An impactful journey begins with a heart-wrenching narrative in which the cycle of life and death are prevailing themes. Players discover more about how to play as this cycle becomes better understood. Each part of the environment, which may at first seem unapproachable, ends up serving its own purpose in this nearly perfect ecosystem of gameplay design. From a team of developers called Moon Studios collaborating across the world (with members in Israel, United States, Australia, and more) and thanks to the blessing of high speed internet telecommuting, Ori and the Blind Forest lands on the Xbox ONE and Windows PC (via Steam) gracefully showing off Microsoft’s ability to spot a diamond in the rough and propel beautiful visions to the spotlight. Much as the team coming together to make this game, the harmony of each element it consists of reveals itself and the full experience is formed with clarity.
At its core Ori and the Blind Forest is a platforming adventure game with evolving action elements. Players must collect keystones to pass through spirit gates guarding new areas as a deep story unfolds. All the while light energy cells are collected to expand abilities with. Enemies and their attacks must be rapidly dodged but also defeated with energy flame attacks and later other abilities as well.
This starts out simple allowing players to become familiar with an engrossing plot which is told swiftly but becomes more of a challenge as underlying sources of conflict make themselves known and threaten to destroy everything in sight. A long time ago the light energy gave birth to all life as we know it. Absorbing that energy back into Ori, the character players take control of, is the key to re-awakening Ori’s true potential. In this game that light is obtained many ways, one of which is through spirit trees.
Saving in the game is done in an instant by holding down the B button but must be earned by filling up the Soul Link meter. This also serves as an immediate checkpoint should players die. The ability tree is used to obtain upgraded attacks, energy mastery, and a portion of the game’s unique skills. Some of these include breathing underwater, sensing hidden areas as well as locations of precious items, hitting 4 targets at once with spirit flame attacks, a splash damage stomp attack, a “bashing” attack which pushes through enemies, and that’s not even all of them. In addition to these hard earned skills, players will also gain moves from story progression altering what is possible in the game world.
Visually the game is stunning and everything is drawn at a quick 60 frames per second with detailed, fluid animation demanding skill and a good eye to master. Somehow the game manages to remain frustration free for the majority of its length though. The art direction also does a great job of matching the calming soundtrack. An emotional bond between character and player far beyond what most modern platformer games can provide has been achieved with Ori and the Blind Forest. While this is largely due to its impeccable audio / visual presentation the truth is that its just a very complete overall package. Emergent gameplay with a well thought out level design go a long way to keep players entertained beyond the cinematic feel and there is enough layers of complexity added on top of its smooth flow.
The only reason the game hasn’t received a perfect score is due to the fact that there are some glitches existing on the Windows PC version of the game. While most games will contain some amount of problems, they are not always fixed by patches. However, that being said, Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best indie – style games released on consoles in a long time. It manages to tell a touching tale without the narrative overstaying its welcome, deliver plenty of easy to pick up and play gameplay, and generate intriguing concepts that players actually want to learn about and master. When a game manages to be fast paced, action packed, yet feel like a vacation from the norm, something really special has happened. Ori and the Blind Forest gets a 9.5 out of 10 making it one of RGN’s Platinum Games of 2015.
Overall Score: 9.5 / 10
RGN Rating: Platinum Game
Developer: Moon Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Available On: XO | Windows PC
Played On: Microsoft Xbox ONE
Coming Soon to Xbox 360
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20150313 and was last modified on 20150313 .