I recently had the pleasure of playing Ori and the Blind Forest for the first time. With Will of the Wisps releasing March 11th this year, I took the chance to knock this game off my backlog, and you should do the same. It is a terrific game that captured me from the opening moments until the credits rolled. The game easily is worth the $20 price tag, or if you have Game Pass, you get to play for no extra charge. Here are the reasons you need to play Ori and the Blind Forest before Ori and the Will of the Wisps releases.
It’s a shorter game
One complaint I often have with games I play as I age is they take too long to beat. Games like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have large expansive worlds, but take far too much time to get lost in. For me to hit credits on Ori and the Blind Forest, I had about four hours of game time. While I mostly focused on getting through the story, I was happy to take in the environment and do a little exploring in each location. Even if you want to find every secret the game has to offer, you are going to top out at a little over 12 hours of playtime according to averages on HowLongToBeat. That gives you plenty of time to take in this game and move on to something else before Will of the Wisps releases in March.
That beautiful soundtrack
Listen to any song from the Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack and you will fall in love. Every song in the game was composed by Gareth Coker and features beautiful orchestral music that dynamically changes between gut-wrenching when needed and heart-pounding in the most intense situations. The heavenly chanting in the background of most songs is also enough to draw you in and make you an immediate fan of this soundtrack. The main menu theme sets the tone with a piano playing at your heart before you even enter the game. My favorite songs are “Fleeing Kuro” and “Escaping the Ruins.” Both play during escape sequences where your platforming must be nearly perfect for surviving. The intensity is turned up in large part to these amazing songs.
Coker returns as composer in Will of the Wisps, so be sure to get your fix of his music from the first game. From the very little music we have heard from the sequel so far, it is apparent it will be another masterpiece. You can check out the soundtrack on Coker’s Spotify.
One of the best platforming controls this generation
In a platforming game like Ori, you need to feel in control of your character. If the player feels they are falling to their death because of faulty controls, they’re going to leave the game out of frustration. However, if they are not fun controls, the game will feel stale. Luckily, Ori and the Blind Forest nails both aspects of control.
Ori starts the game with basic movements. Your typical running and jumping will be how you traverse until unlocking newer abilities. These newer abilities include a double jump, super jump, dash, and glide that all feel fluid and fun while giving you new ways to explore areas you passed through previously. The Metroidvania mechanics at play here give Ori and the Blind Forest a rewarding control scheme that is one of the best in the current console generation, right up there with Celeste.
Gorgeous art style
Ori and the Blind Forest has an art style taken straight off the cover of a fantasy book. Ori is a cute fox-like spirit creature that never speaks, but his emotions are felt through his facial expressions and body language. The art team did not leave this exclusively for Ori, however. Gumo is a character with a tragic story that you will come across in the game. He is a simply designed creature that conveys his heartbreak successfully in every scene he appears in. Even the antagonist of the game, Kuro will have you feeling for her as her actions are explained through the beautiful cutscenes that explain recent events.
Outside of the brilliant character design, the forest itself exceeded all my expectations for the graphics in a 2D game. Everything from the background to the creatures you encounter will catch your interest. Environments range from the creepy swamps of the Sunken Glades to the scalding mountain region of Horu. Everywhere you go in the forest is completely diverse from other areas. New elements of the game rear themselves, and I never saw myself getting lost or hitting an area I disliked.
An emotional story
Ori and the Blind Forest is a simple story about Ori, a guardian knocked down from the Spirit Tree during a storm. He is adopted by Naru, a bear-like creature who resides in the forest. After a certain amount of time passes, the forest begins to wither, and Naru dies from starvation. Ori is then guided by a spirit named Sein, who reveals that a dark, gigantic own named Kuro had attacked the Spirit Tree, causing it to lose its light and throw the elements of water, wind, and warmth into disarray. Without these elements or the Spirit Tree running properly, every ecosystem in the forest is affected.
Seeing the aftermath of the Spirit Tree’s absence in the forest is truly an emotional tale. Ori’s adoptive mother Naru passing away is already a harrowing experience, but once you see the rest of the forest creatures suffering through this dark time, things come into perspective. The feelings do not stop until you have fully completed the story and hit a conclusion with Kuro explaining why she would attack the Spirit Tree. While the story is short, Ori and the Blind Forest is an amazing start to a tale that will be continued in Will of the Wisps.
In conclusion, I am overjoyed with the experience I had playing Ori and the Blind Forest. Everything from the gameplay, to the music, to the beautiful art style had me enthralled in the world of this forest. Will of the Wisps quickly became one of my most anticipated games of 2020 after I finished this. The sequel’s trailers have shown more of the same aspects that made me love The Blind Forest. Do yourself a favor and play this game before March rolls around.