This is going to be a humble gamer’s Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition game review, an original work by Moon Studio’s that follows a magical catlike character as he tries to restore his home forest before everything is lost. It is the first game of a beautiful, interesting and challenging series. I know it’s been a few years since its release, but I’ve finally gotten around to playing it since it was sitting far down in my backlog of games to finish.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is out now, but that wasn’t one of the reasons why I decided to play the game after all this time. At first, I wasn’t interested because it is a platformer which is not the type of game that I usually play, but once I caught a few glimpses of this while browsing on Twitch, it got me interested.
Here are the five points that I’m going to be focusing on in this review:
- Game mechanics
- Open world concept platformer
- Graphics and Music
The Story of Ori
We’re going to start off with some story info on the world of Ori. If you can get yourself off the start menu which looks absolutely spectacular and has amazingly soothing music, you’ll be introduced to a giant tree. This tree is the source of all light and life, a huge storm is happening and you see a lone light feather/leaf break free who turns out to be Ori, the catlike creature that you will be playing as.
The main objective of Ori and the Blind Forest is for Ori to help his “father” tree regain its source of light which was taken by a dark and vengeful bird, resulting in the land dying. There is a very touching reason as to why the bird did what it did, it makes you feel bad for it actually, if you have a heart that is. It’s best to experience this heart-warming story yourself if you want to find out more.
As you progress to different areas, text will start to appear in the background once you get to certain places which is a unique way to tell the story without breaking immersion. You know how sometimes when you get to a progression point there is a short transition to a cut scene via a black screen or a full on loading screen? Well, Ori and the Blind Forest weaves its narration into the world itself, you still have full control over Ori, most times.
There are some narration points where the game takes away your control, but the world doesn’t become blurred or transport you to a different position as you get into a cut scene or conversation with an NPC which further enhances immersion. A genius way to tell a story really.
Smooth and Immersive Gameplay
What else makes a game enjoyable? When the controls and input commands are very responsive and actually does what you want it to do. Gameplay is so smooth it’s like a warm knife through butter, the motions of the characters and enemies in game are so fluid, like flowing water.
Jumping, swimming, fighting and all other aspects of the game blend so well together it makes for a very soothing and immersive experience. As you’re exploring the world and doing all kinds of acrobatics and parkour to get to other platforms, each ability that Ori learns is integrated so well that sometimes it gets annoying.
One example of this is the stomping ability, especially when trying to escape from one of the major areas after reactivation. When jumping to the side in order to cross a great chasm full of spikes, accidentally pushing down on the joystick will make Ori turn into a downward spinning ball, sending you straight into the spikes of death.
All the abilities are easy to activate and are key bound in a way that makes sense, they also don’t need you to adopt an awkward hand position in order to do the actions you want to do. Though, even with the controls set up this way, your fingers can get sore.
There is a lot of jumping involved and your right thumb is in charge of all that as well as the attack button so you’re constantly switching and using those two input commands as you’re progressing through the world, it can be quite a workout for that very important digit of yours.
Loading screens aren’t a thing in Ori and the Blind Forest or if they are, I hardly noticed them, unless you’re looking for it I suppose. This is attributed to how well-designed this game is and due to it being a side scroller as well. I don’t know how they did it, but Moon Studios knows how to make a game feel like one interesting and interconnected world.
Transition between actions as well as going from one screen to the next is not noticeable, it flows really well. I was surprised and delighted to know that when jumping into the water and swimming, there was no delay between the two actions. Every other game that has swimming usually has a pause from once you get into the water before you start swimming. Not Ori, it’s like you become the water itself as soon as you hit it.
That goes for the entire game as well, you feel like you’re at one with the world you’re playing through.
Open World Platformer
How is this platformer open world? This is actually quite interesting really. Ori and the Blind Forest has laid out its map very well, as I’ve mentioned previously, there were no loading screens (that I’ve noticed anyway) involved other than when starting the game and once you get to the credits.
The whole map is there and ready for you to explore, the narration gently nudges you in the right direction to progress the story with the help of ingenious placements of obstacles that prevent you from straying too far off the path, though this does not mean you are blocked off from exploring the other areas.
In truth, you can go wherever you want and discover as much of the section as you want, the only limitation is what abilities Ori has yet to learn in order to get to the farthest corner of the map to uncover all the hidden secrets. These abilities are acquired of course, by following the story and going to the highlighted areas on the map, but make sure to go down every path on the way there.
As the saying goes, the journey is more important than the destination and more fun too. The environments are so artfully crafted that it compels you to explore as much as possible.
Health orbs, skill orbs and mana orbs can be found all over the map to increase your survivability and let you enhance some skills that will help you reach these seemingly unreachable places on the map.
Combat is Fluid and Challenging
As for the combat, it can be challenging. You have to juggle a lot of things and keep your eyes wide open for any attacks and projectiles coming your way. Learning enemy attack patterns is key, sometimes you have to multitask when taking out enemies. Their tracking is on point too so you have to get your timing right if you’re planning on dodging and you always have to keep moving.
While playing, I always had trouble with this one enemy type; a blob that shoots 3 projectiles that are like sticky bombs. Beating this kind of enemy requires the multitasking that I mentioned, you have to stay in range for your own shots to land and watch out for the spikes that it shoots as well as the ones that have planted themselves into the ground around you as they will explode, dealing damage to Ori.
Attacking is pretty simple and straightforward, it’s just the one button that you spam. It may not have combos, but there can be a lot happening on the screen and you don’t want to have to think or worry about which combination of buttons you have to press in order to defeat the aggressors.
Flipping, rolling, jumping and even using enemies as spring boards to reach new heights is effortless. You can deflect projectiles back at your foes and give them a taste of their own medicine, all while looking visually stunning, a fantastic blend of style and combat.
Beautiful Graphics and Enchanting Music
These are actually the biggest reasons why I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give Ori and the Blind Forest a try. My first glimpse of how the game looked in trailers and other playthroughs had me going “WHOA, the game looks AMAZING, I want to play THAT!”
Honestly, one of the best looking platformer games out there in my opinion, then again, this is the only one that I actually really paid attention to. Sure there are other ones, but Ori and the Blind Forest has vibrant colours, interesting looking environments and a world that looks alive. Grass that actually sways and moves aside as you move through it. Hanging platforms that swing when you land and climb on them in response to the force Ori exerts on them.
A game that actually follows some real world physics, unlike some others where it seems like every surface is a solid unmoving rock that doesn’t yield or give any indication that your character is on it.
Lastly, the music. It is absolutely beautiful, when I first booted up the game and got to the start menu, I just could not start right away. I don’t know how long I sat on the “Start New Game” option while listening to its main theme song. It’s the kind of music that makes you just want to spread yourself on the couch and close your eyes while it caresses and soothes your ears (maybe even your soul).
It can also be great background music for studying or just taking a nice long and relaxing bath. I usually don’t talk about game soundtracks, but this one is just that good and I thought it was worth mentioning.
9/10 Fantastic, it is well worth playing
For my first ever REAL experience of a platformer style game, it was a resounding success and has turned me into a fan of the franchise. I will definitely be playing Ori and the Will of the Wisps in the near future. This game has opened up a new genre of gaming to me that, up until this point, I ignored and overlooked.
I hope this has helped some people open up to the possibility of trying this game and maybe even play its second installment. Maybe you’ve already played Ori and the Blind Forest back when it first came out and are just refreshing your memory or revisiting it before starting up the sequel.
In any case, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this game. Have you played it before? What did you think of it and are you having fun? That’s the most important thing, always have fun, that’s what games are for after all. Looking forward to your comments down below! You can check out my other posts here if you want more.