hails from the Great White North and contrary to popular belief doesn't live in an igloo, travel by dogsled team, or own a horde of savage warmongering beavers.
When she's not busy being a Master Builder by day, you can find her chilling with friends, mooching chow from her family, or gaming up a storm in the MMO-o-sphere. Currently she can be found slaying Dragons in GW2 and backstabbing her way to notoriety in ESO.
She's always had an urge to write (has a super-secret ff.net account and writes for a forum based rpg) so when the opportunity to work on Gaiscioch Magazine gave her a swift kick to the backside, she took it, ran, and hasn't looked back.
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