"Don't forget to save... Ori's Blind Forest"
Ori and the Blind Forest is a 2D platform-adventure, more commonly described as Metroidvania, that tells of forest spirit Ori's quest to restore balance to the 'blind' Forest of Nibel. Journeying from the forest's Sunken Glades to the volcanic Mount Horu, via the mighty Ginso Tree and the icy Forlorn Ruins, Ori must locate the lost Elements of Light whilst avoiding the attentions of Kuro - the massive owl responsible for the forest's descent into darkness.
It's clear from the outset that this is no ordinary looking game. Everything in Ori and the Blind Forest has a distinct hand-painted look which, along with all the glowing and trailing elements, lends everything an impressive otherworldly quality. Backgrounds and foregrounds in particular are beautifully melded to provide a remarkable sense of place - each new area feeling distinct from the last, but also a part of the wider forest as a whole. Coupled with the game's delightfully orchestrated soundtrack, players are faced with an audio-visual feast that's entirely family-friendly.
With that said, this is no walk in the park - not to begin with, at least. Before Ori's offensive capabilities are upgraded and new abilities are acquired, there are a number of pretty taxing platforming sections. These early difficulty spikes may also be heightened by the novel save system that Ori employs. Provided enough of the required resource is available, the player can place a save point wherever they choose - as long as they remember to do so. Before getting into the habit though, death can result in replays of lengthy portions. At most though this is a minor annoyance, one that gets easier to handle as the game progresses.
A few other small issues exist within the game too - there isn't a lot of replay value; there are no significant boss battles besides those few encounters with Kuro; there are several trial and error 'escape' levels that can get tiresome - but these niggles are only made more apparent by the inherent quality of the rest of the game. Ori and the Blind Forest is a dark storybook fantasy, tinged with Ghibli; the platforming and exploration are a joy to experience and it looks and sounds like nothing else available. For $20/€20/£15, Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful ten-hour adventure that can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
GameDynamo's Score for Ori and the Blind Forest (XB1)
Eoin has been gaming for twenty-five years, worries he might be getting a little too old for it all, but hopes that he isn't. In the midst of an effort to find a future doing something he loves, he has taken to writing about his one enduring passion - video games.
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