There is no debating Ori and the Blind Forest is a bit of a stunner. Visually outstanding, Ori tells the tale of one small spirit as he goes off on a journey of discovery, intrigue and rescue. Discovery, intrigue, rescue and beautiful visuals should all see Moon Studio’s debut Xbox One title be a nailed on success then yeah?
Yeah…should be! But whilst it gets very very close, it’s not quite perfect.
The forest of Nibel is dying and the only way to stop it from total destruction is for Ori, a small orphaned guardian spirit, to find the three supporting pillars of the forest Spirit Tree; that of water, that of wind and that of warmth. Only then will the forest be saved.
But Ori’s life isn’t as straightforward as it seems, as the complex hidden forest of Nibel is home to all manner of strange animal, intent on stopping Ori in his path. Some will jump at him, others will spew fire his way but they will all make his quest that little bit more difficult to complete.
Thankfully, the further Ori manages to progress through the forest, the more he’ll be able to acquire skills that will help rid himself of those in his way as fast as possible. Initially he’ll be granted the power of the spirit flame so he can fight back, but it won’t take long before you’ll find him stomping, bashing and wall running his way to survival. But these skills alone won’t be enough to save the forest and it’s only with careful navigation through the murky depths of the deepest darkest areas will Ori stumble across Energy cells, Life cells, and Ability cells.
These allow for Ori to take a bigger whack from enemies and to work his way down any of three differing ability trees in order to maximise the scarce resources that are available. They also give you the ability to manually save Ori’s progress and with very little auto saving included in the game, careful consideration needs to be had when deciding on the best spot to save your game.
Ori and the Blind Forest is quite possibly one of the most beautiful games you will ever play. With the addition of a superb soundtrack helping you along the way, then you’d have thought that all was looking well in the forest of Nibel. And for the most part, you’d be right as Ori plays just as well as it looks. But there are a few downsides and Moon Studios seem to have forgotten at times what really makes a good game.
It’s not all about the graphics or the audio; it’s about the gameplay being fun.
Unfortunately there are just a few too many occasions when Ori and the Blind Forest stops being fun and starts to turn into a marathon of frustration, causing far too much shouting and controller slamming. Much of this is down to the manual save system forcing you to restart after a death (yes, Ori will die a lot), and if this save is initiated whilst Oris health is low then the next few minutes – and occasionally tens of minutes – will turn out to be supremely annoying as you struggle to battle past the forests wildlife. And if you forget to save, then well, tough luck as you’ll be finding yourself repeating tons of exploration all over again.
Whilst Ori starts off easy enough, and for the most part is fairly simple to progress through, there are a couple of points in the game that are just too tricky to navigate through (Yes, I’m looking at you Mr Ginso Tree). Admittedly, once past these points, the overall gameplay is more than decent enough to want you to keep on battling through, but there’s that little nagging doubt at the back of your mind everytime you die as to whether the next section is another of those frustration bearers. Whether you persist or not crosses the mind more than once!
A game should be taxing, but it should also be fun; at times and unfortunately Ori loses sight of that. It’s still a very very good game, filled with clever platforming and great exploration potential and is definitely one that you will want to experience, if only for its gorgeous nature and hauntingly glorious sounds.
But from the first minute of the Blind Forest, hopes are pushed high into the stratosphere and so it’s disappointing that Ori doesn’t quite reach the heights he should.
You’d be kicking yourself if you refuse to play Ori and the Blind Forest based on its difficult moments, but beware, it’s not the perfect title that we were all hoping it would be.
At times it’s just too damn unforgiving!