Ori and the Blind Forest is a masterpiece of gaming.
It’s one of the best Xbox One games available, and one of the best new franchises to emerge this generation. While Moon Studios co-founder Gennadiy Korol advised Ori was profitable for the studio within a few weeks from its 2015 launch, so many people are still not aware of this incredible experience.
I wanted to write this piece to try and share why Ori and the Blind Forest is worth playing, in hopes that it may urge others to explore this amazing world Moon Studios has created.
Ori and the Blind Forest is visually striking, from the very first trailer released it was clear Ori was going to be visually spectacular. The vibrant colours throughout the world not only look amazing, but help emphasise the mood of each area. Vibrant blues and greens shower the earlier levels, showcasing the hope Ori has to restore the world to its former glory. Move deeper into the game, and darker purples, reds and blues emphasise the feeling of loss, fear and rage. All these feelings are very much intentionally evoked, and correlate with the story as you experience this emotional narrative.
The same emotions that are emphasised by the visuals are also emphasised by the music. The opening scenes from Ori and the Blind Forest are filled with joy, laughter and love. But when the game takes an emotional turn, that joy ceases, replaced by sorrow and that sadness is conveyed by the soundtrack. Ori and the Blind Forest is a game that truly knows what emotion it wants to convey at every point in time, utilising visuals and sound to create a rollercoaster of sensations. Ori and the Blind Forest will not shy away from hitting you emotionally, but also willing to provide an exhilarating adventure as you outrun certain doom.
Ori and the Blind Forest benefits from the emotional impact of the visuals and the soundtrack, but none of this would land without the gripping story. Ori and the Blind Forest is a platformer that has a story to tell and creates an experience you will never forget. It does this with a bare minimum of dialogue, and instead with truly well-constructed cut scenes. These allow the player to interpret what is happening on screen, and due to this it makes the emotional gut-punches even harder. Within the first half an hour, you will bond with these characters, you experience their joy, sorrow and wonder, in what I believe is one of the best introductions I have ever experienced in gaming.
I’d love to dive deeper into the story of Ori and the Blind Forest, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the story in any shape or form. Whilst I knew what was going to happen (having played before) it didn’t make the impact of the story any less, but for new players I’d suggest experiencing this narrative free of any story implications.
Ori and the Blind Forest wouldn’t be as amazing as it is, without the addictively satisfying moment to moment gameplay. In the end games live and die by the gameplay experience they deliver, and Ori and the Blind Forest provides an intuitive, intense and riveting gameplay offering. When you first control Ori it’s clear he isn’t a tough character, he’s agile and nimble, but doesn’t take a lot of damage. While you explore the Metroid-vania styled world, you learn new abilities, increase your skills and strengthen Ori. You will begin to feel more powerful, you become better equipped and you become elegant as you shoot through the sky, rebounding off enemy projectiles and climbing walls in an instant. Ori and the Blind Forest rewards exploration in a way that makes gameplay continue to improve during the adventure, keeping the experience fresh and exhilarating throughout the 10 hour journey.
The intensity and challenge of Ori and the Blind Forest is always there, which is deceptively hidden behind the adorable visuals. But the challenge is increased exponentially during the intense escape sections throughout the game. These challenges expect precision and if you die, you will restart the entire escape again. Whilst these segments are truly challenging, they never feel unfair. Ori and the Blind Forest provides you will the necessary tools and never pulls the rug from under you. With every death you suffer you learn something new, and you increase your skills to face this true test. These scenes are absolutely fantastic, and while you will die a lot (I died over 300 times collectively) you will experience an incredible rush that is rarely matched. During these escapes you will gracefully bound through the air, surviving by the slightest margin, whilst the music swells lifting the intensity to a new level. When you finally do succeed, these scenes feel like the true culmination of brilliant sound design, beautiful visuals and precision gameplay, which have created a thrilling experience you will want to play again.
This is an experience that not only succeeds on almost every level, but exceeds those expectations in ways few games manage. Ori and the Blind Forest is a masterpiece, and it’s a game I recommend to absolutely everyone.
Now, can I please have the release date for Ori and the Will of the Wisps? 😉