The simple to play but impossible to master platformer ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ jumps, grapples and ground pounds its way to Xbox One and PC
Grappling from lantern-to-lantern dodging neon balls of acidic sludge, I propel myself out of the hollow tree that is steadily flooding with water. This isn’t my first time through the cavern, though. By now, I have died a half dozen times as I try to escape the impending flood. My hands are sweaty, my thumb numb from rapidly pressing the grapple button and my head cluttered with expletives for my lackluster performance. The sense of dread is increasing as I climb higher in the tree than I ever have before, my heart thumps in my chest. I breach the top of the tree and the water spouts like a fire hydrant and I land safely in the nearby bushes. Never have I ever felt more accomplished at what feels like game mastery.
Of course, this sense of mastery is almost immediately crushed as the next section thrashes me just as hard as the previous one. This sense of punishment and accomplishment is the true essence of Ori and the Blind Forest, and that feeling is exactly what makes the title truly great.
In the game, you star as the adorable white creature, Ori. When Ori’s mother falls ill, you are cast out into the forest to re-illuminate and revitalize the world around you. As you battle neon porcupines, rams and owls, Ori gains the strength necessary to attempt to save his world. As you push Ori onward, the vibrant world becomes the true star of this unique adventure.
Of course, it’s easy to see that the gorgeous art direction of Ori is backbone of the title, but the incredible “metroid-vania” gameplay is what truly makes this game worth your time. Push and pull obstacles, simple combat, and mind-bending puzzle platforming might be standard in games today, but the polish Moon Studios has put into this title feels unique. Dying feels fair, surviving a battle feels triumphant and beating the game feels like a true accomplishment.
The music of ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ takes the backseat of to the gorgeous visuals and buttery gameplay, but that isn’t to say it isn’t just as great as the other parts that make up this awesome title.
Your own emotional ups and downs from successes and failures are also accompanied by an original story that packs its own roller coaster of emotions. Unless your heart is a shriveled up raisin, those feels will probably hit you before the first cutscene even ends. While the game has the price tag of a smaller scale game then say Call of Duty or Halo, Ori has more than enough content to satisfy gamers. After about 7.5 hours of gameplay, I completed the story and had the overall completion at 82%.
Ori and the Blind Forest might be a great platform well-worth its asking price, but that doesn’t mean the game is perfect. The game is marred with a few game-breaking glitches — some which have been reported to happen near the end of the story that result in the player needing to restart the entire story. When the game is about 7-10 hours long, that is as heart-breaking as it is infuriating. While I never faced any glitches such as this, I have heard horror stories from other gamers around the web. My biggest gripe with Ori, though, is a decision made by the developer. After the story mode is complete, you cannot go back and replay areas to snag those pesky experience orbs for achievements. On top of that, two of the roughly ten areas in the game do not allow for re-entry once you leave meaning if you did not collect all the orbs in the area, you will have to restart the game if you wish to collect them all. Collecting all the orbs throughout the game world is not necessary to beating the story line, but those wishing to grab all the achievement points for the game will find this decision by Moon Studios disappointing.
There is more that could be said about Ori, but in short, there is just so much that I don’t want to spoil about this astounding title. Even with my few gripes with developer decisions and apparent glitches, Ori still gets a strong recommendation from me. With a modest price of $20 MSRP, do you really have an excuse to not play the first exceptional game of 2015.