Feel free to either watch the review below or read it, the old-fashioned way. I like to cater to all tastes.
Ori and the Blind Forest is my favourite indie game of 2015 and is the only Indie game that in my mind rivals the big releases such as Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid 5, not in scale, certainly, as while you won’t be disappointed by the amount gameplay you get from this game, in terms of its cost it’s not a goliath, but in terms of quality this game is one that I wouldn’t hesitate in mentioning in the same sentence as the greats. Like the titles mentioned above, Ori and the Blind forest feels every bit like a labour of love and dedication, with just about every element as polished as it can be and with not a single area or aspect left feeling cobbled together or just thrown in for padding. The game has a wonderful sense of flow from start to finish with the storyline, gameplay, environment and soundtrack all wonderfully incorporated and I would even say orchestrated, working in unity which leaves the game with an exquisite sense of cohesion.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a 2D platform game, nostalgically reminiscent of the classic era of platform games such as Sonic The Hedgehog and Mario, but the difficulty level is closer to Super Meat Boy. If you grew up playing the old Nintendo and Mega Drive platform games, then you’ll likely really enjoy this one, but I wouldn’t suggest that you hand it to your six year old, as while the game starts easy enough, the difficulty quickly ramps up. And I have to confess that by the last third of the game, I really, really wanted to hate the game for the crazy challenges it throws at you. But like a kitten that’s just done its business in your favourite pair of shoes, this game is just impossible to stay mad at, and the difficulty of the challenges just makes beating them all the more worthwhile. That being said, you do need a significant amount of patience to beat this game. If you like your games a cake walk, then I wouldn’t recommend this one.
It really was love at first sight for me with this game. I saw it being streamed on Twitch and after only a few minutes dived onto Steam to purchase a copy. The visuals are absolutely stunning, soft, atmospheric, hand painted and exquisitely detailed. You can often stand in one place and just admire the scenery. The only shame is that often in doing that you’ll get shot or pounced on by a re-spawned mob. The attention to detail and the variety across the game’s environments is really quite stunning.
I’ve always been a great believer in the fact that games are not only art forms but, in my opinion, are the most unique and evolved art forms of our culture and era. Films and TV can create really spectacular worlds and tell stories, but computer games do all that plus add that final dimension of interactivity. They don’t just make people feel that they’re at the centre of the action, they put them at the centre of the action. And if I had to choose one game to champion that cause, then Ori and the Blind Forest would be it. You can take stills from any part of the game and it would look like a painting. For me Ori is the essence of video game art in its purest form of visual art coupled with interactivity, and no matter how the difficulty ramped up, I still found it a joy to play.
The storyline is every bit as hauntingly beautiful as the visuals. It tells the story of an orphan torn from the great tree during a storm and then plunged into a battle to save the world from destruction across windy cliff tops, violent volcanoes and frozen wastes. Often in platform games after an hour or so of play, you’ll start noticing repetition, like area’s you’d crossed a short while back with just a few added spikes here and there to differentiate, but no one area looks the same as another in Ori. There’s no copy and paste of geometry, with the only familiarity being the occasional back tracking through areas, but even this feels fresh as with new abilities continuously being added to Ori’s repertoire, areas which at first proved frustratingly out of reach the first time through, are generally accessible the second time allowing access to extra rewards and the opening of shortcuts, or entirely new areas to explore.
I really loved the way the story is echoed by Ori’s abilities, which start comparatively weak and basic but grow in variety and strength along with the character’s confidence and experience, and as a player I found my skills growing with the character’s as the game difficulty level rose which allowed me to really identify with Ori’s struggle against sometimes seemingly impossible tasks.
The difficulty level is high and my only criticism is that the controls sometimes do let the game down, as there were a few occasions where I felt like I was battling the controls as much as the game’s environment. The controls in Ori don’t feel as sharp and precise as they should be in a game of this type. When you add to that a few questionable choices with the button bindings, for example the dive button which is fine in normal play, but when you’re floating across a bed of spikes and you instinctively hit the down button to glide the leaf down only for Ori to dive from his leaf right on to said spike pit, it can get a tad frustrating. However, these are minor niggles in an otherwise outstanding game.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite games of 2015 and if you enjoy a good platform game and haven’t given it a try then I strongly suggest that you give it a look.
Exquisite Environmental Detail
Excellent Atmospherics and Effects
Well Designed Puzzle Elements
Could Prove Too Challenging For Those Who Lack Patience
Control’s Lack a Little in Precision
Button Bindings Can Occasionally Cause Trouble