Ori & The Blind Forest
Clearly setting out its stall to be regarded as one of the best looking platformers of all time, Ori and the Blind Forest is an aesthetic masterclass from developer Moon Studios. It’s a cacophony of colours and contrast, with superb lighting effects adding beautiful accents throughout the experience, but there’s an awful lot more to this game than just good looks and basic platforming.
Instead, this is a game that’s as challenging as it is gorgeous, but thanks to a wonderfully balanced difficulty curve, it rarely throws too much at players too soon, allowing them to gradually get into the swing of things as the game’s charming overarching storyline plays out. Things start off routinely enough, with basic jumping taking the early focus before Ori begins to unlock new abilities, each of which help solve problems or tackle enemies in new ways, and it’s all very well managed, with exploration encouraged ( although, sadly, there’s no revisiting to search for hidden items once the game has been completed) and plenty of things to discover throughout. With a powered up Ori now able to take on the game’s enemies head to head, the game takes on a second lease of life, and edges into Metroidvania territory, arguably as well as any game we’ve seen in the past few years, with plenty of backtracking through earlier stages on the way to new locations. Potentially the most divisive feature of Ori and the Blind Forest is its dungeon escape sequences. Coming at the end of each of the game’s three dungeons, unsurprisingly enough, players will be forced to race perilously through increasingly difficult environments on their way to safety, all without checkpoints or the ability to save mid- level. There’s plenty of frustration lurking in these sections, but the sense of accomplishment when muscle memory prevails and you emerge unscathed on the other side is nothing short of incredible. With a good 8- 10 hours of gameplay here, as well as plenty of Achievements to challenge players to up their game ( completing the entire game without dying is borderline impossible, so fair dues to anyone who manages that one), Ori and the Blind Forest is right up there with the very best digital only titles in recent memory, and it’s one that every Xbox One owner should be adding to their collection sooner rather than later.