Ori and the Blind Forest is not necessarily a new game, but the Xbox One Definitive Edition of the game was just released this past June. The game has won multiple awards since its initial release in 2014, and is such a good game that you can buy special editions of Xbox consoles with a bonus copy of this game.
Platform: PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360
Single or Multiplayer: Single
Background: Ori and the Blind Forest was created by Moon Studios, an indie game developer. If you haven’t noticed a theme with Video Games Weekly, I tend to write about well done indie games that are available on mainstream consoles, because sometimes they can get overlooked.
Ori and the Blind Forest is marketed as a “Metroidvania” in an atmospheric world. “Metroidvania” is a subgenre in the gaming community which refers back to the old Metroid and Castlevania video games. These games take place in a large universe that has a series of sections or portals that can be unlocked later in the game. I don’t think the subgenre is limited to platform jumpers per se, but they are usually 2D scrolling games.
Storyline: HAVE TISSUES ON STANDBY WHEN YOU START THE GAME. The beginning to Ori and the Blind Forest is just like the Pixar movie Up where the storyline rips your heart out and crushes it to pieces in the opening montage of the game. You have been warned.
Players control Ori, a glowing spirit entity who is the “light and eyes” of the Forest’s Spirit Tree. Ori was lost to the Forest Spirit Tree when he fell during a storm, and he was adopted by a creature named Naru. The world, however, turns to chaos and death when the Forest Spirit Tree is attacked. It is now Ori’s quest to restore the light back to the Forest Spirit Tree. Ori has to venture to three different areas of the forest: Waters, Wind, and Warmth, which can be unlocked at different stages in the game. I know it doesn’t sound like the game is very large since you only have to unlock three areas, but each area is huge! To get a sense as to how large the game is, here’s a sample map:
Controls: I played Ori and the Blind Forest on Xbox One. The controls are standard for a platform jumper. Ori can climb walls, jump, attack, etc. The more enemies you kill, the more abilities you can unlock to do even cooler moves like propel yourself into the air using fireballs.
Gameplay: Ori is given a set number of specialized moves and “soul links”, and one of those special moves is saving the game. This is complicated because players are always struggling to make a decision between: “Should I save my soul links up so I can beat future enemies?” or “Should I save the game now but have even less special moves?”. There have been many times where I wanted to cry because I progressed relatively far into the game without saving, tragically perished, then had to do it all over again.
I also want to point out that the game’s art design is astonishingly gorgeous. According to Moon Studios’ website, the creators wanted every frame to look like a painting even though it is a 2D game. It’s hard to convey just how beautiful the art design is when looking at static pictures online, because the art pops out even more when you are moving Ori around on the platform. Also, the “Wind” area of the game is a nod to Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
Finally, what I love about Ori and the Blind Forest is how it is one of the few platform jumpers that gives characters depth. Think about it, do we know anything about Super Mario other than he has to save Princess Peach? In comparison, Ori and the Blind Forest is a coming-of-age-story where Ori has to figure out his role in the universe and how to save Naru.
Audience: Anyone can enjoy Ori and the Blind Forest. It’s a difficult, fun platform jumper with a heavy and peaceful tone. The only sad part is the game is created by Microsoft, so those who own a PS4 or Wii system will have to either play it on the computer or buy an Xbox.
Verdict: Highly recommend this purchase for library circulation collections.
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By: Alanna Graves
Pricing $20 on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Ori-Blind-Forest-Definitive-Xbox-One/dp/B01EJNUMQ0/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1472326506&sr=1-1&keywords=ori+and+the+blind+forest