- This review contains spoilers.
Ori is a 2D Platformer with a Metroidvania world design. The forest dying and Ori must restore to its former glory. The game is absolutely beautiful and each area that you visit is uniquely beautiful. But be warned, this game may look beautiful but don’t let that fool you, this game is challenging.
The game starts out and its a sucker punch to the gut right off the bat. There is this character named Naru, she is Ori’s foster mother. You guys are spending all your time together, eating and hanging out. But in the opening sequence, it’s a series of time skips and as time is moving forward the forest is slowly dying. As the forest is slowly dying so is Naru and eventually, she succumbs to the elements. Which 10 minutes into the game and its heartbreaking.
Once you get passed the initial 10 minutes and the game begins there isn’t much story until the very end of the game. Which is fine, I typically prefer it when the story doesn’t get in the way of gameplay.
I am a fan of Naru even though she doesn’t have any lines and she’s barely in the game. The way she is portrayed in the prologue is so memorable and it’s one of the most impactful starts I have seen. When she lays down and Ori goes off and collects fruit for the 2 of them to eat, Ori discovers she has passed and just cuddles up and snuggles with her one final time is heart-wrenching.
When it comes to platformers, the most important aspect of the game is the platforming. What separates a good one from an okay one is the feel of the game. This game feels great, moving around and jumping there is tightness to the controls and that is absolutely vital to this game because there are tough platforming moments in Ori and you need that accuracy.
One of the strengths is the way the puzzles are integrated into the game, they just feel like they’re apart of the environment. Rather than thinking, “how do I solve this puzzle?”, I would just be thinking “How am I going to get over there?” and why I like that is, it stops me from thinking about the game mechanically, I’m just playing the game.
With any Metroidvania, a huge aspect of the game are the abilities that you unlock along the way. These are important because as you unlock the abilities you can now go to new areas in the world. There are a total of 11 abilities that you unlock in the world and they’re all listed in the order that you unlock them.
This is Ori’s main attack, you shoot projectiles at enemies and kill them. It’s very useful.
Fairly self-explanatory, it grants Ori the ability to wall jump. This is ability isn’t just useful, you need it to get the new areas.
This ability is 2 fold, its a charge attack but also an ability that unlocks new areas. Ori can break through specific barriers by charging into them which leads to new areas and secrets.
This is another fairly simple ability to explain. It’s a double jump and this one is for me was a game-changer. The game never felt right until I unlocked the double jump. Once, I unlocked this ability, I knew this game was special. It went from a good game to a great game.
This is an ability that is a little harder to explain because it’s not quite what you would think when hearing the word bash. That’s why I have included this picture, you can do this move with enemies, projectiles and also lanterns which is what is shown in this picture. When you get close to one of these 3 things, you can activate this ability, which then on screen an arrow presents itself showing where you’re going to be launched next. So there are areas in the world where the only way to progress is by launching yourself to the next enemy, lantern or maybe waiting for enemies to shoot projectiles towards you. It’s a difficult to explain and a little hard to get used to but once you get the flow bashing 4,5,6 times in a row feels really good.
Another more straight forward ability, while in the air you can stomp the ground either doing damage to nearby enemies or some floors break. Like a lot of the other abilities, this unlocks new areas and secrets in the world.
The feather is a very video-gamey ability (it’s more of an item). It lets you slowly glide to new areas in the world. There is also a wind area where this ability is heavily used.
Climb is just the next evolution of the wall jump. Now you don’t have to wall jump, you can just climb up the wall.
Charge jumped is just a jump that is charged and it lets you go further or jump higher. This is the final ability that I unlocked.
Note, there are 2 abilities in the game that I never unlocked. They’re locked off in secret areas that I never found.
- Light Burst
With any Metroidvania game, there is a risk/reward aspect of pushing forward or backtracking to try to find a checkpoint/save point. This game is no different except it is different, there are no specific areas that are checkpoint like you would find with a Castlevania game. Instead, checkpoints are a resource that you can expend at any point. So you make the checkpoint where ever you see fit but keep in mind it is a resource so you do want to be smart about it. I’m a big fan of this system it’s in the spirit of the genre but also puts a fun spin on it.
The boss fights in the games are less traditional boss fights where you’re fighting a powerful enemy with a lot of health. Instead, they’re escape sequences with very precise platforming. They’re extremely difficult portions of the game but once you complete the escape sequence it’s extremely rewarding.
I keep talking about Metroidvania but I’ve come to the realization that I haven’t really discussed what that means. A Metroidvania is a style of game that is traditionally 2D and heavily focussed on exploration. Your goal is to explore every nook and cranny, looking for upgrades so you can get to new areas in the world. For instance, it’s common that there is a high ledge and you can’t reach the top with your standard jump. But if you had a double jump then all of a sudden you could get to the top of the ledge. So you go around the world, explore everything you can. Get a new ability like the double jump and now you can explore a whole new area of the map.
I don’t how to describe this music without being hyperbolic because I think it’s perfect. This is not music that I like to listen outside of video games but in the context of this game, the music perfectly encapsulates what this game is about. It’s so beautiful and fits the aesthetic perfectly.
One thing that is nice about the Xbox One is, it tells you exactly how long you played a game. As it turns out, I played this game for 9.5 hours. The game does not overstay its welcome, it’s a great length.
Recap: The Good
Recap: The Bad
Recap: The Okay
Recap: Final Thoughts
I loved this game. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t play this game sooner. It is something special that I think everyone should try. I don’t know if it will gel with everyone with how difficult the game is but everyone should at least experience some of this game.