Play as a glowing guardian spirit determined to bring light back to the forest in Ori and the Blind Forest a Metroidvania platform-adventure game that recently came out for the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Moon Studios and published by Microsoft Studios, Ori is a 2D platformer that forces players to be quick on their feet to traverse numerous, beautiful levels and solve increasingly complex puzzles. The game’s underlying save system is limited, which means that players will find themselves working hard to solve puzzles, but will be forced to repeat them on failure.
The story of Ori begins when the eponymous character falls from a tree in the forest as a young spirit and is raised by a creature named Naru.
Ori is a small, brightly glowing forest spirit that players guide through the game alongside Sein, a glowing orb that guides Ori in their adventure and can be used to attack enemies. Ori is orphaned at the beginning of the game when Naru dies during a cataclysm that darkens the forest, and Ori sets out to restore the light.
Direct Ori through the forest and restore the light with Waters, Wind, and Warmth
Ori can jump, climb, and use other abilities to navigate the 2D environments of the game. Sein can launch spirit flames to fight enemies and shatter obstacles. In order to progress through levels, Ori must interact with the environment – which can include deadly thorns and other lethal barriers – in order to leap from platforms, rebound off walls, and solve puzzles.
The objective of the game is to restore light to the darkened forest by retrieving and revitalizing three different elements: Water, Wind, and Warmth. Each of these elements also affects the 2D platforming and puzzles that Ori will interact with – meaning that when seeking Water, Ori will find levels awash with pools and rivers, Wind will have birds and blustery gusts, and Warmth brings the devastation of fire.
As the levels progress, they feel like training for the use of new abilities that will be used later during the challenge section of each level, which are high-energy frantic escape scenes.
Although the game does a good job of introducing the player to mechanics, and therefore Ori’s abilities, it also jumps suddenly in difficulty with little warning and forces players to push themselves to the limit.
Ori is a beautiful adventure through the stunning majesty of visual and sound design
It’s easy to forget the difficulty of Ori when looking at the beautiful art and level design. Although Ori is small, the presence of the small being on the screen draws the eyes and ignites nearby foliage and other screen elements. Trees, moss, rocks and even enemies stand out against the hushed background of darkness.
According to the developer studio, the game’s design and vision as heavily influenced by legendary anime creator Hayao Miyazaki, particularly one of the levels “Valley of the Wind,” is a nod to “Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind.”
The combination of the hand-drawn appearance of the art style and the sweeping orchestral-and-vocal scores that follow Ori through the forest provide for a breathtaking experience. This experience goes through calm periods, punctuated by frantic, terrifying levels that will push players to their limits.
Ori and the Blind Forest launched for Xbox One and PC in March 2015 and brought light to the Nintendo Switch on Sept. 27, 2019.