Another casualty in deleted games on my Nintendo Switch – the demo for Ori and the Blind Forest by Moon Studios. This is a stunning game that I’ve left to fester a bit too long. I don’t know what I should have expected, but it certainly wasn’t the visual feast that this game offers.

I’ve repeated time and time that visuals play a massive part with everything. As much as some would pretend they don’t care how something looks, it’s equally important that a game is worth playing. It’s official, Ori and the Blind Forest is indeed playable. Excellent in fact. But what’s it all about?

It all begins when Ori, the character whom you play, falls from a tree in the form of a magical leaf made of light. You are nurtured by this amazing looking creature named Naru (I looked it up) and the two grow a strong bond as the tale develops in the form of a montage. All is tranquil in the forest that they dwell until the darkness comes and ends with Ori being left to fend for themselves. Ori soon recognises that they are the chosen guardian to restore the forest, Nibel, to its former glory.

A playable cutscene of Ori walking alone through the dark forest

Hello darkness, my old friend…

Ori and the Blind Forest is a 2D platform game. In case I haven’t hinted, it’s gorgeous. The character animations and design are beautiful, but more importantly, the controls are really tight. It’s effortless to move Ori about as they jump from platform to platform. As you’d expect, there are plenty of nasties knocking about. In the demo its these thorn-like creatures that attack with purple shards of light. Ori can retaliate as they are helped by an orb of light named Sein. Sein attacks with their own trail of splendour while circling Ori.

After defeating an enemy, you collect orbs that can be used towards upgrading Sein’s abilities. It’s a skill tree with three paths, and you have to unlock one at a time. One way will help you absorb the orbs quickly and without having to physically collect them, while another path helps you build up your attack – a.k.a. Sein’s flame. As it’s a demo, I only unlocked about six or seven of the features, so couldn’t comment whether they are game-changers or not, but it’s a nice touch. Additionally, Ori uses these things called Soul Links. They are a checkpoint portal you can place anywhere but are limited in number. So, there is a strategy to use them effectively as you will be visiting them often. Visiting them because you will die. A lot.

This seems to be a recurring theme these days for game deaths. It’s not like any of these Soulstype games as it isn’t really as frustrating as it sounds. The only obstacle is if your spawn point is miles away as you’ll have to go back and do it all again, albeit, you have the option to grind your skill points. There wasn’t much point in doing that in a demo, mind.

Ori running the gauntlet of projectiles
Ori enjoying classic platforming action - jump the lights

On first impressions. Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best looking platform games I’ve ever seen. It follows the mould of some of the genre’s heydays on the 16-bit machines, only polished to meet today’s standard. I say today’s standard – this game came out on the Xbox 360 back in 2015… which prompts my motivation for purchasing this on the Xbox 360 instead. Why? Because I could probably pick this up cheaper than on the Switch. Nothing against the Switch version but you pay a premium on the eShop and other than being portable, it’s precisely the same game as far as I can see. If it goes on sale on the eShop, then I’ll buy it regardless as it’s that good. That I’ve seen of it thus far.

Ori and the Blind Forest is out now on the Switch eShop, and the proposed sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is expected in the first quarter of 2020. Nice.