It’s not very often I step away from the comfort of my PS4 or Wii U, but due to the lack of an XBOX One in our collection, I have taken the leap to have a go at a PC game. I am not disappointed. After seeing a few streamers talking about Ori and the Blind Forest, I decided to look into it a little bit more. What I have discovered is a beautiful and challenging world which I am thoroughly enjoying.
I have yet to complete the game, mainly due to other titles in the mix which are taking up my time. But this is not due to boredom, lack of ability in using the PC controls I am not accustomed to or because I have an issue with the game. I cannot stress enough how stunningly wonderful this game is. It is possibly best to describe it as a side scrolling, Ghibli-esque dream world, which draws you in from the outset and wants you to stay. Even the opening sequences are enough to bring you to tears with the plight that has befallen the forest and sends you on your way. As Ori is left alone and close to a sad ending before being saved in order to fulfill the challenges that lie ahead. The forest is dying and Ori needs to save it.
Ori, is cute as a button and you feel incredibly bad should you accidentally cause some sort of accidental death by spiky surrounds, forest creatures or drowning. My death count is worryingly high and the game loves to remind you in the pause menu of how badly you’ve treated Ori along the way. In the beginning, you are pretty weak but can leap and start to negotiate the forest surroundings in your first steps towards building up your skills and abilities. Your 3 branch skill tree is built up with the ability points you gain from killing enemies and orbs your collect. It is worth racking these up as when the tricker stuff starts to kick in, you will be glad to for the extra orbs or abilities. You’re trees are linked to a ‘Soul Link’ which allows you to save the game and also unleash a blast of energy to take out enemies and obstacles. As you progress through the story, you will also learn new tricks such as double jump, bash and underwater survival. Some of these can take some getting used to, especially bash. It seemed to take a while for it to become natural as it only works when there is something for you to… well… bash! Still, all of these skills turn Ori into a little forest minion fighting badass.
Controls wise, as a non-PC gamer usually I opted for the keyboard and mouse combo but think I would probably cope better with a controller. With what I imagine to be pretty standard controls, you can navigate through the forest and click furiously to take out enemies and traverse the landscape. It is worth keeping a look out for little hidden paths and noting when you find an area which you can’t quite do yet due to not having the ability as you can return to these later to retrieve orbs and such which you might like if you want 100% completion. I will admit, at times I have struggled with the controls and furiously mashing the space bar has left me wondering if my thumb (and the keyboard) are cut out for me attempting PC gaming. Still, I am glad that Ori is my first venture beyond pointing and clicking in Worms, Five Nights At Freddy’s or wondering what the hell I’m meant to do in Surgeon Simulator.
There is no doubting that this game is beautiful. The surroundings are very detailed and every section in and around the Ginso Tree makes you want to sweep away the evil that has taken hold of the forest. Due to the side scrolling view, you’ll notice little things such as scurrying creatures in the foreground as you peak through the undergrowth to follow Ori though the areas. Everything feels like it flows and it’s very natural which I suppose is how it is meant to be. Either way, it’s breathtaking and you certainly get sucked in once you start. The soundtrack is also wonderful and it is very tempting to purchase it just to have the aria on repeat.
As I’m probably only 25% of the way through, I can only tell you how much I am enjoying it and as the difficulty is starting to increase, I feel it’s a game that you’ll enjoy spending time playing and not just want to get it over with. If I manage to pick up a controller, I will probably attempt to finish it with a different set up and the trickier timing is something my left hand just cannot keep up with (it is not my strong hand). So far, I think this is a wonderfully charming and gorgeous game. While I am a little sad that it is only on XBOX One and PC as I think it would run really well on PS4 and if the spec was right, Wii U. I am enjoying this PC experience and Ori is certainly a lovely game to ease in with and I highly recommend it to be one of your purchases this year if you can.