4 years of development with almost none of the promotion and hype that usually surrounds new games. A new team that calls itself Moon Studios and their first game that is a masterpiece in terms of story, gameplay, and graphics. Sounds hard to believe? Well, if you saw and played Ori and the Blind Forest you probably can confirm that something like that is actually possible to accomplish, and in today’s world where games get overhyped and ultimately become a huge disappointment (did somebody say Watch Dogs?) this game is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
In its core, Ori is a fantastic 2d platformer, which can be compared to recent Rayman titles. But this game has that sweet mechanic of leveling up and acquiring new abilities along with fairly large open world map that is comprised out of many areas that are seamlessly interconnected, something that is trademark of classic Metroidvania games. That alone is enough to make this title alluring to play but wait, there’s more. Fantastic graphics makes the game look like some painting that came to life right in front of your eyes. Gorgeous environments combined with the amazing design of enemies and other game characters make hard to believe that this game is made using the Unity engine! Well, I guess that Unity had come a long way since it was first choice for development of mobile games and something that would make you turn away from any game using it because of its limited technical possibilities and poor optimization. But since this game I will not be instinctively negatively biased anymore to games that are made using this technology (I’m looking at you Wasteland 2).
The story is basically a fairy tale in which your character (Ori) gets ripped off the Spirit Tree during a big storm. He gets adopted by a creature that is called Naru, and after an event that made forest to slowly decline and wither Naru dies of starvation and Ori is alone again. His task becomes restoring the forest to her former glory by recovering the light of the three main elements. It’s a heartbreaking tale of friendship, life and fight against the dark, and everyone that has some compassion in them will be touched by it.
Aside from the beautiful graphics that make Ori and the Blind Forest artistic wonder, gameplay is also something to adore. Controls are slick and precise allowing you to do exactly what you want but bear in mind that doesn’t mean that the game is easy. Each action must be carefully planned because even the slightest mistake will probably result in a quick death of the main character.
Trial and error mechanic is not implemented in a way that will ultimately frustrate you and make you to abandon the game, but in a way that rewards you for accurately perform actions that are needed to overcome the obstacles that get in your way. You collect experience and get skill points which are used for acquiring new abilities needed for solving puzzles, overcoming obstacles and unlocking new areas. Abilities are the usual stuff seen in a Metroidvania games (double jump, stronger attacks, etc.), and they are divided into three groups. Combat skills, passive skills and active skills used for overcoming obstacles. As you advance through the game enemies become tougher, obstacles harder, and your skill and reflexes are really going to be put to the test.