Third-Week Throwback: Ori and the Blind Forest

Welcome to Third-Week Throwback! Each month, I am going to take a game (or maybe two) that has let’s say, reached its shelf life. These will be games that are no longer the “next big thing” or sometimes that deserve a second chance or went somewhat unknown. This week, we will be talking about Ori and the Blind Forest. With the upcoming sequel, The Will of the Wisps, many may not know why they should be excited! A great way to spread the word is a look back and play-through of Ori and the Blind Forest. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

The first thing that grabs your attention in Ori are the graphics. The game is beautifully put together, balancing light and dark elements, playing along with the theme. I like how the the graphics make the game feel deep, even though it is a 2D platformer. There are always things in the background moving around giving the  player a sense that the world is much bigger than what is offered in actual gameplay.

The story unfolds as you move around in the world. It is very emotional, moving me to tears a few times. Even though it is about creatures in a magical world, I found myself relating to them. The sadness of losing a loved one, the need to search for answers and light, finding some surprising friends along the way. All of these things drew me further into the game and left me wanting more. Playing makes me excited for Ori and the Will of the Wisps that is expected later this year.

Even early in the game it is obvious that it will be technically difficult. My 5 year old, though he is pretty decent at games, struggled to get through the opener. While this is great for experienced gamers, keeping them interested, it may be a bit awkward for gamers new to platformers. For both types though, working through those difficulties is well worth it, as the end of the game is quite rewarding. That being said, the developers have included a unique tool for platform style games to help out, no matter their style or experience level.

The skill system in Ori really stood out to me. I have seen some platformers, like Guacamellee, in which you can level up your skills. I have also seen branch systems in games like Fable and Skyrim. But I haven’t personally seen that concept applied to a platformer. It may be that I haven’t played enough platform games (side note: while researching this game, I found out it’s an entire subset type of platformer, called Metroidvania). As you gather points by acquiring items and killing baddies, you upgrade your character skills allowing you do different things. This is great because it is somewhat customizable to an individual play style.

The three different branches of the tree are Utility, Efficiency, and Combat. The utility branch includes abilities that help to both explore and defend yourself, such as Water Breath and Regroup. The former allows Ori to breathe in clean water, while the latter allows Ori to gain back life points when creating a soul link. The Efficiency branch allows Ori to see more items on the map, or let’s items provide a bigger boost. Finally, the Combat branch allows Ori to go on the offensive, with moves like Split Flame and Ultra Stomp. In the Definitive Edition version of Ori, three additional skills have been added, and one original skill has been removed. For the complete skills tree and additional information on the skills and how they work, this list is a helpful resource.

It is possible to fill the entire tree up when playing. That being said, the entire game is playable without any extra abilities. In fact, there is an achievement (on Xbox, at least) for completing the game without use of any additional abilities. Personally, I upgraded each branch equally (thanks, OCD), but it worked for me in the overall play.

The soundtrack was huge for me. It likely was not as emotionally involving as say, the Halo soundtrack, but it definitely pulled at the heartstrings more than once. This, combined with the overall story and gorgeous graphics, make for an immersive play-through. I can’t wait to go back and experience that magical world again.

With the explosion of indie platform games that have come out over the last 10 years, Ori definitely stands up to the task of being both entertaining and addictive. It took me a few days to get through it, certainly longer than the average game time reports I can find online, but that could definitely be my playing skills, or the fact that I love the world, and want to explore its every nook and cranny.

Overall, this game is definitely worth the time to play. It is all around well thought out and beautifully put together. All of the elements just work together, making it deeply satisfying. If you haven’t tried it, I absolutely suggest you do. If you have, let me know your thoughts!

If you have a game you’d like to see reviewed here in Third Week Throwback, let me know! I’m always looking for suggestions. Here we can offer games a second chance at a good review, or bring up some older games from the back burner. We can even shine a light on some that new gamers probably missed. I’m open to suggestions for just about anything, from Xbox to mobile, even board games.

Nap time=game time