Ori and the Blind Forest is a powerful, moving experience that will stick with you long after putting the controller down. In between play sessions, I couldn’t wait to get back to exploring and restoring the titular blind forest of Nibel.
The first thing that struck me as I booted up the game was the sheer beauty of the world. From the title screen on, the lush environments sucked me in and had me invested. The soundtrack is equally as stunning and instrumental (pun intended) in creating the overall aesthetic and feel of the game.
There are plenty of feels as well. I started playing Ori after kind of a long day at work, and I was already getting a bit tired. Let me just say that I was not prepared for the emotional gut-punch at the beginning of the game. We’re talking beginning-of-Pixar’s-Up levels of feels here. Just a fair warning to those who want to play this game: prepare for all the feels!
As a Metroidvania, gameplay comparisons abound. Exploring and unlocking new areas and abilities is a bit more linear than traditional or old-school Metroid games, but there are plenty of little nooks and crannies that branch off the main path that you’ll need to come back and explore later. Additionally, the Definitive Edition includes two new areas and abilities to unlock. Be aware that these areas are completely optional. If you’re a completionist, don’t forget to return to them. If you’re not, don’t worry about them.
My one minor complaint about Ori and the Blind Forest is that there are a couple of platforming segments that are slightly more challenging than I’d like. It seemed to me that the controls weren’t as tight as they needed to be for them This contrasts with another game I’ve been playing, Celeste (perhaps another review candidate?). In Celeste, I always felt like I knew exactly why I died, and it was something I could fix and improve upon the next attempt. Coupled with generous checkpoints, Celeste is more forgiving of death. Ori, on the other hand, explicitly denies you from saving during these difficult platforming segments (for very valid, but still inconvenient, story reasons) and much of the time, when I died, it felt like it wasn’t my fault.
This one issue is not enough to dissuade me from recommending Ori and the Blind Forest to pretty much any of my gamer friends. Beautiful art direction, magical soundtrack, and solid gameplay and puzzles lead to an excellent overall package. Pick this one up and play it!