Ori and the Blind Forest
The story is about Ori, a white guardian of the Spirit Tree, who long ago fell into the forest when a fierce storm hit the tree, and was rescued by Naru, a bear-like being. Naru raise, protected and fed Ori. At first, life with Naru was peaceful and joyful, but soon the forest started to die and food began to be scarce. With her last strengths, Naru left Ori a single fruit, before passing away. Heartbroken Ori wanders through the woods, weak and without the will to carry on, and shortly after, passes away. He was, however, revived by the Spirit Tree, who sent him on a quest to find a light spirit named Sein, and together rekindle 3 elements, and bring life back into the world. If this doesn’t shake you at least a little, don’t worry. This happens in the very first few minutes and there is so much more.
The gameplay is super fun.
Being a metroidvania game, most of the time we will be jumping (and double jumping, triple jumping..), dashing, swimming, fighting, charging attacks and most importantly, losing and redoing everything again because we forgot to save the game. Damn.
We start with little health and mana, but along our journey we will find upgrades for both. And while health is important, the game is always fair. There are spikes, lava, multiple environmental objects and several type of enemies, each with their own patterns. But there is always a way to beat that specific scenario. You just need to have quick reflexes.
Every now and then we will learn new abilities: wall climbing, double jumping, gliding, smashing weak object and more. Every time we step on a new area there will be unobtainable items, and we will need to backtrack with these new abilities to progress. Not all of them are important, but if you are an achievement hunter, you are in for a meaty bone.
On top of these abilities, we can learn new traits by defeating enemies. They reward AP points, and we can use them to power up our attacks, senses and move set. There are 3 branches to level up, all three of them with a very specific goal where you can, for instance, turn a double jump into a triple jump, make our attacks stronger and faster, and reveal collectibles on the map, among other things.
Regarding mana: it’s used to create ‘soul links’, which serve as checkpoints. That’s right, you create your own checkpoints. You cannot, however, create them too close to some enemies or in reflex-heavy sections that require fast thinking, as that would break the game’s difficulty. You have to keep checkpoints in mind — lots of times I found myself playing for around 10 to 15 minutes without remembering to create checkpoints, and of course, I then died and had to replay through that entire section. That can be really frustrating. Above all, be really careful where you put your soul links, as the game will always continue from the latest one. Once I put a checkpoint in a very specific area where it was impossible to leave without dying… So I had to start the game all over again.
The artwork is beautiful.
Stunning and detailed visuals. Every single area of the game feels and looks perfect. And it gets better once you start rekindling the elements. From the forest to the very end, the environment is constantly evolving. This is key for a metroidvania game, where backtracking to discover secret areas with new abilities is the core of the game. The title is lovingly drawn, full of light and colour, and deeply layered with scenic detail. Beautiful colors blend with the characters and enemies’ design. And the smart world design goes in harmony with the soundtrack. A relaxing, peaceful and emotive track that quickly mutates with scripted events that will fill your tension meter up.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a masterpiece that features stunning visuals, a gorgeous soundtrack, an immersive story and incredibly fun gameplay. While short on length and little replay value, it is an excellent platformer that does almost everything right. A must play for fans of the genre.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
The definitive edition aims to improve an already outstanding game. The new content includes more difficulty levels, two new environments, two new abilities, and fast travel locations in the form of Spirit Wells.
The new environments are next to the first Spirit Well, one of the new fast travel locations. In these areas, you will learn more about Naru’s while learning new abilities. The first environment that you will come across is Black Root Burrows, a deep black area where the only light you will have is around Ori and certain objects. You will have to navigate this area by finding glowing platforms, many of which you will not see until you are close enough to them with a light orb. This offered a fun new challenge in a beautiful environment. Once you complete that section, the entire area will be lit up and you will acquire the Dash ability, which can be used to quickly dash short distances.
The next environment is Lost Grove, and it is the complete opposite. Fully colorful and where you will learn Light Burst. This ability allows Ori to throw a projectile into the air, at the cost of Energy cells, which can then be used in conjunction with Bash to propel you to areas otherwise inaccessible. All you need to do is throw the projectile with your left bumper and then use your Bash ability.
Both new areas offer more context as to why Naru helped Ori in the beginning of the game. The new bit of story is both touching and sad, and worth every single penny. I won’t spoil it.
Additional goodies include four different difficulties. A masochistic One Life difficulty, Hard for those who want a challenge without losing their sanity, Normal for those who want to experience a casual game and then Easy, for those who are here just for the story and a relaxed time.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is a game that will be with you long after you beat it. It is as memorable as when originally released, but better. Also, the developers gave players a choice to upgrade to the Definitive Edition at a lower price if they already owned the original Ori and the Blind Forest. Go get it.