Ori and The Blind Forest Review: Metroid Meets Miyazaki
After almost a year of waiting, Ori and The Blind Forest is finally available for Xbox One owners. The Hiyao Miyazaki inspired visuals and hard as nails platforming are sure to satisfy those who have been salivating over this game since its initial reveal. Ori is one of the better Metroidvania titles you’ll play on Xbox consoles, standing up to classics like Shadow Complex as Metroid/Castlevania style adventures.
You play as Ori, trying to save the forest by way of three life-giving elements through the game world. The game world is sprawling and you’ll get lost from time to time. That’s not a big deal considering how much fun it is to explore said game world. Combat starts off very simple and over time you evolve to make Ori more capable that it is initially.
Abilities like double jumping and wall climbing are dispersed over time along with several other neat abilities. Ori can eventually use enemies as a slingshot to navigate some of the trickier platforming sections. You can even send an enemy’s projectile back at them, providing for some fun encounters. Combat isn’t dull by any means but could use more variety and style for sure.
Its a good thing Ori is given interesting new abilities as there is quite a bit of backtracking. Normally a game with heavy backtracking would risk having too much repetition but things like the slingshot ability keep things fresh. There isn’t a way to teleport to other parts of the world and that’s annoying, for sure, but not a major hurdle.
This isn’t an incredibly hard game but your skills are tested. The game’s three dungeons use all the skills you’ve amassed up to that time one hundred and ten percent. This isn’t a Zelda game where you’ll only use a dungeon item once or twice, everything you’ve learned to do will be required for these dungeons. These conclude with a rush to escape sequence like you’ve played in a Metroid title. A race against the clock ensues and can be very frustarting. The moments are unforgiving and when you fail you start at the beginning. They aren’t all that long and they’re certainly dramatic but I wonder if the developer couldn’t have found different ways to conclude each dungeon.
One of my gripes with the game’s HUD is that Ori’s life bar isn’t all that noticeable. I appreciate that the HUD isn’t intrusive but I’d often forget how close to death Ori was and take a risk I wouldn’t normally take and end up dying. This is of course my error but a more present and noticeable HUD would have been welcomed.
Players save by using Soul Links which allow you to save at anytime, nearly anywhere except for the three dungeon “race to the end” sequences. You will revert to your last save when you die so save often. Multiple times I forgot to save and lost 5-10 minutes of progress since Ori has no autosaving at all. Again, this isn’t a big deal but its something to remember.
The orchestrated soundtrack serves as a fantastic backdrop for an emotional quest. Visually, the game is stunning. No one will ever disagree with that. The art direction is jaw dropping, oozing personality at every turn. Being compared to the timeless art seen in Hayao Miyazaki films is a huge compliment and one that isn’t awarded lightly and entirely accurate in this case.
Ori and The Blind Forest is a visually stunning Metroidvania that can be a bit frustrating but is solid overall. It is well worth your money consider how great the adventure can be. Platforming is very good even if it isn’t of Rayman or Super Mario quality while combat is fun but leaves a bit to be desired. You’ll thoroughly enjoy your 10-12 hour experience with Ori and maybe even shed a tear from time to time.
Ori and The Blind Forest isn't perfect but it does more things right than wrong. With solid platforming, decent combat, an heart-wrenching story and superb art direction its an easy recommendation for Xbox One owners. Review copy provided by the publisher.