The indie boom of recent years has changed the gaming industry. Today everyone already understood that working without a publisher is not always a good decision. Nobody needs rubbish made on the knee, just because it is independent and pixel. The buzz around Greenlight and everything returned to a more or less stable state. But during this time, the most important thing happened – the big publishers saw a huge demand that exists for beautiful, magical and atmospheric games, which emphasize art direction. And therefore, we are increasingly pleased with independent mentally, but very professionally made blockbusters. These were Child of Light and Valiant Hearts, this was Ori and The Blind Forest.
The story is as simple and straightforward as possible. Not because the authors faked, but because the mood of the game is mystical, mysterious, and as if from another world. The legend is served accordingly: behind the scenes, the story leads a thousand-year-old tree standing in the middle of the Blind Forest.
The glowing leaf of this tree came off during a storm and turned into a small, squirrel-like, nimble Ori. He was immediately found and rescued from the weather by some strange creature that looked like a cute bear. The spirit did not return back to the tree but chose to live with the savior — to run in the woods, look for fruit, and enjoy life. Of course, a huge evil immediately appeared on the horizon, glorious days were over, and Ori had to go on a journey to save the forest.
This introductory takes only a few minutes but manages to arrange for the player an emotional attraction, from tenderness to tears in a stream. In two scenes you manage to fall in love with the characters and worry about them: they are so well animated, their images are so lively and understandable. The graphics level of the platformer is simply unprecedented, aiming at the Pixar level. Each decoration is traced in detail, and no one saved on the quantity and quality of animations, so every movement is smooth and soft.
Another interesting point: the authors basically abandoned the boot screens and made the game completely seamless. The camera from the main menu is immediately sent to the introductory video, and in it, the control is transferred to the player. There will never be downloads in the future: neither when traveling to the other end of the world, nor with sudden commercials, nor even after death – Ori just teleports to the control point.
A thin, dotted line of events is still there. The hero needs to do several things in different parts of the forest: insert runes into castles, melt ice, purify water, and so on. At the same time dodging a huge speckled bird, personifying all the bad things. And building relationships with some four-spider spider, occasionally coming on the way. Everything else is just a journey through the spacious world of the game.
“On my way”
At the beginning of the way, Ori does not know how to do anything except a low and very uncomfortable jump. Soon he is joined by a small flying ball that can attack enemies. He explains what is happening and sends to the free swimming.
If you have not yet learned the word “Metroidvania”, then it means the genre of games, where new levels open up simultaneously with the character’s new forces. You see at the very beginning a crack in the wall, but you cannot do anything with it. And only after some time, the hero will be able to destroy such walls – you will need to go back and see what was hidden from you. Thus, there seems to be no usual division into levels, but the sequence of actions during the passage is always the same. But there are more than enough adventures and explorations, for every bush can hide a bonus or a secret.
This is exactly the game. The animal, under your leadership, is consistently learning to double jump, jumps from enemy shells, breathing underwater and other entertaining things. Each new area that you can climb into is a unique corner of the forest: an icy fortress, in which an ancient artifact is strange with gravity; beautiful sea lagoon, where the action is transported under the water; the valley of the winds, where … the winds blow. Everything is worked out amazingly, each level offers new gameplay puzzles.
Not calm, but beautiful landscapes …
You can blame the game for the fact that connoisseurs of platformers will not see a lot of new things here: one way or another, similar themes and techniques have been exploited somewhere and yes. But the question is not in the originality of the elements, but in the quality of their implementation – and here it is at the highest level.
Ori perfectly responds to commands, moves rapidly and does not cause the slightest discomfort. A small ball flying around a hero can only attack in a certain radius, which forces them to hold close to their enemies. Close, but not touching. Opponents, by the way, are very different – from evil birds to incomprehensible jelly-like creatures. And individual representatives, such as rolling-exploding green balls, have to be used to solve problems.
From the defeated enemies falls experience, which allows you to discover symbolic improvements (see the secrets on the map, increase protection). New forces to develop will not work – they become available only by a plot. The classic scheme for any game of this kind. The only truly unique moment in all this is Ori himself, at the expense of mana, must create his own “checkpoint”. Sometimes this is a big problem if you completely forget about the unaccustomed use and do not persist for about thirty minutes. But a successful save point can be used several times.
Finally, the main thing that distinguishes Ori and The Blind Forest from analogs is a high level of complexity. Some episodes have to be replaced 20-30 times. Sometimes you have to turn long and complex combinations of actions without the ability to survive, sometimes fights become really difficult, and the final level generally requires you to make a nearly two-minute call without errors and delays. The issue of complexity, of course, is very subjective, but it can be said with certainty that everything here is more severe than, for example, in the final episodes of Rayman Legends.
Another fabulous beauty
It’s impossible to talk about this game for a long time because there’s really nothing to talk about: the story is simple and fits into five commercials, there is no need to describe the gameplay of the platformer, and everyone has already seen the metro version more than once. And the game is very beautiful.
But simplicity and brevity is not something bad. On the contrary – in each of these aspects, The Blind Forest strives for the ideal. Magical music, a huge scope for fantasy, a sense of adventure and perfectly worked out mechanics put the game on a par with the best representatives of the genre. You will rarely find a “simple” game for which you can spend six hours in a row.
Pros: great graphics; magical music; classic gameplay; Touching story.
Cons: the game behaves badly on weak PCs; for revolutionary ideas – not here.