Friday, 20 March 2015

Ori and the Blind Forest: XBox One Review

Ori and the Blind Forest: XBox One Review


Platform: Xbox One
Developed by Moon Studio

I won’t lie.

The opening moments of Ori damn well brought me to tears.

Mixing the very best of Studio Ghibli hand drawn visuals, hauntingly beautiful music and exceptional platforming mechanics, this tale of a white guardian forest sprite called Ori is pretty close to gaming perfection.

The game starts with Ori falling from the spirit tree and adopted by a creature called Naru (wearing a kabuki style mask) – but tragedy befalls this friendship and soon Ori finds it’s time to trek deep into the forest on his own. But, after an initial look around, Ori befriends Sein a blue floating light who helps on the journey by attacking creatures from the forest and keeping Ori safe (through the use of the X button)

So, Ori’s quest begins…

To say too much about Ori and The Blind Forest is to rob you , the player, of the experience and rich deep emotional immersion.

In terms of gaming, it’s nothing short of immersive and eye-wateringly gorgeous, thanks to hand-painted backgrounds that are reminiscent of the artwork of Rayman Legends. Lush greens, blues and nicely lit 2D graphics make it stand out beyond belief; it’s a game that’s using the best of the Xbox’s mechanics to present a visual feast.

Game play itself is relatively easy to start with, but grows progressively harder as time goes on with puzzles requiring a bit of intelligence to conquer as well as a lot of excellent timing on the keypad. 

The difficulty can at times be frustrating, but a continual save mechanic that’s in the game means you get to restart the tougher moments when you die when and where you want, rather than at a checkpoint. These are enabled in-game by the collection of energy which create “soul links” for you to utilise; the catch though is everything after the soul link’s use is lost if once you die, so you have to collect it all again. It takes time to gather the soul links, so you will be able to utilise them, but you’ll need to know when to activate them.

Progressions come through the ability tree mechanic which help you build up your skills and those of Sein too – they’re easy enough to instigate and require collections, so you’ve got to stomp the creatures and ensure you collect all you can to get to the top of this particular tree.

I think it’s safe to say that Ori and The Blind Forest is a classic game for its genre and for the XBox One exclusives; it’s got the storytelling down to a fine art, the platforming down to perfection and the graphics to grab you wholeheartedly from beginning to end. It may take a little time for this forest to envelop you, but trust me, when it does, you won’t want to leave.

Rating:


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