Ambitious game development is the key to creating a timeless classic. However, many bold innovators have also produced countless failed endeavors. Does Ori and the Blind Forest live up to the hype or have the developers' blind ambitions got the best of them?
Ori and the Blind Forest follows the story of Ori; a spirit who becomes adopted by a bear-like animal named Naru. After a tragic series of events, Ori goes on a journey to uncover the secrets of the forest and possibly restore life where it was once cruelly taken away. The first thing you'll notice is how breathtakingly beautiful the graphics are. Environments are multi-layered and painstakingly detailed while characters come alive with subtly smooth animation. It sure is quite a feast for the eyes. That being said, at times the visuals get in the way of gameplay. Foregrounds have the tendency to obstruct the action which can get rather annoying. Also, your character and attacks are rendered with a blue aura while enemies and their projectiles glow with a multitude of colours. This creates visual chaos in the heat of battle which can make avoiding attacks difficult to accomplish. Complaints aside, the music is phenomenal as it creates a lush atmosphere of wonderment. Overall, this is one awe-inspiringly presented adventure that'll surely gather a living room audience.
When you start your quest, your abilities are extremely limited. You can run and jump, but that's about it. Soon, you meet Sein who is a blue orb that acts as Ori's attack. As you progress, you'll unlock a plethora of acrobatic moves such as being able to launch off of walls and projectiles, jump multiple times in the air, swim, glide, and even ground-pound. After you acquire a wealth of these abilities, you'll experiment and try to master each one which can be an incredibly rewarding adventure in itself. The controls may take some getting used to simply because there are so many moves to learn, but it'll eventually feel like second nature after some needed practice.
Ori and the Blind Forest's campaign consists of one giant map with plenty of hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered. It's by no means a short adventure as it can take in the ballpark of ten hours to completely find everything. You'll traverse a handful of gorgeous well-crafted environments such as a frozen wasteland, a fiery volcano, and a serene lake. Well after you reach the end, you'll find yourself reflecting on all of the captivating sights and story segments from time to time since this is a truly unforgettable experience.
Although your journey may be a memorable one, that doesn't mean it's without faults. Save points are few and far between, but you have the option to create your own by using some energy. Of course you'd want to conserve as much of this energy as you can, so you probably won't be saving at every corner. You would think that if you have full health that there's no reason to save, but you'll quickly realise that this is a mistake. There are tons of traps waiting to take your life in one or two hits and you're not aware of what's coming next. Because of this, knowing when to save is quite tricky. After playing for a solid 15 minutes while collecting a few hidden items, slaying some tough enemies, and uncovering a large portion of the map, you can die in an instant from a laser or some lava and have to replay that entire sequence from your last save. Another issue is that you can't return to some locations so being able to complete the game 100% can be a frustrating undertaking in its own right. Also, upon beating the main story, your save file is basically useless since you can't load it at all. This means that perfectionists are forced to use a guide if they want to ensure that they're getting everything.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a fantastically beautiful journey, but it's by no means a perfect one since it contains a few hard to ignore flaws. However, if you can overlook its shortcomings, it may be one of the most memorable gaming experiences that you'll ever have.
- + Stunning graphics and atmospheric music
- + Ori's large array of acrobatic moves are a joy to master and experiment with
- + Lengthy adventure you won't soon forget
- - Frequent visual confusion occurs including foregrounds that obscure the action
- - Abrupt traps make you replay long segments
- - Plenty of missable content