The Xbox One adventures continue! Today, we’re talking about another game I’ve recently become acquainted with–Ori and the Blind Forest!
When I started playing this game, I was still reeling a bit from Life is Strange. Watching Peder play that game was a great experience, and I don’t regret it in the slightest: despite that, it was extraordinarily emotionally draining, even though I was just a spectator (it’s still haunting me a little, not gonna lie), and it had me craving something a lot more lighthearted.
I had a suspicion that OatBF would be just the thing, and I was right! I’ve wanted to play this game ever since a good friend recommended it to me a few years ago, which was back when it was only available as a PC game; I was thrilled to finally get the chance to try it out.
OatBF is a single-player platform game set in Nibel, a magical forest that was once powerful and full of life, but is now diminished and withering after a mysterious cataclysmic event. You play as Ori, a tiny, nimble guardian spirit, and his companion, Sein. Sein is a will-o’-the-wisp-like manifestation of the Spirit Tree of Nibel, who guides Ori through the forest and grants him extra powers (Sein is similar in many ways to Na’vi from Legend of Zelda, albeit infinitely less annoying…).
To progress through the world of the forest, you must solve a series of puzzles and get past lots of monsters, gaining special abilities and power-ups along the way. The story of the forest and the cause of its decline is slowly revealed along with the map, and you soon find that it’s Ori’s job to gather the three lost elements of the forest — Water, Wind, and Warmth. Only then can balance be returned to the forest so it can flourish once again.
The first thing you’ll notice about OatBF is that it is absolutely visually stunning. It’s a lush world painted in cool, luminescent blues, greens, and purples, and everything glows with magical potential. Even in tense, fast-paced moments, you can’t help but find it calming and inspiring. Add in a beautiful, peaceful soundtrack, and you’ve got a game I wish I could jump inside of and hang out in for a while.
Despite the relaxing and inviting atmosphere, though, this game definitely has its challenging side. It reminds me of other platform-style games I’ve played in that things flow along nicely until you hit a snag, and then you have to employ perfect precision to get past an obstacle, solve a puzzle, or defeat a monster who’s attacking you. I have to admit, this tarnishes my enjoyment of the game a bit — I’ve never been very good at video games that require a lot of precision, and even the loveliest background can start to look tiresome when you’ve attempted and failed the same tricky jump half a dozen times. However, the game is engaging enough overall that even I, in all my fumble-fingeredness, am willing to keep at it so I can find out where the story’s headed, and spend more time in the beautiful world of the game.
OatBF is a game that will appeal to veteran gamers who are looking for a delightful, atmospheric gaming experience that still affords plenty of challenge, and it’s enticing enough for gamers who (like me) might need to take some extra time and effort to get past the trickier bits (I will note that the game has an option to play on easy mode if you’d rather focus more on the story itself more than the challenging puzzles, and I’m kind of wishing I’d opted for it just to be able to get more immersed in the game — maybe next go-round!). It’s a world I want to keep on coming back to, with the hope of getting better and better at overcoming the challenges that lie ahead in Nibel!
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