Back in 2015, Moon Studios released its first official game as an indie team called Ori and the Blind Forest. After just 7 days, the game had already sold well enough to recoup production costs making the game an incredible commercial success especially given that it was made by a team with no prior history of releases to lean on. That isn’t to say they had no experience as one of their founders Thomas Mahler had spent his time previously employed by Blizzard before deciding to leave the company to found his own independent studio with Gennadiy Korol.
The decision turned out to be a profitable one, as they hired a team across the globe to work over telecommunications and created two prototype games, the second which titled Sein gained funding from Microsoft to begin development. After four years of development, Sein was retitled to Ori and the Blind Forest.
But enough on the development backstory, let’s talk about the game itself. Ori and the Blind Forest is best described as a side-scrolling platformer with Metroidvania and RPG mechanics. The first thing you’ll find in the game is that the music and art are absolutely over the top beautiful. The second thing you’ll notice is that the story is absolutely over the top heartbreaking. In this game you play as a forest spirit named Ori who was born of a great tree, but was lost after a great storm blew Ori far from the tree. Ori is later found by a bear-like creature named Naru who adopts the young spirit. We see a montage of their time together foraging fruits to eat and enjoying each other’s company, but the fruits on the trees do not seem to grow back for some reason and after some time the area of the forest they live in becomes barren. Naru decides to give the last fruit to Ori, assuring them that she is fine without it. Ori then goes out and finds a hidden batch of fruits that were missed and triumphantly returns only to find that Naru has passed in their short time out. Heading out on their own and weak from hunger, Ori doesn’t make it very far before they collaps and begin to die. Just as this happens, the great tree in the background lights up and a line of flowers glow leading up to Ori, and reviving them. After this, the game begins proper.
So let’s talk about the gameplay. As it was stated before, the game is a side-scrolling platformer Metroidvania. This means that you get an open world to explore and that there are plenty of secrets and collectibles to find scattered throughout the world. As you progress through the game you’ll gain new abilities that allow you to explore further and further. The platforming is incredibly smooth, and the abilities you gain will allow you to string together several combinations to reach greater heights or soar far distances. One of the first platforming abilities you’ll get is the wall jump which works a bit more like a climb than a jump as you can repeatedly jump off of the same wall over and over to continue climbing higher, and this isn’t a glitch but a feature that is used often in the game. Shortly in the game, you will meet another spirit named Sein who has the ability to fire balls of light, which will be your form of combat in the game allowing you to constantly attack enemies with a press of a button while you’re near them. This combat system is great because it allows you free movement while constantly dealing damage and you don’t even need to face the enemy. The game also has some RPG elements regarding an experience system and a skill tree. Throughout the game you will use a unit of energy to create save points meaning you create your own checkpoints, and it’s at these checkpoints that you are able to spend skill points on different skill trees to upgrade your movement, combat, or ability to find hidden collectibles.
If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, you can buy the definitive edition of the game for Nintendo Switch right here on Humble Bundle. A portion of your payment for the game will go to charity and another portion will help support me! Check it out!