** In this post, I talk about the game Ori and The Blind Forest. There are spoilers for the game and it’s story**
In this game, you assume the role of Ori, a white guardian Spirit, and Sein, the “light and eyes” of the Forest Spirit tree and Ori’s guide. Ori fell from the Spirit Tree during a storm and was picked up by Naru, his adopted mother. A cataclysmic event causes the forest to wither and Naru to die of starvation. Alone, Ori collapses near the Spirit Tree and be restored by it. Later, Ori meets Sein and to restore the forest, Sein guides Ori to recover three of the main elements to Restore the Spirit Tree in the Forest of Nibel.
Back in my some games I’m looking forward from E3 Blog, Ori and the Will of the Wisps was one of the games that I was looking forward to. That week, Ori and the Blind Forest was on sale for half price on Xbox Live. Is it worth it for full price? That answer differs from person to person, I feel it can be. I purchased the game (half price off of course) and I’m glad I did. It follows the Metriodvania style of gameplay. The term Metroidvania combines the name of Metroid and Castlevania and features a large world where you explore and find hidden areas and secrets. A lot of the time, there are inaccessible areas until you acquire a new type of power that allows you reach those areas. Ori does this genre well. I didn’t feel stuck when I got to certain seemingly unreachable areas of the game and I found upgrades rather easily to find. I did like the ability to save anywhere in the game at the cost of an energy cell. It helped to stop unnecessary back travel. Even with that, the game constantly felt like Ori and the constant trail and error. I died many times and had to go back several minutes to a prior created Soul Link because I was out of energy cells to quick save. It was rather frustrating but satisfying when I finally conquered a difficult section.
The pacing was great but it could have used a boss battle or two. The game isn’t long and has quite a good amount of replay ability. The closest that the game comes to a boss battle is Kuro, an owl who lost her children when the spirit tree called out of Ori. Explained in flashbacks in the game, when the Spirit Tree released a flash of light to look for Ori, it killed all of Kuro’s children except for one egg that didn’t hatch. Kuro took away the core of the spirit tree to save her last egg. Even then, it occurs in the later part of the game and your just hiding and running away from her. The closest that we got to boss battle was an enemy rush and a close door that won’t open until you defeat every enemy. The Ability tree is simple but diverse to allow a player careful consideration on which path of powering up to chose when playing.
There is always the question that is asked; Are video games art? I personally feel that art is subjective. That being said, this game is a work of art. I loved the hand drawn look of the game. Everything looks very vivid and colorful. Ori’s animation is smooth in all of it’s actions. Whether it’s jumping, attacking, or moving from left to right, I feel that the game flows rather well. It’s also incredible that there is no loading for the game except at the beginning. I did encounter slowdown at some points of the game. Mostly whenever there was an encounter with Naru. The background of the game feels like a large map or canvas. I didn’t feel that the background was recycled at all and the areas felt original. Even the creators explain that certain assets will appear uniquely to each section of the world.
I read that the game takes inspiration for it’s story from many works like The Lion King, the animation of Hayao Miyazaki (the animator/director at Stuido Ghibli) and the gameplay and style of Rayman Origins/Legends. I also felt a bit of How to train your Dragon. I could be the only one about that, but it’s how I feel. The music is some of the best that I ever heard. This is an instance that the music set the mood of the game and complements the story rather well. I thought Gareth Coker did a great job. I’ve included a link to the soundtrack on Spotify below. Take a listen to it, it’s really wonderful.
The story is very simple. No voice over but the narrative said through a type of speaking gibberish and text reading:
However, the one thing that ruined the game for me was seeing Ori and the Will of the Wisps trailer before playing this game. When I started Ori and the Blind Forest, you get this heavily emotional opening of Naru finding Ori. You see Ori grow up Naru and the relationship that they developed. When the forest was dying, it’s was really hard to watch when Naru gave the last piece of food to Ori and see her die of starvation. It was sad and confusing. I saw her alive in The Will of the Wisps trailer, what gives? After playing through the game, Gumo, a spider like creature and the last of his kind follows Ori in the beginning of the game. He revives Naru with his clans treasure, that stored light from the Spirit Tree to revive Naru. It ruins such an emotionally gripping scene at the beginning, only to cheat death at the end. I guess it sets up the device for Naru to scarfice herself to restore the forest and save her last egg. A strong beginning that led to an ok ending. Most people might have hated that aspect playing the game before the trailer. That just got ruined for me in the trailer.
I’m going through my second play through of the game. Was there anything that I may have missed? Let me know in the comments or message me to let me know. Thank you for reading.