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Ori and the Blind Forest Review - Hope and Pain Distilled


Ori and the Blind Forest is a metaphor of tragedy and restoration. If you've ever experienced the pain of loss, you'll relate in an instant. It's also a solid 2D side scroller with a mix of Metroid Prime and Rayman thrown in.

Oh, those visuals...
It's a is a visual masterpiece. The use of colour, shading and graphical design are exceptional. What impresses more, is that Ori and the Blind Forest runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second. The game's graphics are a pleasure to the eye, and it runs very smooth as well.

Every environment has uniqueness to it. For example, The Valley of Winds uses darker shades to imply its desolation. Hollow Grove is brighter, more varied in colour. Moon Grotto tones down the brightness even more than The Valley of Winds. Moody moonlight permeates its machinations, and adds to the atmosphere.

Ori acts as a beacon of light in the Blind Forest, flowing through the world. You'll see Ori flipping and climbing with the dexterity of an energetic child. You'll also see improvements in Ori's movement over time. These implementations echo themes of growth and strength through adversity. They're also a practical way of highlighting the game's protagonist, while allowing lighting variations. Moon studios animated enemies as well as Ori himself. The visual flair of the game extends to the way they spark and radiate.


It sounds great, too

Music and soundtrack are so great in this game, it wouldn't surprise me if Moon Studios sold the soundtrack. Each area had its own music. Sound effects such as scrubbing dirt off slopes or steps remained subtle, but clear. The heart-tugging strings of the game's soundtrack are a delight. The songs matched the environments, which is rare thing to hear. The detail and effort that went into the creation of Ori and the Blind Forest is extraordinary.

My heart broke into several pieces and Ori mended it again
There is something heartrending about the way Ori and the Blind Forest plays. It's like reading a mature children's novel, not unlike Neil Gaiman's The Ocean At the End of the Lane. From the beginning I got thrown into this bittersweet mix of hope and sadness. Ori is innocent. Everyone else is wiser and jaded - and their sacrifices for Ori are painful to watch. You'll find several lumps in your throat that you never thought existed. Saving a tree by taking it's light and giving back is just one such moment. It's a mirror to our lives, in many ways. Even toward the end, when things got crazy - the game remained poignant, yet hopeful. It felt closer to real life than most games have ever been. This is despite it being in a fantasy setting.

If you're wondering about what the game is about though, you play as Ori, a young tree spirit. Ori has to journey through the blind forest to face an owl who has destroyed much of it. Her reasons and motivations are vague, and Ori remains the focus. Ori, you see, is the icon of growth and restoration after loss.

Does making a game pretty come at a cost, though?

It does when it interferes with gameplay. For example, when shadows prevent you from seeing enemy animations. It makes dodging and prediction a mission at times. Then there's the level design inconsistency. If you're going to play a side scroller, there had better be challenge. It's a problem when a platform you're jumping off is too low, hindering game flow. The same issues arise when bouncing across cliffs. In Rayman Legends difficulty only arose when you needed to respond quicker. Here your timing may just be right, but control issues often interfere with navigation.

The fact that the game plays better with the DPAD than joysticks may put some players off. It did for me at first, but after a few hours it was the only way I wanted to play the game. Digital buttons respond quicker in Ori and the Blind Forest. I would assume that playing on a keyboard on PC will provide the same result. Take note that I reviewed the Xbox One version.

I need to highlight that these are not major issues. Ori and the Blind Forest is consistent most of the time, and fun.


Ori and the Blind Forest is an exceptional game. Is isn't just the visual and aural presentation. It's the way that the story plays out, how it plays on your heart strings. There is a beauty to every area in the game, even with the destruction of the world around. If there were one theme I'd associate with Ori and the Blind Forest it'd be resilience. You'll need to be resilient to tap into this game. It's worth it in the end, though. Would I call this game beautiful? Yes there are times when it is, and times when frustration takes away from it. I'd say that if you have any inclination to emotive storytelling, this is the game for you. And yes, this game is much like life itself.

You have to play Ori and the Blind Forest if you have an Xbox One, Xbox 360 or PC.

Zubayr's Facebook Twitter / MWEB GameZone Twitter Facebook


lease note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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