ori and the blind forest

Ori and the Blind Forest

I listen to a lot of instrumental music on YouTube, like Nier: Automata soundtrack, Westworld soundtrack, Persona 5 music, etc. Sometimes I let YouTube’s autoplay just run wild, and that’s how I ran across the beautiful soundtrack for Ori and the Blind Forest.

I had vaguely heard good things about this game from when it first came out, but I was on the outs on video games at the time so never looked into it. After being randomly introduced to the soundtrack, I started listening to it on an infrequent regular basis. Finally, this last weekend, while visiting a friend, the topic came up and he decided on a whim to buy the game. We ended up playing it for a few hours then and there, and wow, what a gorgeous game.

Ori is a Metroidvania game, meaning it’s a 2D platformer where you gain the ability to do more and more things over the course of the game. Your only actions at first are the standard running and jumping, as well as being able to shoot things with the spirit that follows you around. The new actions you learn include Megaman stuff like double-jumping, wall sliding, charge attacks, etc. There is also a consistent map where you can always travel back to old locations to find secrets and powerups you couldn’t reach the first time you did the level since your actions were limited.

You play as Ori, a… I’m not totally sure, forest spirit?… on a quest to restore the dying forest. It’s kind of a somber story… along the way, you find I think remnants of dead forest spirits that you commune with to gain their powers. The primary antagonist is a giant shadow owl Kuro, who you discover only attacked the forest to begin with because the Tree of Light, Ori’s “biological parent,” as it were, killed her shadow babies when it spread its light trying to find the lost Ori.

The soundtrack and very vibrant and pleasant, and goes well with the art direction. There is no human civilization in this game, although there are some stone and wood walls that operate from switches, so most of the environments are some variation on nature. A gloomy forest, a dark cavern, a windswept mountain. There are also levels for the “temples” that restore certain powers to nature, namely the water temple, wind temple, and fire temple, that are much more puzzle-focused rather than pure platformy.

I played on Normal and finished the game in about 12 hours or so. I spent some of that time going back to explore places I couldn’t reach before, so I probably could have done it in less time. I ended up with I believe 88% of the total world explored, and I know I skipped an entire optional dungeon, so there is definitely more content to explore. There are a lot of classic platformer sequences, like moving platforms, dodging periodic projectiles while navigating spike pit-filled areas, and ceiling traps that drop when you get too close, the usual.

I bought the game for $20 straight up and already consider it money well-spent. Again, love the visual/audio combination, and the game itself is challenging with fun puzzles that aren’t so hard you’d throw your controller, but you do get that sense of satisfaction when you clear it or figure out a trick for the first time. If you’re looking for a great game to spend a bit of time on, maybe switching off with a friend, Ori is a great choice, and it has a sequel coming out next year!

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