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Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition
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Ori and the Blind Forest was developed by Moon Studios, an indie game studios that was actually picked up by Microsoft Studios as a First Party Developer. This would basically mean that Microsoft would be publishing their game in 2015, which is a big deal, I mean it’s Microsoft, come on.

So this game took 4 years to make, and launched very, very successfully in 2015. Fun fact, the team at Moon Studios met in person for the first time when the trailer for their first game was showcased at the 2014 E3. Apparently, Moon Studios works as a virtual studio, meaning that they don’t rent an office, and that they hire people from all over the place, which is pretty cool honestly!

This might not seem relevant to the review, but I just wanted to share a bit of their history as I find it quite interesting. But let’s talk about the game, yeah?

So, Ori and the Blind Forest, a game that came out in 2015, developed by Moon Studios, is essentially a metroidvania/adventure game, with a gorgeous artstyle and soundtrack, tight gameplay and a truly heart-warming story that will most definitely tug at your heartstrings a few times.

In this game, you play as Ori, a child of the Spirit Tree, a child of light, who, on an unfortunate stormy night, was swept away from the Tree as a baby. Fortunately for him, he was found and raised by a creature called Naru, who is basically his adoptive mother.

However Ori was not in his true place, and so the Spirit Tree held a ceremony in an attempt to call Ori back home. This angered the owl Kuro, and in her murderous rage, she ripped out the light from the Spirit Tree and plunged the entire forest of Nibel into darkness.

And so it’s up to Ori to retrieve the light and journey across Nibel to rekindle the three elements and save the Forest.

That is essentially the plot of the game. Now, interestingly enough, Ori’s story is actually not that complex. What I mean by that is that it’s not a really deep plot that branches out into various subplots. It’s actually a very simplistic story: you need to save the forest and escape the big scary owl, and you make a few friends along the way. And that’s it, really.

But it works really, really well. This game keeps its storytelling relatively simple, and yet it manages to make you love all the characters you meet, and you will definitely choke up a bit towards the end. I mean, come on, how can you NOT like this little bundle of cuteness?

And I think this proves that you really don’t need an overly complicated plot with a thousand subplots, to make things interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I adore stories where there’s loads of interesting twists and characters, but this game shows that it isn’t necessary. Of course, it does depend on what kind of game you’re making. I’d say that if you’re trying to make a deep RPG, then yeah, a deep and complex narrative will most likely fit that format better (if done well, of course).

But it’s fascinating how games like Ori and Hollow Knight manage to make you care at least a bit about their character. I’m using Hollow Knight as an example here because, while there is a story in that game, it’s not a very obvious one, and unless you’re a genius, or you’ve read through the wiki, you won’t really know what’s going on. And the character of the Knight is not one you’d relate to normally, I mean he’s devoid of emotion and humanity… or is he?

No but really, I don’t mean to say that Hollow Knight does not have a story, it does. But if you don’t read up about it, you won’t understand it, but even without that, there’s something likeable about the Knight, maybe it’s because he’s also cute. But he’s got a bit of sad side to him, as well, and over time you do grow fond of this little creature.

Anyway, all that to say that while Ori’s story is not the most complex, it still delivers really well and tells just a really lovely story.

Now when it comes to its gameplay, Ori and the Blind Forest is just amazing. Controls in this game are just so tight and so responsive, the kind of thing I love to see in a proper metroidvania. Everything just feels good, and I really don’t have anything bad to say about it. In terms of difficulty, well, this game can be really brutal, and I mean that. Don’t let the cuteness fool you, Hard difficulty can be VERY hard, I speak from experience here. I did the let’s play on hard mode, and god damn, I died so many times. I think I finished my playthrough with around 200 deaths, maybe more. I’m sure some players are probably better than me, but this is just a heads up. It’s a fun and challenging experience, though I did rage a lot, but if you just wanna an easy going playthrough, go with easy or normal difficulty I’d say.

I’ve called this game a metroidvania a few times already, and that’s because it plays like a very classic metroidvania. You’ve got a big map to explore with different areas, a bunch of collectibles and secrets to find, abilities that you find organically throughout the story that’ll eventually help you navigate the world better and discover more hidden areas, and of course, platforming. And all of this is done really well, I think! The pace of the gameplay can feel a bit slow at first, but I think that’s just normal for a game like this. However once you pick up your first abilities and start buying a few skills, this is where the fun begins, and things start to feel more fluid, and from there, it just gets better and better.

If you’ve played Hollow Knight, you’ll remember that it also started out pretty slowly. You don’t have anything except your sword, and then you get your dash, and things to get better, and so on so forth. Same thing here. I mentioned a skill tree too, and there’s a wide variety of skills to buy here, and all of them are pretty neat!

To unlock skills, you’ve gotta collect spirit light, which is gained by killing enemies or finding containers, stuff like that, pretty straightforward.

And of course, you can upgrade your health and energy bars! Energy is something you’ll be using to make save points, and for certain abilities too, so you’ll definitely need that.

That’s about it for gameplay, it’s just really enjoyable and fun, there’s loads of different areas to explore, loads of cool skills to buy and abilities to unlock that’ll really make the game feel better as you go on. I didn’t talk about enemies too much but there’s also a fair amount of those too, not as much variety though, but you’ll see the same enemies but different variants of them. So you might have fire enemies, or green vomit poison ones, stuff like that.

Another thing that still impresses me is the artstyle and soundtrack of Ori, it’s so damn good. I could spend ages just staring in awe at the beautiful environments, there’s so many different colours in the places you visit, and it just looks really gorgeous. I won’t show all of them to not spoil the surprises, but this game is just beautiful all the way.

And not just the art, but the soundtrack is beautiful too. Gareth Coker was the composer for both Ori 1 and 2, and while I haven’t heard the soundtrack for Will of the Wisps, I can definitely say that the first game’s soundtrack is one of the prettiest I’ve heard in a game. Like a lot of the game, it’s just lovely, and kinda sad, it’s so good, it really is. Gareth Coker has also done the music for Darksiders Genesis, and quite a few Minecraft albums too actually, you can check it all out on his website.

However the credit shouldn’t all go to Gareth. There are quite a few pieces of music in this game featuring a vocalist, Aeralie Brighton, and her voice adds so much to those tracks, it’s quite stunning, so hats off to her as well.

One thing I know I rarely talk about in my reviews is the performance of the game, how well it runs, etc. Usually I won’t really talk about it if the game runs really well and if I don’t run into any issues. Of course if there are a number of recurring bugs or whatever, I’ll talk about it, which I think I did for Jedi Fallen Order.

But maybe I should include it regardless, I dunno. This game ran perfectly well though, I had a crash once, and that’s it, but apart from that, no bugs at all. One thing I feel like I should mention is that the game, upon launching it, doesn’t let you select 1440p resolution. I ran into this issue myself, but there’s loads of solution to this on the internet or on steam forums, so it’s not too big of a deal.

Apart from that, there’s nothing wrong with the performance of this game, it was really smooth all the time.

Everything is just great, the gameplay is fun, the artstyle and soundtrack are gorgeous, and the story, while it isn’t the most complex narrative you’ll see, is one that will surely tug at you heartstrings.

Thanks for reading lads, you can watch this review on my channel @Belfalor on Youtube.

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