Moon Studio’s released ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ on the Xbox One a year ago with fantastic reviews that followed. If you’re a fan of the game, it’s a great opportunity to jump back in and if you’re like me and haven’t played the game before then now is a better time than ever to experience the game and the true brilliance it has to offer.
It was highly praised for its beautiful visuals, world design, emotional narrative and fantastic platforming style gameplay. We now have the ‘Definitive Edition’ already, which is a very early second edition of the game and some people may instinctively think negatively about it but in fact this is a fantastic version of the game with some nice improvements and extra features.
You play as a small feline creature known as Ori, who is a spirit living in the forest. You find yourself orphaned after a sad and tragic event that sees the forest slowly dying. The game has a very sad beginning that packs an emotional punch. I was instantly drawn into the beautiful world and the events take took place. Ori is guided by a spirit called Sein along with the memories of your fallen friend. It becomes your job to restore the forest to its true state by setting out on a perilous journey to gather important elements.
The forest is full of monsters, tricky environmental hazards and obstacles to contend with in order to progress. The level of depth and emotional storytelling is great and does a fantastic job of making you feel immersed in the world and story. I could tell almost instantly that this was going to be a game that I was going to love for a multitude of reasons. I was simply amazed by the gorgeous hand-drawn aesthetic that feels reminiscent of children’s animated films like Pixar with beautiful environments and well designed characters.
The world changes and evolves as you progress and I loved how various areas have different themes and overall visual style. I found myself stopping at times to simply look at how awesome the game looks. The game also runs very well with no loading times, smooth animations and it almost feels like you’re playing through a vibrantly coloured storybook or graphic novel.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is a game that not only looks stunning but also plays fantastically well with pixel perfect movement that simply feels awesome. The forest of Nibel is a dangerous place that needs you to have perfect control and thankfully the game does so brilliantly. The game may look visually charming with bright neon colours but the game is very challenging at times, and you will find that you die a lot. Thankfully the new save system in this version allows you to save frequently by holding down the B button on the Xbox controller.
The most notable changes in this new edition is the fast travel system that allows you to jump between parts of the world. So if you like getting all the collectables in a game like this then it is now a lot easier to do so. I had no idea this feature wasn’t originally available as it feels so natural and integral in the game. The game also has two brand new areas to explore, including Black Root Burrows and Lost Grove. It’s always great to see re-releases that not only tighten and improve the overall experience but also add a little something extra to further enhance the product. These new areas feel as well designed as the rest of the game and blend perfectly into the rest of the world.
Another notable addition in this version is the ability to select different difficulty levels. You can either play in easier settings or if you really want a challenge that is one of the hardest I have experienced in a long time then you can play in One Life mode. You only get one chance at playing the game almost perfectly to beat it. Having an easy mode allows you to fully take in the beautiful design and scenery but if you want more of a challenge you can up the level of difficulty. I personally played it on normal mode as I like to play the game at the level in which the developers intended it to be played.
The gameplay as I said before is fantastic, with tight controls that feel responsive. Ori jumps, wall climbs and uses various magical abilities to traverse varied environments and obstacles. You can even take out enemies with various attacks like lighting bolts. There is a skill tree in the pause menu that allows you to upgrade different attributes and skills. The game clearly takes inspiration from Metroid and Castlevania games with its ability upgrades and the chance to go back and access previously inaccessible areas and hidden items. For examples when you unlock the ability the wall climb you can reach high ledges or use an explosive blast to break down walls and barriers.
You have mana containers which are precious because they are used for explosive attacks, and also required for saving the game. The game becomes extremely challenging as you progress and saving becomes a vital part of moving forward in the game and ensuring you don’t have to restart too far back when you die. The levels have a good mix of challenging environmental puzzles with tricky platforming. There are also boos encounters that require you to carefully work out how to use your skills to successfully defeat them. The game gets incredibly difficult but when I died I never felt cheated and I could always see where I went wrong or what I needed to do differently. The gameplay is fun, fast-paced and using the different skills and abilities feels varied. The animations in gameplay look great and moving Ori looks and feels smooth. The game certainly does take some practice but the satisfaction of successfully guiding Ori through tricky challenges feels extremely rewarding.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is simply beautiful and is one of the best looking games I have played in recent times. I often found myself dying because I was looking at the world around me instead of paying attention to the danger around me. The world is also diverse, well designed and varied throughout with unique enemies and themes. The whole experience feels well constructed from start to finish and every area made me want to progress to see what could possibly lie ahead. I also loved Ori as he looks like a character from a Pixar movie with expressive movement, looks unique and full of personality despite being a silent protagonist. I played it on PC and it ran brilliantly with smooth animations, steady framerate and awesome lighting effects. The world always feels vibrant and alive and stays consistent throughout. The sound design is also absolutely outstanding with a soundtrack that enhances the emotional and dramatic moments during the game. The opening to the game is sad and the music perfectly suits the visuals and help make the experience even more immersive.
There is now also the addition of a Theater area where before only the cutscenes were available, but now there is a large selection of concept art, extra videos, storyboarding, and other initial artwork. These additions along with the improved gameplay features and new areas make for an improved overall experience for an already highly praised game.
Overall I loved my time playing through Ori and the Blind Forest and unlike the definitive editions of many games, this isn’t just a simple second edition with improved graphics. It has added new content, with new areas, improved mechanics and a look behind the scenes at some interesting development aspects. Veterans will also appreciate the ability to dial-up the difficulty level to experience a real challenge. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is quite simply a fantastic game and is one of my favourite games in recent times. I would highly recommend playing this version of the game if you played the original and if you haven’t played Ori and the blind Forest yet then now is the perfect time to experience it at its best.
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