Ori and the Blind Forest is a rare treat, something we don’t much see in the game industry. Hailing as a metroid-vania style side scrolling platformer game, Ori puts you in control of, well, Ori. A white guardian spirit who has fallen from the spirit tree, Ori is accompanied by the Sein, the games equivalent to Zelda’s Navi. After starting up Ori, I was more drawn in to the games beautiful story then I have been with many other games, truthfully brought to tears within the first thirty minutes. Through gorgeous cutscenes and wonderfully intricate environments, Ori and the Blind Forest draws you in and immerses you, leaving you to bask in the glory of a true next-generation graphical accomplishment.
In what I can only describe as a successor to Dust: An Elysian Tale, Ori’s gameplay is certainly in the category of metroid-vania. This means you’ll be learning new abilities as you progress which will allow for more exploration in previous areas, as well as moving forward. The game also certainly has some intense platforming actions that will call for precise movement and timing, demanding a steady hand. These can be frustrating at times, but thankfully it’s the type of frustrating that rewards you with a sense of extreme satisfaction. The other mechanics of the game are very simple and straightforward, and the pacing is done well enough so that you never feel overwhelmed or confused. Each part fits in like a proper piece of the puzzle, rewarding you for your ingenuity in remembering to combine both new and old skills. There’s something unique to be said about Ori’s gameplay, and that’s the fact that it’s just fun. Jumping around from place to place in the wonderfully crafted environment is a charming feat and something you’ll want to do, just because.
The story of Ori and the Blind Forest is presented to you through a few great cutscenes and largely through text that narrates across the screen as you play. I say narrates because the great spirit tree seems to be the one telling this story. Through dialog and context clues you come to find out great things about this forest, Ori, and the inhabitants within it. You’ll venture between various areas from the low, overgrown brush of the forest to the high, steamy hot volcanic peak. In each area you’ll explore a different dungeon where you’ll learn or use a new ability. These dungeons, contrary to the popular system of games, are hard. You will die. You will get frustrated. Yet you will feel absolutely amazing once you nail the section so perfectly that you’re able to complete it.
This is one of Ori’s strongest points, as I mentioned earlier. Rewarding players for their abilities in playing is something games don’t do enough, and knowing that a reward is coming is certainly motivation to continue to push through the aggravating challenges.
You can’t talk about Ori without talking about its core combat, which is admittedly its weakest point. For the first half of the game, the only attack you have as Ori is shooting an auto-aiming ball of light. This leads to Ori’s combat meaning to mash the attack button and try your best to dodge the enemies attacks which often get missed in the swirl of battle. This is one of the games most frustrating points and one that is only remedied about three hours in to the game when you begin to gain other attack systems. While not enough of a knock for me to tell you not to play it, you should certainly be warned about it – because it will bother you.
At a completion time of approximately 10-12 hours, Ori and the Blind Forest certainly isn’t the longest of games, the replayability isn’t exactly its greatest trait, but the experience alone is worth the investment. With the wonderfully inspiring art style, a fun, intense, and rewarding combat system, a gloriously engrossing fairytale story, I cannot recommend Ori any higher. Ori is truly one of the strongest titles I’ve played on the Xbox One.
It’s worth pointing out that the absolutely gorgeous screenshot adorning the top of this post was taken by myself, in game. Yes, it’s really that beautiful.