Ori and The Blind Forest is, on a fundamental level, structured as so many other platformers are; It takes it’s inspiration from popular platformers like Metroid and Castlevania, and it blends together those mechanics while fusing in some of it’s own new DNA. As the nimble,Ori, you leap and float about with fantastic grace, and as Ori’s abilities improve, so does the overall enjoyment of navigating the gorgeous world. When you learn how to climb walls, Ori responds wonderfully to subtle movements of the analog stick, allowing you to finesse him into exactly the right place.
One by one, you learn new skills, and new challenges arrive with them. Ori can fire energy orbs at nearby foes when he isn’t avoiding them completely, and those creatures can be difficult to destroy. Each enemy set proved to be more difficult to overcome, with you having to try new tactics in order to be successful later in the game. For instance, you ultimately learn how to deflect projectiles, aiming them back at your foes while propelling yourself in the opposite direction. Turning an oncoming ball of fire back towards its owner is fun, but if you don’t pay attention, you could thrust Ori into a fatal wall of spikes.
Propelling yourself through the sky in this manner becomes one of Ori and the Blind Forest’s most vital maneuvers. When you first learn it, you typically use the glowing lanterns that dangle from overhangs. Soon, however, you must fire Ori through treacherous areas covered with fiery spheres and dangerous obstacles. Timing ended up being the most vital part of my success, but with some time, you’ll be nailing down Ori’s moves with ease.
Everything about Ori’s presentation is pure genius. The gorgeous hand-drawn art, exquisite animation, and powerful music make you feel like you’re taking part in an animated movie that was animated by Level-5. The narrative is solid as well, and it reminded me of the Legend of Zelda in some ways. As the adorable bunny-squirrel-thing Ori, you’re tasked by a Na’vi-like spirit companion named Sein to unite the elements of Water, Wind, and Warmth, which will restore life to an ancient forest. It’s a pretty straightforward motivation for a 2D Metroidvania-style platformer, but the narrative does dive in to heavy themes like sacrifice and vengeance.
Equally charming and challenging, Ori and the Blind Forest makes some harsh demands but pays off with its stellar presentation and overly satisfying gameplay. If you have an Xbox One, you shouldn’t miss out on Ori.