This game took me by surprise in many aspects, but was somewhat predictable in others. A good game deserves a good and comprehensive review, so let’s not beat around the bush. Here we go.
What’s the lifespan? [How many times did I step away from the game and come back to play that game again instead of a different one? How long will it last as a playable title in the future?]
To be completely fair, I bought this game two weeks after it was released, played it for two hours, then set it down for about a year. I didn’t even pick it up again until one of my followers on Twitch asked my opinion of it and I told him that I haven’t played it in a long time. The reason I set it down was, I believe, a minor fault of the game and a major fault of mine, which I’ll discuss later. At the end of the day, however, you can probably play this all the way through a good 2-3 times before you felt like you did absolutely everything that could be done unless you like to speedrun. This is a game that will age excellently, but may not have much replayability. As of right now, after completing it once, I don’t have the inclination to play it again in the near future. I feel like I will probably revisit it, but not for a while.
How long did I play the game in total at the time of making this review?
Total Hours Played – Score: 70/80
I currently have 11 total hours clocked into the game, but if we subtract all of the times where I was mindlessly redoing things that I forgot to save, it would probably be closer to 8-9 hours for my first playthrough. Remember to save, people!
Hours Per Session – Score: 15/20
Besides the first two-ish hours that were split apart, every other time that I played the game was 2+ hours per session. I wouldn’t set it down unless I got frustrated or tired, so that is a win in my book.
How much content is there? Did it feel like a complete, undivided experience? Did it have depth? [Hours of playtime/things to do and ways to do them, etc.]
This is a very linear experience, but the way you go about it is kind of your choice? It’s hard for me to say since platformers like this aren’t really in my repertoire. The game has a few puzzle elements thrown about, which are both challenging and fun, and other things like collectibles to keep you busy if that’s your thing. This game gives you a little bit of choice, but ultimately it will end the exact same way every time.
As for a complete experience? This game most certainly has it. I never felt like I was being cheated out of some gameplay or story elements that were either removed or something for which I had to pay extra. Satisfying beginning and end, and very satisfying 3 middles. If you are going to play this game/have played this, you will understand what I mean by that.
How engaged did I become? How much of an impact did it have on me?
Not gonna lie, this game definitely impacted me and I wish I could spend more time talking about the story, but I can’t because that would spoil a good deal of elements that are essential for you, before you play this game, to not know whatsoever. This game knew exactly how to pace itself, and there were very, VERY powerful moments laden throughout it that WILL make you tear up and become more heavily involved with the characters. One thing that I didn’t like so much were the dialogue boxes.
While playing the game, you will have a mostly silent companion named Sein that follows you around and a sort of narrator, aptly named the Spirit Tree that is for all intents and purposes the ‘God’ of the forest, and they will be the only two entities that speak to you whom you can understand. Writing this review, I think about how much more powerful the game may have been if you still heard their voices (that you wouldn’t be able to understand without the text-boxes), but you could only understand Spirit Tree. If instead of verbally instructing you, Sein would show you more of a vision or lead by example as he/she gave you tutorials on different abilities that you acquire as you progress, maybe via a bit of shape-shifting. I would have preferred that version. It doesn’t add, nor detract points from the score, but it is something that I would have liked to experience. Sometimes there are very emotionally powerful things that happen throughout the game, then afterward, or even during, you will get narration on the topic that I think is bafflingly unnecessary. “Yes, thank you Spirit Tree and Sein, I know that what I saw was pretty intense, you don’t have to narrate/reiterate it for me.”
How well were things explained? [Was the story captivating and the mechanics understandable?]
Mechanics – Score: 30/35
Everything was understandable and there were no points in the game where there was something I needed to know was unexplained. I knew what to do, the challenge was actually doing it.
The cause of my dismay and, ultimately, the delay of playing the game toward which I hinted earlier had to do with the saving mechanic, which has to be done manually. If you make a lot of progress and you forget to save your game before you either exit the game or you die, you’re talking about potential hours of gameplay and progress lost forever. That happened to me twice where I lost nearly two hours of the same stint of play, thus causing my severe frustration and I ultimately put the game down for a while.
In the defense of the devs, I think that it was two-fold. Over the course of the game, I appreciated this saving mechanic because it ultimately added quite a bit of depth to the game with how it costs you energy to do it, but can give you health and access to your skills tree. Then you have to decide when and where you’re going to save, which plays a huge part as to how much time you’re either going to spend or save, redoing or skipping parts that you already completed. The other side is that I think the developers, since they have instances in the game where it gives you an ‘auto-save’, were stressed for time and it was easier to code what they did than to have a fair auto-save feature. This also removes blame from the developers if the auto-save ever seemed unfair had it been implemented. When you start the game, get into the habit of saving when you can while, at the same time, making sure that it isn’t unnecessary since it does cost you energy; that becomes important for the third (of nearly six) chapter of the game.
The only reason that I docked five points is because there were events in the game where you wanted to manually save, but the game would say ‘No no no! The area isn’t safe!’. No, the area is safe, you just want me to die and repeat this part over and over again until I do it perfectly in one go just to annoy me. It was so obtrusive and bewilderingly present that I had to mention it. Did it annoy me? Hell yes, and it will annoy you too. I understand that the game wouldn’t want you to be in an endless loop right under the enemies and be unable to escape their attacks, but don’t punish me all the time when I’m doing the final run of an area and there is obviously a place I can set a point, but you’re just stubborn about it.
Story/Lore – Score: 65/65
Once again, there wasn’t anything too cryptic and I felt very informed as to why I’m doing these things and for what purpose. It was beautifully cinematic during the entire time I played it for many reasons, the story being one of them. It did have complexity and things that you eventually understand, but the premise was simple and easy to grasp. There were a few times where you could call out exactly what would happen and when, but even fewer times where things took you by surprise. HOWEVER, there are moments that completely knock you out of your seat in many ways, be they unexpected or how perfectly they were executed.
How was the gameplay?
The gameplay was excellent. That’s the answer you’re looking for, ya? No? Why did I dock 10 points? I wanted more from it. I wanted more complexity than what there was. During the final stages of the game, pretty much the only efficacious way of playing it was redirecting projectiles or doing your Ground Stomp. Any other method was appallingly underpowered and just a complete waste of time. You could do it, but it would ultimately put you in more danger since you’d be spending more time with an enemy that could either trace you or shoot projectiles at you.
How much were my senses tickled?
SFX – Score: 10/10
Perfect. Satisfying, appropriate, and I couldn’t imagine a single way for anything in the game to sound differently.
Soundtrack – Score: 20/20
I have a tradition of listening to the soundtrack of a game that I review as I review it (except Rocket League), and this one is absolutely incredible. There are songs that will give you goosebumps during moments that will move you. Nothing feels out of place. Scary area? Foreboding music. Happy thing happened? Uplifing music. Sad thing happened? Downtrodden music. Fast-paced elements? Quick music. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I never felt like the music was looping at any point either, which is something that I would easily notice after I spent a considerable amount of time in a particular area.
Voice Acting – Score: 20/20
Even though the language the characters speak isn’t one that you could understand, it was still done very well. Ori sounded like a scared kid, which made you bond with him/her more. Sein was a similarly constructed companion that you respected. Naru was a mother-figure with whom you bonded immediately. The Spirit Tree sounded like an extremely powerful character that you could trust and looked after you. Good job, devs.
Graphics – Score: 19/20
As a 2D platformer without many 3D models, you may expect it to have simple graphics, and it does, but they are very good and extremely effective. I knocked it down a point because there are a few instances where things you believe to be in your plane are actually in the foreground or background, leading to unnecessary death and time wasted. I know that making the distinction is ultimately up to you, the player, but it could have been more easily displayed in some instances so you weren’t running into a death-trap thinking it was part of the scenery or ambiance.
Controllability -Score: 30/30
Unlike many games, Ori and the Blind Forest did an amazing job at letting me know that every single move I made, be it good or bad, was ultimately my success or mistake. Never EVER did I think that it was the fault of the game that I died or had to restart, it was on me, which is exactly what you need to have in a game like this. The Ground Stomp is a little sensitive to actuate in my opinion, but you get used to it fairly quickly.
How few bugs were there? [Any glitches in the game negatively impact the score based on how much they ‘broke’ the game or ruined my experience. After first week only.]
At first, I didn’t know how I should grade this, either while streaming or on my own time. I chose to grade it on how it played while streaming in this instance. When I first got the game, the most common issue that I had was that the game would sometimes stop registering that I was using a controller to play, and the only way to fix it was to exit the game and restart it via my keyboard. It would happen after 10-20 minutes of playing and it wasn’t fixed for me until AFTER I picked it up again a year later. What? The next was very strange where my framerate in game would be terrible and the entire game except the soundtrack would slow down, and that happened consistently until two weeks ago.
Those things combined to make a very, very poor impression of the game when others of higher graphical caliber and CPU intensity perform effortlessly well while I’m streaming and running several other tasks. Here is a link to my fairly beastly computer. The game doesn’t have much of an excuse, in my opinion. It’s working well for now.
Availability and diversity of settings?
There aren’t many graphical settings available, even for a simple-graphics game. This game was to be experienced the way the developers wanted without any interference from the person in front of the screen/monitor. There are a few effects that you can turn on and off, but that’s really about it besides resolution. I would have docked it more points, but there isn’t too much of the game that you would be able to customize anyway in terms of its appearance or sound.
How was the optimization? [ Size of files, ability to run smoothly, etc.]
Sizes – Score: 25/30
I was SHOCKED when I opened up the folder and saw that the game was 7.4GB. Most of what makes up the game’s file size are the graphics and things with which players interact, and neither of which are things found in abundance. I thought that this game would MAYBE hit 5GB, but I was blown away by 7.4. Even Rocket League takes up less space. With that said, 7.4GB isn’t that much of a sacrifice.
Performance – Score: 61/70
Even if we completely ignore the bugs and glitches that this game has, this game would still noticeably stutter from time to time for no apparent reason. I have no clue how, on a high-end, enthusiast, or hell, even a laptop would have trouble running this game. Amount of sense made: None.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: -/20
Didn’t play the game at launch, this is null.
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: -0/20
If you must choose, your DLC/Microtransactions better be damn good and fair, or have none at all. You can buy the soundtrack.
Customizability – Score: -5/20
Yes, I docked points for this. I wanted to see armor or clothes throughout the game and be able to have chosen what I wore to possibly give me buffs throughout the game in more ways than just a skills menu. Why is that such a bad thing? Sure, it’s somewhat, mildly trivial, but I felt like it would have been an easy thing to add to make Ori look cooler and adjust your playstyle accordingly; for instance, do I want higher jumping or take a hit to my dexterity so not all of the enemies murder me outright? It would have been cool. It would have added more depth and given it a bit more life.
Community Correspondence – Score -/20
I wasn’t very involved, nor am I very involved with the community of this game. This is null.
Promises – Score: -/20
I didn’t hear about this game at all until it came out, so I have no idea what the devs promised. This is null.
Performance At Launch [First week only.] – Score: /20
DLC/Microtransaction – Score: 5/20
You can buy the soundtrack, and nothing about the game is annoyingly locked behind a pay-wall.
Customizability – Score: /20
Cross-Platform – Score: 0/20
Ah, yes. Published by Microsoft Studios. I’m surprised they even let it come to PC instead of locking it to the XBox. No extra-credit for you, jerks. If you’ve listened to me rant on Twitch or YouTube, you can see that I get pretty emotional about the stupidity of exclusives. Only for PC? Those games don’t get extra-credit either, even though I’m PCMR in a sense. I’m a gaming egalitarian, and anyone playing on any system should be able to enjoy this game.
Promises – Score: /20
~~~~~Final Score: 890 / 1,000~~~~~
Adventure? Puzzles? Platformer? Stunning yet simple graphics? Amazing soundtrack and gameplay? Stellar character development without much dialogue? Addicting, challenging, and fun? Hit the feels? All for $20? Yep. I would recommend this game to pretty much anyone. I normally spend more time talking about the game in this final section of the review, but the less you know about it, the better. That is for sure. If I were to rate this game as a whole, I might rate it higher, but I have a very deeply-rooted philosophy that anything in life is a sum of its parts, and some of its parts just aren’t perfect to me. Improvements could have been made to make it better, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great.