The gaming palette for me this year has been somewhat sparse to say the least, but I can only see that as a positive as it allowed me to branch out in areas I wouldn’t normally do so. This is very much the case with Ori and the Blind Forest and boy am I glad I got to play this gem!
There are many reason that this game stands out for me and one of them is the heart warming story that developers Moon Studios have managed to create. Essentially it’s a platforming adventure game with metroid-vania type exploration and to be honest I love this type of genre anyway, but I really underestimated the games beauty. The story starts with you being introduced to the little guy; Ori. You find out that he fell out of a tree when he was little during a big storm, this paves the way for the next character introduction; Naru. Taken in by the giant beast (he’s a friendly fellow really) Ori is raised by him and there’s a ton of cute cutscenes involving them playing together as they’re growing up. It all gets a bit mellow from there on out, unfortunately *SPOILER ALERT* due to certain events involving a giant tree and a massive bird, the forest starts to wither and die along with your father figure Naru. It’s a real punch in the gut I must say and it leaves you feeling genuinely distraught for poor little Ori who’s left alone in the forest of Nibel *END OF SPOILERS*
Exploring the forest is a peaceful and serene adventure, the map is split into different regions and there’s a ton of collectibles to get along the way. Ori also has different abilities that you gain through leveling up and this enables you to progress to previously unreachable areas. So it does involve a lot of back tracking and general meandering. One of the joys I had when playing was the fact that the graphics are so pristine and crisp you could literally just stand in one spot for a good while admiring the scenery, it really is one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played. There are a couple of other characters you meet along your adventure as well, Gumo, who is kind of like a creepy spider looking thing but he’s nice enough and he helps you at various points. Then there is also Kuro who is essentially the villain of the story although there’s a much deeper message and underlying reason for his actions. He’s a giant bird and is relentless on pursing you, but stick it out till the end and there is a great twist which I am not going to spoil.
Each region has its own collectibles and it’s very easy to keep track of these, they can be shown on the map depending on how you upgrade your skill tree and eventually you’ll be able to see everything. Some may see that as a bit of an easy ride but the sheer scope of the map will still have you playing for a long time after you’ve completed the game. Ori has this floaty nature about him, his movement speed is quite slow essentially but it fits the game perfectly and you can upgrade Ori to give you extra jump height, climbing abilities and many others.
The game came out towards the beginning of the year and nothing touched me the way this story did, it leaves you with a warm, fuzzy glow yet also managed to portray a heartfelt message at the same time. I love games that have a deeper connection to the player and this is certainly one of them, if you haven’t already picked it up then I suggest putting some hours aside to traverse Nibel and find the wonders that lie within. A true delight from start to finish and an adventure I will never forget!
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