Review – Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
Anyone that knows me would know about my love for Ori and the Blind Forest, in my opinion one of the greatest games of this console generation. With it now on Switch, I get to re-experience this masterpiece whenever and wherever I want to.
Set in the forest of Nibel, the light of the forest has went out and Ori has become lost. Ori sets out on a journey to restore light to the forest before the darkness consumes it forever. The less that you know about the story, the better, as it’s a brilliantly touching tale with strong storytelling and emotional moments (that freaking intro…). The main villain’s motivations are understandable and ironically shed a bit of light on its actions.
The first thing you notice when you boot up Ori is just how beautiful the game is. Literally everything, from the character designs to the background and little details in the worlds, is a delight to look at. There’s a great usage of colour and lighting that makes the forest burst with life. Every aspect of the visuals just ooze creativity with a ton of care poured into the world, with each of the game’s areas having a distinctive look and feel.
Nibel is large and interconnected with a ton of secrets and passageways to discover. most of which won’t be immediately accessible, and in true Metroidvania fashion, will open up as you move through the game and acquire new abilities. It gives the world an organic feel by pushing you back to explore the opening areas to find each of the game’s many, many secrets. More than once was I surprised with how connected the world felt as I looped back to earlier areas. There’s some tangible incentive for doing those things as well, with upgrade points, health bar and energy upgrades taking the entirety of the collectables.
Each of the game’s areas has its own unique mechanics and gimmicks to help it feel different. The majority of the game is focused on platforming with some light puzzles mixed in, and this is some of the best, well controlled platforming I’ve ever witnessed, with fantastic all around level design. Moving around the world of Nibel is smooth and incredibly satisfying thanks to the game’s very tight controls. Ori starts off with a basic moveset, jumping and shooting, but as the game progresses, many more abilities become available, such as double jumping, climbing, swimming, dashing and many more.
The combat is straightforward, seeming a bit too simple at times, but it does exactly what a game like Ori needs. Simply spamming the Y button to send off little spirit orbs can deal with the vast majority of enemies easily. Things get a bit more exciting when you throw the platforming controls into the mix, as well as other abilities you acquire throughout the game. Using the ground slam or bash ability to send enemies flying to their deaths is incredibly satisfying.
At the end of each area there is a thrilling escape sequence that puts your skills to the test. Everything the game teaches you up to these points is used and you need to chain them together smoothly to escape. There’s little room for error, with no checkpoints or save states, so death puts you back at the start of the sequence. Even though some will complain about the difficulty spikes, I feel like they are just fine, and a perfect way to end each section of the world. They are short bursts of gameplay but you are always moving with clear directions of where you are supposed to go.
On your initial playthrough, you will die a lot. Don’t you worry, though: you will gradually get used to the level design and Ori’s abilities, with your skills improving in no time. My very first playthrough saw my death counter in the hundreds. Thankfully enough, death isn’t overly punishing, and the game doesn’t take too long to restart, so you are never wasting too much time. To help with this, Ori has a checkpoint system where you can use your energy to place down spirit orbs to save your game in any safe position on the map. A particular section giving you trouble? Put a save station down to play it safe. On the flip side, if you haven’t placed a save point down in a while, you will lose a bigger chunk of progress. It’s a clever addition that makes saving more of a tactical choice.
Then we’ve got the absolutely perfect score by Gareth Coker that propels the experience to another level of perfection. Each and every single moment is made even better thanks to the game’s soundtrack, from the heartbreaking opening to the exciting chase sections and everything else in between.
Technically speaking, this is also the definitive edition of Ori and the Blind Forest, with all the improvements of other versions, as well as some extra tweaks, such as small visual improvements and the ability to return to the world after completion. The highlight, however, is the addition of two new areas that are built seamlessly and naturally onto the map, being some of the best places to visit in the game. Playing on the Switch has also been a treat, being perfectly comfortable to play on-the-go with a solid locked 60 FPS.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a fantastic metroidvania game that I would suggest everyone would check out. The emotional story and strong gameplay come together for an amazing experience. Being able to play this masterpiece on-the-go makes what was already perfect even more perfect.
Like a painting in motion. Every single frame in this game is pure perfection.
Strong platforming and world design pull together for a great gameplay experience.
Gareth Coker’s soundtrack is emotional and perfect.
Fun Factor: 10
Ori is one of the finest games of all time, and being able to play it anywhere makes things even more perfect.
Final Verdict: 10
Ori and the Blind Forest is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.