Once in a while a new studio comes out with their first title and simply floors gamers. This was the case with a few indie titles like Polytrons’ Fez and Team Meats’ Super Meat Boy, and is now also the case with Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest. This is an absolutely beautiful game with a beautiful story, challenging gameplay and it goes without saying that the game is beautiful.
Nibel forest is a beautiful place. It’s lush landscape, dense tree habitation and gloomy light gives it an almost haunting feel which really helps set the tone for the game. Our introductory character Naru travels through the forest and soon comes across the tree of life, from which a leaf falls and gives birth to our main character Ori. The next scene has Naru and Ori simply running around the forest and having a great time. This, however is where things take a turn for the worse. An evil spirit shows up, Naru disappears and the forest begins to die. Left alone to save the place, Ori sets out on the adventure of a lifetime.
The cool thing here is that the introduction to the game is an interactive movie. Moon Studios could have easily made this section a cut scene like so many other titles before it, but instead the studio decided to put the action in the players hands, which had us deeply immersed from the get-go. A great design decision in our opinion.
Simply put, the controls implemented in Ori and the Blind Forest feel great. Right from the start exploring the forest with Naru felt very natural. Naru has a weighty and almost jelly-like look and the controls make that look very tangible. Naru moves around with a bit of a sluggish feel and has a little bit of a delay or slow start when moving from a standing position to walking or running. The button layout also feels very good, as everything is laid out right where it should be.
Graphically…Just look at it. It’s gorgeous, there’s not much else that can be written.
Exploring the open world of Ori and the Blind Forest is a blast. It has a feel of many other open world retro titles of the past like (of course) Metroid or Castlevania (I refuse to use the term “metroidvania”). Much like the previous titles mentioned, keys and other items must be collected in order to unlock new areas, but once unlocked they stay unlocked. The game is also bleeding with other hidden items and secrets. I couldn’t move more than a few feet before I found another collectible. Of course the visuals also kept the environment frest and I never felt bored even when I decided to just run around and ignore the story objectives. The nice part is that even when I wandered off the beaten path, I never felt lost. Whenever I decided to jump back in the action, it was very easy to find my way back.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a must play. It’s a rare treat that every gamer should play. I had a blast and couldn’t put it down. The neat thing is that people watching me play couldn’t take their eyes off of it either. I can’t remember the last time anything like that happened, and I’m sure it’ll be a long time before it happens again. Moon Studios has my attention and I’m already looking forward to what they have up their sleeve next.