Ori and the Blind Forest came out last week, and I was very, very excited that it did.
I’d first seen a trailer for Ori, oh, sometime in 2014. It looked incredible, sad humming music over amazing artwork of a giant black creature and its small, white companion.
Obviously it immediately went on my wishlist, and I didn’t even know what kind of game it was.
Fast-forward to last week, and its release. It’s out! I said, and leapt to Steam to purchase my copy, and start the download. It’s out! What did I buy? It turns out, I hadn’t read anything about the game and had no idea if it was even good. I was excited for the beauty of it, for the smoothness of the world and the delight of the music, and it was worth it for that alone.
Oh, but the game, what did I buy? Well, let me talk about that.
Ori is a side-scroller. It’s a platformer. It’s Metroidvania, my most beloved of all genres. It is gloriously pretty, what appears to be hand-drawn and animated to silky smooth perfection, and Ori’s movement is fluid and responsive and breathtaking to behold.
It’s amazingly pretty. Did I say that already?
I am loving this game. Except for the tree, all the major characters are referred to with female pronouns. Ori is a she, the angry owl is, Naru. Everyone has been she so far. I can’t describe how wonderful it is to just have “she did this” or “she did that” as the standard narration.
It’s such a wonderful change from the Male As Endless Default that we’re subjected to.
This game isn’t for everyone. You have to enjoy the Metroidvania style of considerable backtracking and exploration, working through areas where you’ve already been. Repeatedly. If you like your levels to be new and distinct, this perhaps isn’t for you.
The other thing about Ori is that its platforming is really hard. There’s a sequence about a third of the way in where you have to use a newly unlocked movement ability while being chased by insta-death. And this way goes a long way, and it’s hard. As a sequence it’s about 2 minutes long but it took me over an hour to clear, solely because of the perfection required.
As a result, I’d describe Ori as a love-letter to platformers and old, 2D Metroid games. It’s intentionally challenging and frustrating, asking a great deal of the player in terms of dexerity and precision, rewarding excellent play with a heady rush of, wow, I just outran THAT.
And I barely touched the ground.
It’s pretty. The music is lovely. It stars female creatures. It does so many things right and it makes me so happy, even when it makes me want to throw the controller because I can’t quite get the precision right.
If this sounds like your thing, I wholly recommend Ori.
If it’s not your thing, I don’t recommend it because it will be a wholly frustrating experience.