Set amidst a fantastical world, Ori and the Blind Forest offers something new and refreshing. Although there have been a few platform adventure games like this laden with bright and colorful graphics but none before were delivered so well. The eye-catching graphics, captivating story and the appealing, and somewhat calm, music make for one very fun and exciting gameplay experience. As a matter of fact after having played too many games with guns ablazing or zombies dominating your screen, Ori and the Blind Forest is a refreshing treat for the average gamers.
There are some games that take a while and require some getting used to before they grow on you, while there are also a few that manages to captivate you from the very beginning. Ori and the Blind Forest is definitely one of the latter. The game starts with a heart-touching prologue with a strange voice narrating in some weird language which is translated and posted on screen as subtitles. The loud and beautiful music in the background helps build the mood for the prologue which leaves you feeling sorry for our protagonist Ori.
Ori and the Blind Forest is presented as a 2D scroller with certain shadow effects that makes it look 3D. The game comes with a variety of moves ranging from the typical jumps, ducks, hits and grabs to special abilities and powers that are unlockable. However, the game becomes more challenging as you unlock more abilities. At times you might even find Ori’s enemies more powerful than him, but this puts you and your opponents on a level playing field. There are a few abilities that are new and exciting, something you might have never seen before in other games, such as the ability called Bash, which allows Ori to grab his enemies and jump off of them mid air.
The expansive in-game map offers many challenges but none too big to overcome. During his quest, Ori is confronted with a variety of enemies ranging from venom spewing mobile plants to stomping ape-like animals. The map has plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered. Exploration is key. At times though it may take more than leaping and running to accomplish what you want. The gameplay is intuitive and requires fast decision-making on your part. Sometimes the game requires more than one attempt to pass a level, so it could be quite challenging for players to get it right the first time because that doesn’t always happen. As you help Ori unlock more powers, the game becomes more addicting to play. Finding hidden artifacts and secrets is fun. The downside of the game though is that being an exploratory action adventure game, you’ll find yourself having to backtrack your path a few times in order to reach certain areas or open certain gateways that weren’t available the first time. The save mechanism in this game is new and although disliked by some but I for one like it as it now makes saving your game a carefully planned tactic rather than a privilege. For instance, you can only save your game when you’ve attained enough energy resources, which fortunately are abundantly available throughout the game. However, keep in mind that there are no automatic checkpoints so save your game often.
For every criticism to be made about its gameplay, Ori and the Blind Forest makes up for with its beautiful, heart-warming story. This is an engaging story of friendship and loss that’s brilliantly told with powerful music to accompany its gorgeous visuals. The art style is obviously influenced by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli’s illustrations and are stunning to look at. With bright colors and soft shadows and painting-type look, the environment of the game will surely appeal to gamers of all ages.
Gareth Coker, the music director for Ori and the Blind Forest has done a marvelous job with the game’s soundtrack. The powerful, beautiful music that plays in the background throughout the game does a great job of holding onto your attention. With beautiful use of flute and piano, it’s one of those soundtracks that glues you into the story and in turn makes you emotionally invested in the characters and the game itself. Coker’s music is a delight.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a well made game and feels quite innovative. The 2D side-scrolling experience is unique and should offer gamers a refreshing break from the 3D worlds that we are so used to seeing in many of the games that dominate the markets nowadays.