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Ori and the Blind Forest Review

  • First Released Mar 11, 2015
  • Reviewed Mar 9, 2015
  • XONE
Jeremy Jayne on Google+


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The first ten minutes of Ori and the Blind Forest depict a beautiful and soul-crushing story of friendship, selflessness, and loss. They recall the opening minutes of Pixar's Up! in their melancholy, and like in Up!, the introduction provides an emotional foundation for the life-affirming journey that follows. It is a phenomenal opening--a short and wordless tale, playacted by two expressive characters who move with purpose and demonstrate pure affection towards each other.

There's a certain elegance to the game's initial sorrow, and it translates to the way you move through this exquisite 2D platformer. Ori and The Blind Forest is, on a fundamental level, structured as so many other platformers are; It springs from the Metroid and Castlevania tradition, gating your progress behind doors that can only be opened once you have learned a particular skill. As the nimble, lemurlike Ori, you leap and flit about with fantastic grace, and as Ori's abilities improve, so do the joys of navigating his world. When you learn how to climb walls, Ori responds wonderfully to subtle movements of the analog stick, allowing you to finesse him into exactly the right place, such as a sliver of stone embedded within a sea of lava. When you earn your double-jump, Ori somersaults like an acrobat and reacts in mid-air to your aftertouch. What a delight to have such fine control over a character this agile.

Don't be too distracted by the beauty: The sequence that follows is deadly enough.
Don't be too distracted by the beauty: The sequence that follows is deadly enough.

One by one, you learn new skills, and new challenges arrive with them. Ori can fire energy orbs at nearby foes when he isn't avoiding them completely, and those creatures can be difficult to overcome. The blobs that stick to walls and ceilings? They aren't much of a hassle, at least until they coat the surfaces you need to cross and spit acid onto the ground. They won't let you stay still: You must take advantage of Ori's dexterity, by leaping over acidic pustules, jumping from wall to wall, or putting the other abilities you have to good use. For instance, you ultimately learn how to deflect projectiles, aiming them back at your foes while propelling yourself in the opposite direction. Turning an oncoming ball of fire back towards its owner is fun, but if you don't pay attention, you could thrust Ori into a wall of spikes, or into a crow hovering nearby.

Propelling yourself through the sky in this manner becomes one of Ori and the Blind Forest's most vital maneuvers. When you first learn it, you typically use the glowing lanterns that dangle from overhangs. Soon, however, you must fire Ori through treacherous areas replete with fiery spheres and those pesky crows, which hurl towards you as if launched from a slingshot. Timing is crucial, as is quickly determining the safest trajectory that still delivers you to your destination. That mid-air fling is at the heart of one of the game's most thrilling scenes: a difficult escape from roaring tides that swallow you whole should you make a single grievous error.

No Caption Provided
Ancient contraptions provide an air of mystery and wonder.
Ancient contraptions provide an air of mystery and wonder.

The trial and error this scene and others require can prove frustrating if you prefer to move on to the next area rather than discover, learn, and adapt. I admit to shouting a few expletives when unforeseen circumstances cut my attempts short, falling boulders with crystalline spikes covering their undersides and perilous geysers that spurted from the walls among them. But what a feeling it is to overcome these challenges. The tightly timed retreats that close each chapter are among the finest joys in any platformer--or any game at all--released in recent years. If Ori were clumsy, or if these sequences weren't timed so precisely, these moments would be simply annoying. But in Ori and the Blind Forest, each element harmonizes with every other. If you run into trouble, the game's save system eases the pain. You gather crystals as you play that function as checkpoints, allowing you to determine where you will respawn if you succumb to a bile-spewing frog. You must take care, however, not to drop these crystals everywhere you go, since you can only carry so many.

Those pulse-pounding escapes are complemented by moments of quiet bliss. In time, Ori can break his fall with a leafy parachute, gliding across the screen like a flower petal on the wind. During these moments, it's easy to appreciate the game's visual artistry. Multiple layers give each environment a lovely sense of depth. As you cross a log that bridges one tunnel to the next, thick trees rise in the background. Embers and fire crackle behind you, giving your trek across the troubled world a sense of urgency and purpose. Luminescent blue plants alternately close and unfurl with each jump, shining and glittering even as they become your next cause of death. It is a fairy tale come to life, a description that has rightfully earned "cliche" status--yet rarely is the description so apt as it is in Ori and the Blind Forest.

No Caption Provided
This is one of many sequences that combine the glee of motion with a tricky mechanic.
This is one of many sequences that combine the glee of motion with a tricky mechanic.

It isn't just the vibrant art and lush orchestral soundtrack that furnish a storybook mood. It's also the story, which is infrequently told to you via subtitles, accompanied by a narrator who chants along in an unknown language, in the style of Okami, or Panzer Dragoon Orta. It is a simple fable about the renewal of a ravaged land; It is in the details that you find the delights worth prizing. A critter that absconds with an important artifact gains importance you don't initially expect, revealing loneliness, fear, and tenderness not with words, but with exaggerated bows and nods. If there is any blight on this atmospheric transcendence, it is the frame rate, which occasionally falters, ever so slightly, in the final hours.

It's important, however, not to mistake Ori and the Blind Forest for being simply beautiful. It certainly is--but it is also unceasingly clever. It consistently surprises you with new tricks: gravitational divergences, new ways to move through its spaces, and carefully designed levels that require you to think quickly and respond. It is not as snappy as, say, a typical Mario platformer, seeking instead a broader gameplay arc stretching across a single, interconnected world. It's a superb and thematically consistent approach that allows Ori and the Blind Forest to build joy on a bed of heartache, adding a new layer of mechanical complexity with each ray of hope.

Back To Top
The Good
Sorrowful opening is among the best story sequences of any game
Each earned skill gives movement a new sense of joy
Colorful and contiguous world is a wonder to explore
Terrific pace introduces new challenges at a rewarding rate
Thrilling escape sequences get the heart pounding
The Bad
A few minor frame rate hitches
Trial and error can prove frustrating
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd spent about 12 hours with Ori and the Blind Forest, but has yet to find every collectible and earn every skill upgrade. It is the first game of 2015 that has made him imagine putting it on his end-of-year top 10 list.
1054 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for CraZkid37

I got the definitive edition during the big summer sale. I'm playing on hard difficulty and I have to say, it's absolutely a challenge. It puts your gaming skills to the test.

The review is perfectly stated. It's an experience you will remember and seldom come across. It's just beautiful in so many ways.

Avatar image for freeformrulz

this game is so fkin frustrating not for the weak of heart dont be fooled by its art style

Avatar image for Legend002

PC is the version to play. I unfortunately have the bone version.

Avatar image for al1972

@Legend002: Nothing plays well on the XBone

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@Legend002: i play the xone version plays just fine looks fine too

Avatar image for isildor81

dont konw but ori is so small my eyes hurt when i play this

Avatar image for obsidian_born

Great review!! This game was amazing start to finish. This review sums up the experience perfectly.

Avatar image for Cronoxman

which is the best version to play? also can you play on any pc window tablets

Avatar image for osnameless

So after reading this review, I got this game and about two days ago I convinced myself to play it as I am waiting for GTA V and MKX to be released. But... Holy shit, this game is amazing, everything is amazing, the art, the gameplay, the characters, the story, the upgrade system every element is gorgeous and adds to the value of the game.

Great game in general, really great game. I am really afraid that I am gonna like this game more than MK X. This game turned out to be a really sweet surprise. Thank you Microsoft and Moon Studios for making such a great game.

Ori and the Blind Forest is a living proof that you can make a memorable game without resorting to too much violence, blood, and gore.

Anyone calls himself or herself a gamer should try this game, even if you have a PS or Wii, I don't care get a PC or a Xbox One because honestly this game is worth more than most of the AAA titles out there.

Avatar image for osnameless

If I had one complaint about this game, it would be that when you get most of the abilities, you can get most of the collectibles pretty easily.

Avatar image for monks-1138

This game is pretty sweet.

Avatar image for Pauly_D

"Reviewed on Xbone... The Bad: A few minor frame rate hitches." Yeah.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld

I loved this game, just finished it, took me longer then most others - it was a real treat to.

Play this game alone, with little distractions as their are tons of little stuff that amazes.

(I actually played this on high end PC with a controller) I do own a xbox1 also but do not have it for that platform)

Avatar image for Konuvis

Is this planned for PSN at all? I'd love to play this in my home theater but I don't have the XOne.

Avatar image for EXxile

@Konuvis: No. The game was funded by MS, and I believe they also own the IP.

Avatar image for Konuvis

@EXxile: Darrn. I hope it pops on GOG at least.

Avatar image for granskjegg

@Konuvis: It's on Steam, so at least you're able to play it.

Avatar image for GSyyStringerboyyyGS

Just finished this, what an absolutely stunning game. And it plays like a dream as well.

Kudos to MOON studios and the insane amount of love they put into this game.

Avatar image for kazeswen

9/10 Way over rated.

8/10 Tops. Leaning towards 7.5.

The game is fun, and looks good, but the story is pretty abysmal, and clichéd, the game as a whole is exactly the same as Metroid/Castlevania. There is really nothing new here, we've played this game 100 times over in the past, Ice Dungeon, Fire Dungeon, Earth Dungeon, boss, powerup, rinse and repeat.

If you've played Metroid, Zelda or Castlevania SoN then you've played this game. This is pretty much the same as every Metroidvania game ever made. Good game, but 9/10 with zero innovation? Are you serious.

Shouldn't 9 rating be reserved for games that actually push gaming forward, not rehashing it. If this gets a 9, then Transistor should get a 9 as well, at least it was innovative.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@kazeswen: More like 8.5 imo again thats your opinion "overrated" the term itsel means nothing. Just means you don't think it was as good as they claim - I do however period. To each their own.

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

@kazeswen: Yeah, the story was definitely not abysmal. It never got in the way of the the game and added enough to give flavor and impact to the game to make it worthwhile.

Super Metroid is my favorite game of all time, and this title, while certainly not as revolutionary as it was, is still an excellent game made in its style.

The idea that it needs "something new" to be considered great is the ignorant and desperate ultimatum of someone who doesn't understand the genre. Making a Metroid style game that is well designed and fun to play is a feat most developers fail at when attempted. Moon knocked it out of the park.

Avatar image for thang78

@kazeswen: 7.5 my ass. this game is a masterpiece. i don't even remember the last time i was blown away by a game like this. the artistical animations alone deserve a 9. i feel sorry for you, that you can't feel it.

Avatar image for TimotStillHere

@kazeswen: Ori was more tense and heart-pounding with every climax, while transistor not so. You can rest in transistor in the middle of climax, whilst in ori you can't. It was innovative but pushing it forward doesn't always goes well, and transistor went okay for me.

Avatar image for EXxile

@kazeswen: The game deserves the 9 it got. The developers literally wanted to make the game feel like a call back to Metroid and Castlevania, which I would definitely say they succeeded. The game is a masterpiece IMO.

Avatar image for Undertow207

Excellent game, start to finish.

Avatar image for voljin1987

Love this game. The OST is just heavenly. My fav so far being climbing the ginso tree. Wish more games were like this.

Avatar image for deactivated-58068e533d0c3

Makes me lough, in games like this one graphics mean every-thing, game-play, story, lovable characters 9/10, way overrated.

Games like the Order 1886, graphics ( mean nothing ) game-play, story, mustache, walking slowly, QTE'S 5/10. Destiny 6/10.


Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@rebfaction: yea basically everything you just said is completely for shut up...nobodies talking they are typing...and if thats the case take your own medicine ?

Avatar image for deactivated-58068e533d0c3

@Itzsfo0: This video Review is talking not typing. what you just said is completely retarded so go and take your chillout medicine.

Avatar image for Towmotorseth

@rebfaction: But the graphics aren't what make or break this game you idiot. It is FUN and engaging the whole way through.

Avatar image for adsparky

Looks awesome I'm gonna get it later for Steam. first I need to finish others.

Avatar image for Tiwill44

Well, color me impressed. Turns out this became one of my top 10 favorite games of all time, and that is definitely not something I say often! I cannot find a single flaw with this game.

The audiovisual presentation is phenomenal. This is by far the prettiest game I've ever played yet. It's breathtaking. The music is also wonderful and fits the mood of the game at all times. The sound design is impeccable; I get chills everytime I learn a new ability. The gameplay feels super smooth; simply running and jumping around is fun and intuitive thanks to the amazing character animations.

It is a metroidvania game, so you progressively unlock new abilities that allow you to go to places you couldn't go before. Backtracking never feels tedious to me, because it is mostly up to you as a player. You don't have to go back and collect secrets and uncover the map, but doing so is extremely satisfying.

Another thing I love about the game's flow is the absolute lack of obnoxious hand-holding. This is a game that respects your intelligence as a player and your ability to figure things out on your own. Or at least, it always makes you feel like that's the case. It never explicitly tells you how to do things and what everything does. Instead, the game uses clever level design to introduce new gameplay mechanics to you. It's very instinctive. The difficulty curve is also perfect; never too easy, never too hard.

I even like the saving system. The game doesn't save automatically for you; you have to do it yourself, which adds a level of tension and punishes you for not being careful. I think that's awesome.

I don't think everyone will love this game as much as I did, but... I personally love everything about this game.

Avatar image for TimotStillHere

@Tiwill44: Could only complain about the fps. Sometimes it drags when there's many elements or sparks involved. BUT THE REST IS EPIC SO IT STILL IS A MASTERPIECE.

Avatar image for voljin1987

@Tiwill44: cant speak enough about the music. been a while since i have heard such lovely tunes. died like a million times while i was climbing the ginso tree and hardly noticed thanks to the awesome music in the background

Avatar image for gravelordxd

Great game, controls imo need to be tweaked a little, the game gets very annoying with some of the ridiculous wall jumps when timing is everything

Avatar image for EXxile

@gravelordxd: I actually felt the controls were spot on, and perfect.

Avatar image for gravelordxd

Imo they could be tightened up a bit or maybe it's the 360 controller I'm using, I don't like when I wall jump he seems to flip around like a monkey hopped up on Crack, I JUST WANT YOU TO SIMPLEY JUMP TO THE NEXT WALL!!!! QUIT FLIPPIN AROUND AND DOING TRICKS

Avatar image for EXxile

@gravelordxd: Lol I haven't really had those issues in my experience with the game (I'm playing on X1). I have had some dumb jumps, but those were primarily my fault lol

Avatar image for gravelordxd

Me and my cousin were trying for about 2 hrs with this jump had to jump from wall to wall about 5 times to get to the top between spikes on each side. It finally got the best of us and I hate to give up but I had to put my controller down for a day before I smash it lol

Thing is I'm starting to think I'm not supposed to go that way yet least I hope not because if so :(

I'll keep trying later but you never had that problem where he does a 360 spin instead of just back flip to the next wall?

This game is awesome I'm also glad it's not a cake walk

Avatar image for EXxile

@gravelordxd: I honestly can tell you, I have not had that problem unless I was the one making him do it. Human nature to get nervous during jumps like those, in which we tend to revert back to where we started, leading into a 360 jump lol.

But yeah, likely that was an area where you weren't supposed to be yet. I remember there were several times during the beginning especially, when I tried to jump into areas (especially after I got the double jump) and came to the conclusion I'm not supposed to be there yet, which usually is the case. I absolutely love love LOVE the game. I zone out when I play it, my wife usually has to snap me back to reality lol.

Avatar image for p0tent

This game is truly a master piece. The visuals are beautiful. The soundtrack is great. The level and map design is brilliant. The difficulty level is perfect. Take a bow Moon Studios.

Avatar image for Schooliki

I don't get why enemies respawn. You pass through point A to go to point B, there are 2 specific enemies at A. You kill them, and continue to B. When you go back to A, the same exact enemies are there. It feels like your actions matter less.

Avatar image for p0tent

@Schooliki: It helps you level up your character though.

Avatar image for Schooliki

@p0tent@Schooliki: I agree, but they could at least have randomized them. It seems as though they were too lazy to implement a system that remembers if an area has been cleared or not.

Avatar image for gravelordxd

No man plenty of games are like that also helps to level up

Avatar image for Mirimon78

9/10 on pc, fantastic game, really refreshing.

1/10 on xb1 (because the game doesn't really work atm...waiting for patch)

Avatar image for p0tent

@Mirimon78: What are you talking about?

Avatar image for willamwallace

I guess I was imagining the game for 2 hours last night on x1

Avatar image for Mirimon78

Probably.. did you hit start? Fyi, 1 hour and 58 minutes of being paused doesn't count towards game time.

Ori and the Blind Forest More Info

  • First Released Mar 11, 2015
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • Xbox One
    Ori and the Blind Forest is a bit of a genremix of strong platforming and light RPG elements, all set within an atmospheric world.
    Average Rating292 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Ori and the Blind Forest
    Developed by:
    Mon Studios
    Published by:
    Xbox Game Studios, Microsoft Game Studios
    2D, Action, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Mild Fantasy Violence