Every so often a game comes along that pushes the boundaries of video game visuals and art direction. Ori and the Blind Forest by Moon Studios is one such game. It transports you to a world full of beauty, danger, exploration, and emotion like no other. It’s a game in its own category.
Within the first 10 minutes I was almost in full tear factory mode. You become invested immediately, and what Ori does to the player within the opening scene is what “UP” by Pixar did in its opening scene. It grabs you so hard you are forced to continue to find out what might come next.
You play as Ori, a small nimble creature (a forest spirit) that traverses a beautiful, naturalistic, and unfamiliar world in which he finds himself thrust to learn more about his origins. The only thing to do is move forward, but it’s not without its perils. To slap the genre of MetroidVania on this title would be fairly accurate, but it’s also heavy on platforming and RPG elements such that you learn new abilities via an experience points system. They can be chosen from 3 different branches depending on what your play style is, and can be maxed out by the end of the game.
Being a fan of Metroid style games, I was immediately at home with Ori. I would see something in the distance that I knew I couldn’t get, learn a new ability and come back to claim my prize. Thankfully the game allows you to learn abilities that make these items show up on the map, so no guesswork is involved in finding them. It was refreshing to see a developer put the time in to letting the player have more fun and worry less about writing everything down, or trying to remember what locations they would have to return to.
In addition to the painting like scenery, the soundtrack was equally as amazing. Tranquil music would play while exploring the world, and then ramp-up during a scene of particular importance, or when the situation takes a dire turn. It raises the tension well, and then gently calms the player down, allowing them to focus on exploring. It’s beautiful, and adds to your investment in the game and its environment incredibly well.
All in all, Ori and the Blind Forest was everything I could have wanted in a game of this genre. With beautiful music, well thought out move sets, gorgeous visuals, RPG elements, and a world that comes together seamlessly… there isn’t much more you could ask for. It’s truly a remarkable game and experience.
Tl:dr – Some people buy games based on story, art direction, or gameplay. Ori and the Blind Forest offers all 3, and brings them together in majestic harmony to create of the better games by an indie studio that I’ve played in years. It’s full of emotion, visual brilliance, and gameplay that shows the dedication and talent that Moon Studios put into this game. It’s a no brainer that if you like MetroidVania style games, or are just looking for a good platformer/RPG, Ori and the Blind Forest will satisfy your every need and leave you wanting more.
Rating – 9.5/10
Buy – Steam £14.99/$19.99