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Review: Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)

 

 
Overview
 

Game Length: 7.5 hours
 
Developer(s): Moon Studios
 
Publisher(s): Microsoft
 
Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
 
Release Date: 11 March 2015
 
Platform:
 
Gameplay
9.0


 
Visuals
10


 
Audio
9.5


 
Gratification
9.5


 
Value for Money
9.5


 
Total Score
9.5
9.5/10


User Rating
2 total ratings

 

Positives


Amazing Visuals l Great Soundtrack l Balanced Gameplay l Just Brilliant

Negatives


Respawning Enemies l Can be Frustrating l Save Points


Bottom Line

Ori and the Blind Forest will take you on a journey you wish would never end.




30
Posted March 12, 2015 by

 
Full Article
 
 

ori-and-the-blind-forest

When the first trailer for Ori and the Blind Forest was shown there was a unanimous feeling of awe. It looked amazing, special even, and a game that was not to be missed. This was emphasized by the sadness that was experienced when the game was delayed. That delay meant we only got it this month and left us wondering if the wait was worth it, well was it?

When I booted up Ori and the Blind Forest for the first time it took me about 30 minutes to actually pick up the control and play. The beauty that was emanating from my screen had me instantly attracted. There is something about the design and the music that almost puts you in a trance. I almost didn’t want to play the game, concerned that I had to leave the visuals I was staring at.

Eventually I managed though, picked up the control to take control of Naru, a fat creature that looks like she is always smiling. Naru discovers Ori, a cat-like creature, saves Ori and the two of them spend many days hanging out like family. Until… something happens and Ori decides to venture out of his comfort zone into the Blind Forest, Nibel.

Ori 1

It’s at this point that you take control of Ori, and where the games real magic comes to life. Ori runs on its hind legs for the most part. You start off with just basic skills of running and jumping until you shortly meet up with Sein, a light from the destroyed Forest that inspires you to save the Forest. Sein has the ability to attack enemies and will partner Ori along the entire journey.

Ori’s main task is to bring the forest back to life by finding certain stones in the forest and reviving the Spirit Tree to make this happen. It isn’t so easy though as there is a massive bird lurking that is intent on nothing but destruction. That and there are lots of enemies and puzzles to be solved in order to get what you need.

Ori and the Blind Forest takes you back to the 2D platformers of old. There are all the elements of a fine platformer that make you realise just how few games manage to create that same sense of brilliant level design and gameplay. Ori may start with just standard abilities, but the more you progress and level up the more in-depth the game becomes and the more it changes.

Ori 2

While discovering the world of Nibel, Ori upgrades his abilities by earning ability points, and another set of skills through finding Spirit Trees that can be revived. Eventually you will be able to do more damaging attacks with Sein. You will be able to climb walls, break through objects, glide and even do power jumps and double jumps. Through acquiring these skills the game will test you at every corner on how adept you are at using them.

Ori may appear to be your standard platformer but it executes every aspect so well that it’s honestly near perfection. The array of puzzles to get through the levels is amazing, the enemies are as diverse as your options for dealing with them. Precise timing is needed at some points, while at others you can breathe a bit and take in the beautiful scenery. The boss battles are well balanced and never too inconvenient.

Everything in Ori and the Blind Forest just fits so well together that you have to make sure you take it all in. There are just so many things that work in the game that putting them into words would take forever. The platforming is some of the best I have ever played and it is all in one seamless world that has you moving through so many different environmental elements that you literally feel Ori’s exhaustion by the time you reach the end.

Ori 3

There are of course collectibles too if you want to get them, and they are not pointless either as you can locate ability points, health upgrades and energy upgrades to improve your character. The great thing is that if you decide not to go for the collectibles you will still be able to continue at a good pace.

As solid as the gameplay is I have to just mention the beauty again. The visuals from start to end, no matter what area you are at in the game, are just breathtaking. It’s the same style as the recent Rayman games, but I think that it somehow tops it with powers unbeknown to us. The level of detail that goes into each section in the foreground and the background, plus the changing elements on-screen are just unbelievable to behold. I don’t think I have ever been so taken with what I have seen in a game. I am never sure where I sit on the whole “games are art” thing, but looking at Ori and the Blind Forest that stance is made easy. It’s pure art.

Ori 4

It’s also aided by a stellar soundtrack that accentuates the on-screen happenings. It’s wonderfully orchestrated into what is nothing short of whole emotion. It’s almost as though the developers knew that they could reach any gamer through more than just a brilliant game.

While Ori and the Blind Forest is mostly brilliant there are a couple of hiccups in the game. More than once I experienced some pretty awful frame rate drops, when there was a lot happening on the screen. It wasn’t frequent but did result in a death or two. The second thing is that the automatic saves are not very common and only happen after big events. You can manually save whenever you want though but remembering to do so at times is a pain and you can end up replaying a huge section if you do forget.

Ori 6

The game is based on the old-school platform model, which means you will die plenty of times. Particularly so during the boss battle/escape sections which are far more difficult than the rest of the game and requires lots of patience and good timing. There are also respawning enemies which can get a bit annoying when you are trying to figure out where to go. It’s not too serious and certainly doesn’t ruin the game, but worth noting.

Ori and the Blind Forest is quite easily one of the greatest platformers, if not games, I have ever played. Its visual beauty is one defining aspect but at no point does it outshine the rest of what the game does. It has emotional moments, happy moments, frustrating moments and mind blowing moments. It’s a combination of all that you would want in a game and not for one second through the 7.5 hour experience did I feel like I had enough.

Ori 7

I know we live in a world where AAA games rule the market, but if you are going to play one game this year, Ori and the Blind Forest should definitely be considered. If you dislike 2D platformers then you might find it frustrating, but still worth trying. If you are a fan of the genre then be aware that you are in for something incredibly special. A journey worth taking in what is one of the best balanced platformers of all time.

Gold-award

 

 





Jarred Milner

 
Together with Gerard {I am Jarred's clever side} we aim to take over the world. And if that doesn't work out we'll sit on the couch and play some video games.


  • Michelle

    The game looks awesome,kinda reminds me of the game Dust.
    The music in the trailer is so sad,especially the beginning.

  • TechniKyle

    Now I really want to play it. I know there’s the chance I’ll find it annoying with all the deaths, but I think everything else makes up for it. Pity I don’t have an Xbox…

  • L337J1MB0B

    As much as I love SA Gamer and what you guys do here, I can’t help but feel that your review formula is a little flawed. The reason I’m saying this is I don’t see how a game’s audio can make up 20% of the overall score.

    • dawid22

      We actually just discussed that a few weeks ago (among the team members) and there are plans to change things up. Thanks for the input.

    • Jarred

      You make a very good point, and it’s something I have brought up and we are going to hopefully change soon.
      Your point stands as Audio doesn’t make or break a game, it’s simply an aside. But I have covered all aspects in the actual review that were good apart from the sound. Thanks for your thoughts, will definitely address this.

    • Graeme Selvan

      great review, having played this game and being an audio head it sure helps the experience along. I think it can affect the score IMO. The audio in this game has to be one of the best musical scores I have ever heard in my life, the quality is also way ahead of most games.

      • Jarred

        Thanks man, appreciate you reading it. Enjoy the game.

    • Cautious Observer

      I tend to disagree. A good sound-space can really make or break a game.

      Destiny, for all it’s flaws, has a soundtrack that is really good. Just a shame that you can’t tweak any of the volume levels, which is a _major_ flaw. Compare this to The Last of Us Remastered, which has an impressive number of audio tweaks for a video game. This is could be important information, especially to people with beefy amps and sound systems.

      I honestly believe we’ve reached a point where audio is going to be the new graphics. (Until we hit VR video immersion anyway.) It’s 2015, graphics are “supposed” to be good by now, I’m more interested in the audio quality.

      I have a good sound setup. I spent time researching it, and money implementing it. And it’s still only “good”, not anywhere near “as good as one can get” and yet it makes a huge difference to my gaming enjoyment. Any person who has gone through the same will be able to tell you that each incremental jump in your audio equipment (pc or home theater) is an absolute revelation. It honestly is a case of not knowing what you’ve been missing.

      I, for one, wish that more reviews would spend some time to, at the very least, tell us about how much or little the title uses audio and surround sound. Is it good, is it bad. Is it subtle, or is it all just boom boom.
      Most reviews are a bit light weight in this department, but I think it probably has a lot to do with most reviewers only having access to basic sound equipment?

      Separate volume sliders for overall, dialogue and background really are the new FOV.

      == EDIT ==
      Also, audio is extremely important when trying to elicit emotion. A good soundtrack is worth more than all the polygons in the world. So for a game that, on the surface, seems to have a lot of emotion associated with it, the quality of audio is indeed important.

      • dawid22

        Thanks, that’s how I personally feel. I have a massive emotional bond to the sound of most games. Why would we play soundtracks and have the nostalgia bones in our body loving it? Unfortunately it seems we’re in the minority these days.

      • Jarred

        As I said above to Jarrod Lane, thanks for your thoughts on it. It’s great to see people discussing it from both sides so that we can decide what best to do with it.

    • Jarrod Lane

      I don’t know if I can agree on this point, I think Audio plays a large part in games.

      Besides having good music and sound FX, it’s how they are used that matters. There are soo many games that the music builds up with what is happening on screen and helps draw you into the experience.

      How much better is Forza for having their cars sound like their real life counterpart as opposed to lawn mowers. How much better do the weapons in Halo 2 Anniversary sound over the original. Remember the first time you stepped into space in Dead Space, hearing the sounds as they would be inside your helmet added to that atmosphere.

      Grow home would be a better game if they only added in game music instead of just silence and sound FX.
      I judge WW2 games soley on the sound of the M1 Carbine. 🙂

      Do I think audio is worth 20% of the review score? You could argue that it depends on the game, but then I thought what type of games lean more on their audio than others (besides rhythm games of course) and I thought maybe sport games, but no, hearing the crowds roar, hearing the crunch of a tackle or booting the ball sounding like it should, again helps draw you in.

      So I think it’s worth 20%, especially if you have a decent sound system/headphones to experience it a you should.

      • Cautious Observer

        Fully agree with this sentiment.

        I also wanted to comment on Dead Space. I didn’t know they went that route for the sections with no atmosphere, so the first time it happened I was absolutely gob smacked.

      • Jarred

        Thanks for your thoughts, we will take it into consideration. We definitely don’t think that sound isn’t important. It’s a tricky one and depends on the gamer, whereas something like graphics and gameplay are important to pretty much all gamers (graphics less so of course).
        I will do a post on this so we can discuss it properly, thanks for the info!

      • K1FF J1MB0B (sizzle edition)

        Look I’m not saying audio adds nothing.. it is important of course, but the formula they’ve used to rate games suggests that audio is as important as gameplay or graphics, and there’s just no way that this is possibly true. Games are a visual interactive medium, and sound is used to enhance the experience. You can play just about any game with your TV muted and still have an excellent time. How many games can you play purely with the audio?

        • Jarrod Lane

          Fair points indeed. Based on your examples I see where you coming from.
          Let’s see how/when/If this sorry bunch does adjust their rating system instead of just talking about it 😉

    • baasg3n3

      Imagine Final Fantasy with a shit sound track, wouldn’t that destroy the series? Why do you think Nobuo Uematsu is an absolute legend among jrpg fans? I would say it might even be worth more than 20% of the review score. Also a major reason why FF12 and 13 doesn’t have half the fan base of FF4-10. Nostalgia is also heavily influenced by music, that’s why the FF soundtracks sell so well

  • Jivesh Hanoomaun

    Is it not coming to Xbox 360?

    • dawid22

      It is, but there’s no set date yet.

  • Cautious Observer

    Nice review, one question though.

    You mentioned re-spawning enemies, power ups and “trying to figure out where to go”. Does this play like a Metroidvania game?

    • Jarred

      Thanks for reading.
      And yes, that term has been everywhere since the game was announced and since reviews went up, as such I didn’t feel I wanted to include the term in my review. Instead I decided to break it up.
      I also wasn’t sure how those who are not 2D platformer fans would take the term and didn’t want them to be out of the loop as such.

      • Cautious Observer

        S cool… this is the first review I’ve read for this game, tbh.

        I do think though that “Metroidvania” has gone from a term, almost to a micro genre definition, setting it apart from normal 2D platformers.

        But hey, no harm, no foul. It is your review after all, and you dropped enough hints that I could still reach my conclusion. For me, personally, it’s an extra point for the game, but I can see how it might put some people off.

        • Jarred

          I feel honoured, truly. Thanks for reading it!
          Yes, I agree with you on Metroidvania to being a genre of its own, but I have just seen it so often lately that I was worried it was losing it’s meaning for that even. I very definitely could have included the term somewhere, maybe even in brackets, so thanks for bringing it up because at least now it is in the comments 😉
          But yeah, if that is an extra point for the game and you like that style then you definitely need to play this.

  • Jarrod Lane

    I believe the reason for this games beauty is the fact that it is all hand drawn/painted?

    • Jarred

      Yes, hand drawn to perfection.

  • AchtungBaby_

    Respawning enemies, hate that in Dust too. I want to try this on my laptop but it would have to be on all the low settings and what’s the point in that. Maybe it comes to PS in a year or two.

    • Jarred

      Look the visuals are amazing and a big sell for the game, but even at low settings the gameplay is damn good and worth it regardless.
      Very unlikely to hit PS because it’s published by Microsoft 😉

      • AchtungBaby_

        Hmm okay I will try it out.

  • Raidz

    It’s more beautiful than Trine! Must have it!

  • CaptainNemo42

    WHY WHY? Why did this game have to be published by a company whose hardware I do not own? WHY!!?

  • On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I eventually got round to starting the download, and even then, I only managed to find time to start playing Ori sometime on Sunday evening.

    Okay, before I gush over how brilliant a game it is, I should first say that to anyone who has yet to play it, please do not watch any “Let’s Plays” or “First 10 minutes”. The opening to the game, its prequel if you will, really sets the tone and almost gives you a sense of purpose. It has to be experienced ‘first hand’.

    As for its gameplay…absolutely stellar. And, it’s not just the gameplay that shines, it’s the little things, too. For instance, if you push Ori up against a wall, she (I’m assuming gender, k?) positions herself similarly to how a cat would when on its hind legs. Or, when taking damage, Ori emits a sound that makes you really feel for her, and her fragility.

    Also, the game definitely rewards exploration and tackling areas which seem out of your current skill level.

    An example of this, is while on my way to [Ha! Spoiler removed!] I came across an area which was mostly covered in eina water, one shot kill spikes and enemies. But, if you manage to navigate your way past it all…well, I suppose you’ll [assuming someone is reading this] just have to find out.

    As for the game’s save points; it’s a bit of a schlep that they aren’t auto saves, because I don’t always remember to save before tackling a new area and have often found myself some ways off from where I died, but it’s also okay. In games, I don’t expect everything to be handed to me with a silver spoon, and if I forget to save, and die, then it’s my own fault.

    Oh, and respawning enemies; man, that’s just cannon fodder and more XP to farm 😀
    Jarred, a brilliant review from you good sir!