I’m actually in a slightly tricky spot for writing about Ori and the Blind Forest, because sickness got in the way of my 12-day #loveindies daily goal. So while I started the game, I haven’t gotten substantially into it. Still, I feel safe saying my first impressions were more than enough to make me want to recommend this platformer.
The debut game from Vienna-based Moon Studios, Ori and the Blind Forest is a magical experience, and likely to become one of my “must play” recommendations. It’s no wonder the title was so well-received, nor is it any wonder that there’s a sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, on the way as well. I hadn’t even gotten off the title screen before I realized that I was going to fall deeply in love with Ori.
The opening for Ori and the Blind Forest is so stunningly, heartstoppingly beautiful that it’s hard to believe it’s a full-length game. I’m actually inclined to say it’s the most lovely thing I’ve played this year – and believe me, the bar is set pretty high. Between the stunning graphics and gorgeous music, Ori is a world I feel like I could spend hours in without getting tired. Unfortunately, the opening for Ori and the Blind Forest is also absolutely heartbreaking (I will fully admit to shedding some tears) – made extra emotional by the sheer beauty of it all.
Eventually, the player takes control of Ori (and eventually Sein – a protective spirit – as well), and the game begins – the forest is dying, and it’s up to Ori to bring back balance to the world.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a metroidvania 2D platformer with mostly familiar mechanics. With plenty of enemies along the way, Sein helps protect Ori by shooting spirit flames to destroy dangers and obstacles, while Ori unlocks more movement abilities over time. By collecting items and shards along the way, players will find keys, ability points, and other details to make life easier. At each save point, the skill tree can be accessed, allowing players to choose new upgrades ranging from attack power to the ability to reuse save points (which originally are only one-time use).
As a walking tragedy of random button presses and clumsy movement, I tend to not play platformers on mouse and keyboard, but Ori plays like a dream on controller, and it’s not at all difficult to get used to the gameplay. Anyone familiar with platformers should be able to jump right in without any trouble at all. Ori also features four difficulty options, ranging from easy to a one-life option where you only have one chance to make it through. The end result is a game that can be as challenging or accessible, within reason, as the player needs it to be.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a stunning debut, worth playing for any lover of platformers. Players should find plenty to love within, from the beautiful, haunting atmosphere to the moving story, to the smooth gameplay.
Already played and eager for more? Ori and the Will of the Wisps is expected out this year! Make sure to check out Moon Studios’ website to keep updated on this upcoming release that’s sure to be another beautiful experience.