£14.99; PC, Xbox One; Moon Studios

As much as I try not to, it is very hard not to judge a game within the first few moments. The Last of Us (one of my favourite games of the last generation) had an absolutely incredible prologue that set up the game amazingly, and I’m a massive sucker for an emotional opening.  While not on the same scale as The Last of Us, Ori and the Blind Forest has a remarkably moving opening that set up the story nicely.

The player controls Ori, a small white glowing monkey-esque creature who is on a mission to help save the forest in which he lives. The power at the heart of the forest has been lost so Ori must track down each element of the power to restore light and life to the forest.

While this may sound like the typical hero’s quest, the way that the story is told doesn’t feel trite or predictable and the developers have done a great job in conveying emotional scenes in very simple terms.

Though the game is 2D and uses simple techniques to illustrate the plot, it's absolutely gorgeous to look at and the world is a joy to be in and explore.

 

There is not a lot that hasn’t been done before in games, especially in the platforming genre, however Ori manages to strike that very fine balance between challenging and frustrating and iterate on what has come before. Some sections will take you countless attempts to successfully complete, but they don’t feel cheap and you keep trying because the game has done a great job of drawing you in. You want to keep playing to unlock the next ability and uncover the new way in which you will be able to interact with the environment that the new abilities bring. 

The save system is also remarkably effective, as it allows you to save wherever you want, but saving uses up a finite resource in the game that can be used for other abilities. So using your power to save may limit your abilities further on. As the game progresses and you increase your store of this energy, and thus your ability to save more often, the tension reduces, but for the first few hours it’s a great dynamic.

The storytelling is also done very well with subtle, short exposition throughout and an emotive theme of parental sacrifice that manages to completely fit with the gameplay.

Ori and the Blind Forest is a remarkable achievement and certainly one of the best games so far this year, and all this for a lower than average asking price. The Activisions and Ubisofts of the world should sit up and pay attention to what can be achieved with a small team, and ask themselves why so many of their games can’t achieve what Ori and the Blind Forest has.

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