Platform Played On: PC
Developer: Moon Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Yep. These popular Metroidvania style platformers are not my forte, but I do enjoy the special ones on occasion. This one came very highly recommended by the great Mr. Moron so I thought it was mostly safe to assume I’d really enjoy it (okay… trusting his opinion was a huge risk, I know). He was totally right, though! I was not emotionally prepared for the awesomeness of this masterpiece game…
How Far I Got
Beat the main story path in about 9 hours over a few months… with almost 600 deaths (Sorry little Ori, I’m terrible at games). I was playing on Easy difficulty too. Yikes! I have no desire to collect all the things, or to go after shiny Steam achievements I missed. Honestly, the main story path was challenging enough for me. Seriously, some of the platforming tricks were pretty tough for me to pull off… but yeah, I did it! Wanting to see the epic story unfold was motivation enough for me to keep pushing ahead until the end.
This is one of those games where the less you know about the story going in, the more rewarding the whole experience will be for you. For that reason, I’ll shut up about the plot details outside of my spoiler area, but it says a lot when a game can have me caring enough about the characters to wanna weep within the first 10 minutes of the opening cutscene. The game’s story delivery is really something special, and on a level that’s way, way above what I thought any platformer was capable of conveying.
You take control of the super cute guardian spirit named Ori, and his light orb partner Sein who is used as a slashing weapon to beat baddies (among other important things). Your main mission is to restore the Elements of Waters, Winds, and Warmth to return balance to the land of Nibel, while trying not to cry about the detailed plot stuff I won’t ruin here. You traverse the game’s gorgeous environments to accomplish your mission in a slick 2D platformer style fashion.
In addition to cool platforming moves you learn as the story advances, there are also some RPG elements at play. By beating bad things and stumbling upon Ability Cells (some are hidden pretty well in the environment), Ori collects Spirit Light. Accumulate enough of that and Ori gains an Ability Point that you can use as you wish in the Ability Tree. To access this menu, you need to create a Soul Link which consumes energy. Soul Links also play a very, very critical role in the game: SAVING!
It’s up to you, the player, to create your own checkpoints, thus saving your progress, through the use of Soul Links. If Ori dies, which will most likely happen to you a lot, the game will reset you back to your last Soul Link. I can’t stress this enough. To avoid unnecessary grief: SAVE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN. Ahem. But do try to be careful about where exactly you save, in case you can’t get back out of the area easily, or run out of the energy needed to create them in a series of tough spots. I tried to save whenever I made it passed especially brutal obstacles. You can also respawn at a Soul Link as often as you wish, with no penalty. This encourages frustratingly fun trial and error methods to figure out the many platforming puzzles (or if you’re like me, lots of error and a little dumb luck).
And yep, many spots are hella hard to get through, but I never found the game to be unfair, just challenging. A lot of patience, persistence, and confidence is all you need to push on ahead! The game controls are smooth, but I found the keyboard layout uncomfortable on my laptop. Once I switched to a PC gamepad, the game played so much better for me. I must also mention the awesomeness that is this game’s orchestral music soundtrack. It really adds a huge layer of feelz to the game’s narrative, along with calming my gamer rage in those particularly perilous platforming spots. Adding in the cute character animations and stunning environments pushes this game well into epic masterpiece territory.
My Overall Biased Opinion
I have to say, many of the big studio games out there have been disappointing to me lately, but I’ve had the pleasure of being wowed by many Indie games, like this one, that have obvious heart and soul. It truly shows when a developer cares about the world they are creating, not just just slapping something with a big name and shilling it out as a cash cow. Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful journey with an important underlying message about how we are all connected. We all go through our own personal tragedies in this life. Always remember, the person being an ass to you could quite possibly be living through their own personal hell.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Metroidvania style games there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t check out this title. The adorable character designs and moving musical scores that play throughout the journey came together perfectly to get me right in the feelz, more frequently than I want to admit. The platforming action is certainly intense, but far from impossible. Seeing the wonderful conclusion to this epic story is well worth pushing Ori through all that pain.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This section of my video game reviews is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
My Game Summary
Prologue: “Through the passage of time. Life withered and died.” The game opens up with a thunderstorm happening (I know I was hooked from the first lightning strike) and a glowing leaf blowing away from a great Spirit Tree in the forest. The leaf morphs into the Spirit Tree’s guardian spirit named Ori and the emotional platforming adventure begins. Ori is adopted by a nearby loving creature Naru, who found the poor little guy all alone. The game did a fantastic job of showing the maternal bond Naru formed with Ori in mere minutes of cutscenes. The scenes show the pair joyfully devouring tasty treats, and having a blast building a bridge to a more plentiful food source.
Unfortunately, things just as quickly take a dark turn. A terrible event makes the forest wither and die. Naru unsuccessfully tries to find more food, falling hard out of a tree in the process. She soon dies of starvation at Ori’s side, after giving Ori the last bit of food she had left. Even the hardest of hearts will have trouble not crying while witnessing Ori try in vain to wake the deceased Naru, after carrying in an armload of food Ori had found just moments earlier. The now orphaned and weak Ori wanders alone into the forest and collapses in defeat. As he takes in his last breath, the big Spirit Tree springs to life in the distance, using its last bits of strength to revive Ori for the journey.
Sunken Glades and seeking out the mission: “Kuro stole Sein, it was the end of our days.” Soon after, Ori finds their companion Sein (the Spirit Tree’s light) and after visiting the dormant Spirit Tree the mission is revealed. An enormous evil bird named Kuro stole Sein from the Spirit Tree, throwing the three Elements of Light out of order (Waters, Winds, and Warmth). Ori needs to go to the Ginso Tree, the Forlorn Ruins, and Mount Horu to rekindle these elements and save the land of Nibel.
Ginso Tree and the Element of Waters: “While Ori brought light and hope to the forest. Others gave in, embraced darkness and fear.” To get into the Ginso tree, Ori needs an object called the Water Vein that a two-legged-spider creature named Gumo, a member of the Gumon race, has stolen. After a long pursuit, Ori finally corners Gumo in his hideout, where he drops the orb and flees in peace. With the orb, Ori can enter the Ginso Tree proper to rekindle the Element of Waters. With the waters restored, there is a mad dash to escape rising water using the Bash ability to launch Ori off enemy projectiles… that part was hard. Once you make it to the top of the tree, Kuro shows up and knocks Ori into the world below. In a huge surprise, Gumo shows up to save the little guardian spirit. That was nice of him!
Forlorn Ruins and the Element of Winds: “Once lush and green now covered in ice. Those who didn’t escape paid with their lives.” On the way to Forlorn Ruins, you’ll discover that the big angry bird Kuro is blocking Ori’s path. Knocking a rock above loose scares Kuro away (and gives you a feather to use as a cool paraglider), allowing you to proceed into the frozen Forlorn Ruins, while acquiring the Gumon Seal in Misty Woods along the way. The Forlorn Ruins is filled with tons of tough gravity puzzle platforming, but I made it! My brain hurt from all that thinking though. Anyway, here it is revealed that Gumo’s people froze to death after the Element of Winds was disrupted. Moved by Sein’s words about honoring the Gumon when the element is restored, Gumo takes the Light Veil object used here. For what? We’ll find out soon. Ori has to use the paraglider to escape Forlorn Ruins and float into Kuro’s Nest.
Kuro’s Nest: “All along she was simply protecting her last child.” In a short cutscene that rivals the utter sadness of the prologue scenes, it is revealed that Kuro’s three adorable babies were killed by the Spirit Tree’s light while she was out getting food for them, but one unhatched egg survives. Kuro was crushed and that’s why she turned evil and stole Sein. Kuro soon appears and chases Ori away from the egg. You have to rush through the next area, quickly taking cover often since Kuro one-shots you if you stay out in the open too long. Sein feels for Kuro too, but says it’s time to continue the mission. Ori floats to the top of Sorrow Pass to get the Sunstone object needed to enter the last area. With the Sunstone in hand, a cutscene reveals what Gumo was up to. Wait for it… Gumo went back to the beginning stage and revived Naru with the Light Veil!! OMG. The happiest moment of the game for me.
Mount Horu and the Element of Warmth: “As they fought for their lives amidst the fires of Horu. Naru wished solely to see her child again.” After entering the final area, a cutscene shows Gumo and Naru in hot pursuit of Ori. Gumo is blocked from continuing on so Naru waves goodbye and pushes forward. Mount Horu is definitely the most challenging place in the game. The overall objective is to climb to the top with the Bash ability, and work your way down, entering 6 different cave areas to block the flow of lava. This ultimately drains all the lava, opening up a path below in the main chamber. When the Element of Warmth is fixed, angry Kuro appears to pursue you once again. At the end, Ori tries to fly off to the Spirit Tree with the paraglider feather, but is ripped out of the air by Kuro.
The Bittersweet End: “She left them to burn, thought she vanquished my light.” Just when all hopes seems lost, Naru shows up and cradles the defeated Ori in her arms. Witnessing this makes Kuro remember her poor kids, and also notice that the fires are about to destroy her nest and kill her last child. Kuro quickly flies away and drops Sein back into the Spirit Tree, killing herself in the resulting light but saving the land of Nibel. The end shows the Spirit Tree’s forest restored to its tranquil glory. Before the credits roll, we are shown that Kuro’s last egg has been adopted by the loving Naru… and it’s about to hatch!
Favourite Story Moment
Definitely that bittersweet ending. I loved how Naru just walked right up and cradled Ori, not caring at all about the big angry bird standing right there.
Probably the Dash ability I learned in Black Root Burrows. It’s one of two abilities exclusively available in the Definitive Edition of the game. I’m glad I got it since it helped me a lot in the later stages of the game!
Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment
The cave in the last area where Ori has to outrun a wall of freaking lava. Damn! That was intense platforming.
Floating at the very top of Sorrow Pass. The view was spectacular!
Ori. He’s so freaking adorable and it just makes me have so much empathy for the little guy.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
Trying to figure out exactly how the gravity mechanics worked in Forlorn Ruins. Not gonna lie, I had to cheat and read a guide.
Saddest Freaking Cutscene
Watching helplessly as Kuro’s three little chicks accidentally get murdered by the Spirit Tree’s light. Ouch!! Right in the feelz 😦
Total Playtime: 9 hours 12 minutes 56 seconds
Game Completion: 74%
Respawned: 584 times
Life Cells: 2/12
Energy Cells: 5/15
Ability Cells: 3/33
Steam Achievements: 25/57
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡