Ori and the Blind Forest

On the surface, Ori and the Blind Forest appears to a beautiful game that spews gorgeous, colorful environments intertwined with a grand journey about a child who lost his adopted mother. As I progressed further, I began to see that this adventure was so much more. Ori starts off with one of the most heartbreaking prologues I have witnessed in years. A catastrophic event occurs to the forest leaving Ori stranded, alone, and lost. To restore the forest to its former glory, he must seek out three elements scattered around the forest.

Ori is a Metroidvania adventure that lets you explore its exquisite world any matter you decide. When the game starts, Ori is a weak child with a severe lack of skills. Eventually, with the help of a floating orb named Sein, Ori slowly but surely grows in power and aqcuires new skills. Double jump, wall climb, slam, and an extremely unique and useful bash move give Ori the necessary abilities needed to save the forest. Watching Ori grow from a helpless child to a complete wrecking ball of havoc was entertaining to see.

Unlocking these skills and getting Ori to a state where I felt confident in his prowess is easier said than done. The forest, while beautiful, is an incredibly dangerous place. Death lurks around every nook and cranny. Ori gameplay consist of inventive platforming, complex puzzles, and fluid combat. I found out pretty quickly that the key to success is to move slow and learn from your mistakes. Trial and error plays a huge part in the game. I can't count how many times I died trying to figure out the solute to a difficult puzzle.

Patience is a helpful trait in the forest, though sometimes I found that hard because of the game's pace. Everything is always moving and you are forced to stay on your toes and pay close attention to your surroundings. Ori's friends are too few and far between and the forest as a whole threatens Ori's life. Adding to this already difficulty platformer are how checkpoints are utilized. Unlike most games, you aren't awarded checkpoints automatically. Instead you must create them on your own using soul links. These soul links use energy, a valuable resource in Ori. Energy is also used to perform some of the strongest skills in the game like the Charge Flame.

Sometimes after getting past a difficult area I would forget to save and the forest would do what it does best – kill me. Remembering to manually save is crucial, which spared me from replaying areas I was lucky enough to pass the first time. Eventually, I found more energy and life cells which made survival a tad bit easier. Killing enemies and finding orbs will grant you points that can be used for a variety of different things. Upgrading Ori's damage, uncovering items on the map, or unlocking a triple jump are only a few of a total of 28 upgrades you can unlock.

My favorite portions of Ori were the three dungeon-like areas you must complete in order to save the forest. Each feature different elements like water, wind, and fire. These dungeons test your will and agility with Ori's collection of skills. One dungeon requires Ori to use an orb to walk on walls and avoid taking damage, but the controls are inverted. The most adrenaline-pumping portions of the game for me also came at the end of these insane dungeons. Checkpoints are deactivated and you must quickly use every skill at your disposal while being chased by lava or vicious streams of water.

The forest is huge and I was initially surprised to find out there wasn't a fast travel system. I realized why after exploring its depths. Roaming the forest and laying eyes on the alluring world around me was so mesmerizing that I didn't mind the walk; in fact, I welcomed it. There are tons of secrets hiding in the forest, too. Some of these hidden treasures can't be reached the first time you see them and require specific skills to obtain them. Going back to the old areas I was familiar with to find more treasures was great. The immersive orchestral score only added more to game. Each area features a different soundtrack that plays beautifully to the setting.

I finished my first playthrough just above 10 hours. I had hoped to continue to explore after the heart-softening ending until I was met with my first true disappointment in the game. Unfortunately, your save file is locked after completing the game. If you plan on collecting everything, be sure to do so before the end.

Ori and the Blind Forest is an aesthetically breathtaking adventure. Immaculately detailed environments coupled with engaging gameplay, all driven home by an emotionally driven plot makes this journey one for the ages.

Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09