The pleasantly surprising platforming title that is Ori and the Blind Forest has officially won my heart as one of the most user friendly titles available at this year’s PAX East.
Developed by Moon Studios, the game puts players in control of Ori, a forest spirit who has noticed something changing about the forest around him. Ori’s unique character design and fluid movement are what makes him so likable as a character. He moves as you’d imagine an actual spirit would, and isn’t capable of fighting off enemies until finding the proper energy to upgrade his skills in the ability tree.
The ability tree has three separate branches available so while you’re playing through the game, you can customize the character to fit your preferencess. Upgrading your skills requires finding specific energy-like collectibles in the world or from earning experience from battling enemies.
I jumped right into Ori at PAX having little to no idea what I was getting myself into. Starting off, it really does look as great as I keep saying, the atmosphere is designed to look like a painting and the game’s attractiveness is built on the idea that literally anyone can pick this game up and start playing. Ori and the Blind Forest can be compared to Castlevania in the way that it plays, but gives an incredibly unique experience.
Many of the enemies and dangerous environments within the game represent something you might see in a magical forest, the game almost essentially feels like a completely different take on the movies Avatar or Fern Gully.
The combat system within the game is an easy to use button pushing system that allows you to quickly dispose of your enemies and can be upgraded within the skill tree. While playing, I saw first-hand that the environment plays much more of a roll in the game than just something pretty to look at. I was faced with a puzzle where I needed to defeat a rhino like creature without using any sort of fighting ability. With a quick jump move, I avoided the charging enemy and led him crashing into a large boulder, destroying both the boulder barrier and himself, my success had opened up a new area of the game that had not previously been identified.
Ori and the Blind Forest is truly a beautiful game, as every environment has been detailed to no end, each animation and movement in the game works as fluidly as it should. The game’s narrative story is about eight hours total and in order for players to obtain everything in-game, it is required that players go back and forth. The title is coming out next week, March 11, for $19.99 on Xbox One and PC. Following the initial release, the game will be available to Xbox 360 users later in the year.