Friday, 13 March 2015

Ori and The Blind Forest (Xbox One) - Review

Ori and The Blind Forest is out now priced at £15.99.

This game starts out with seriously the most captivating, breathtaking beautiful opening sequence ever. And there is NO dialogue. None whatsoever. I cannot honestly remember the last time I was so drawn into a game right off the bat like this. It is simply gorgeous.

The music is sublime, a real joy to listen to. So much so that I have just left the game on in the background whilst I make dinner. It's gorgeous and so so fitting to the game. Its emotive music at its very best and is without doubt better than having a narrative voice for this game.

Upon saying that though, I realise I am mistaken. There is a narrative voice. But it is one that makes no sense without reading the subtitles, that are wonderfully blended into the picture on screen. The story is told by a man with a very deep and lovely voice, who to my untrained ears speaks in complete gobbledegook. But, like everything else in this masterpiece of a game it is divine to listen too. This is a game woven together with such attention to detail it is hard to not fall completely in love with it.

One of the most captivating opening sequences ever
I think you'd have to have a heart of stone to not fall for Ori and Naru. I confess to feeling utterly heartbroken by the end of the opening sequence. Whilst so many games seem to be shunning the idea of creating a lasting relationship between player and character, this game gives you that by the bucketload. It has ALL THE FEELS.

I'm not going to ruin the story for you so lets move onto the gameplay. The beginning of the story sees you playing for a little while as Naru, the big fluffy thing cuddling Ori in the picture below. He moves just how he looks he would. He makes the controls feel a little slow and pretty heavy. This is something you may not notice until you take control of Ori, the little white rodent thingy. My kids took to calling him a rabbit fairy, so I'll go with that. Once you take control of Ori the controls become fast, responsive, bouncy and a little skittish. Just like the animal that you are controlling. Just another little thing that leads to me believing this to be one of the more polished games I've played this year.

The sweetest characters ever
The game is a platformer, albeit a beautifully packaged one, but we all know there's nothing really new to bring to a platformer. Expect to be executing a lot of jumps where you have to get the timing just right, the run up distance just right, or do as I do, which is closing your eyes and praying to the gaming Gods that you'll land Ori on the other side rather than in the pit of spikes awaiting you below. Ori and The Blind Forest immediately reminded of Limbo, and at first I wondered whether this was purely down to the shadowy creatures you can sometimes see at the forefront of the picture. But it isn't just that. This game is a lot about trial-and-error playing, just as Limbo was. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just something to bear in mind if you're not the type of gamer that can deal with multiple deaths. Some parts of this game are really incredibly difficult so you will die.
Gorgeous level design

The game does have a skill tree, which enhances all of Ori's skills once you have earned enough experience. Whilst this does attempt to bring something more to what is essentially a simple platformer I do feel like the game didn't necessarily need it, although it does feel good to see your progression in a succinct way. The Soul Link enables you to save your game at any point as long as you have enough energy to fill one of the little blue balls at the bottom of the screen. This is a great idea, but sometimes I was left having to redo what felt like large parts of the game because I hadn't had enough energy to complete a new Soul Link. Still though this isn't a negative, it just makes you more accountable for your (or Ori's) fate.

I am really struggling to think of anyone who wouldn't like this game. True you may not love it, but I think it'd be really difficult to profess that you dislike Ori and The Blind Forest. It is an amazing game, absolutely gorgeous  and a great Metroidvania style platformer. At £15.99 I would have said it might be bit pricey, but with the slew of games coming out at around the same price point and not offering as much I'd say it is definitely one of the fairer priced games of recent memory.

10/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

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