Wot I Think: Ori And The Blind Forest – Definitive Edition

Everyone should be allowed to take two goes at a game. A second pass after a year or so, with gained wisdom and feedback informing changes and new additions. Even a game that was wonderful on release, like Ori & The Blind Forest, has benefited hugely from such treatment, and I’m delighted to report that the Definitive Edition [official site] is sublime. Here’s wot I think:

For those arriving fresh, Ori And The Blind Forest is a Metroidvania platform game featuring an emotional tale of a world ripped of its life, and a glowy mouse-thing (Ori) who – along with the help of a floating orb called Sein – is attempting to restore the former joy. Which is to say, not an original idea at all, and yet one so superbly delivered, so beautifully presented, and so excellent to play, that you wonder if it’s the game the idea was meant for all along.

The original game, as reviewed by Pip last year, survives pretty much intact – if you loved it before, nothing that merited it has been taken away. What’s been added are two large new sections of the world, along with a few new abilities and accompanying skill unlocks. It’s an embellishment rather than a remake, and a very welcome one.

Last year’s Ori vanilla was, I believe, the best example of a Metroidvania that doesn’t have “Metroid” or “vania” in its title. Its perfect controls are too easily taken for granted because everything works absolutely wonderfully, so it just feels right – but spend any time with various other attempts at the genre and you realise how big of a deal it is for a team to nail it. The exquisite pacing, adding new abilities thick and fast so there’s always a sense of progress, of greater power, of mastering the game, is also a piece of refined crafting few can muster. That it’s also one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played is really a bonus on top of everything else. (For years my desktop backgrounds have changed every time I’ve played a yet-prettier game – Proteus was replaced by Ori, but a year later nothing else has come close. They’re still there.)

This meant I had a few concerns regarding the addition of new bits and bobs, because how could that happen without losing the original’s tightness? Turns out by Moon Studios’ carrying on being incredible. Despite one of the two new areas being a little lacking, t’other is one of the best in the whole game, and the new skills feel like they were always there – a dash and an ability to throw light orbs.

The Black Root Burrows unfortunately goes for the most dreary of platform sections (other than reversed controls, I suppose, but then they already did that) – darkness. You have to stumble about not being able to see properly, and then lug a ball of light around that makes platforms appear or disappear. Fortunately the dark section is brief, and the whole area quickly lit, which then becomes a lovely space to explore.

Lost Grove, however, is ludicrously good. It is the game at its most beautiful, colours bursting and singing, and a best-of of the game that lets you fling yourself about and solve lovely puzzles.

There’s also more of the back story of the game, new cutscenes that explain a bit more about what went wrong in the forest, and a bit of history to Naru – that panda-ish beast who looks after Ori in the game’s prologue. I always thought the story was by far the weakest part of the original game, frankly finding it hard to follow or care about beyond staring in wonder at how pretty it all was. More of it therefore doesn’t do anything for me, other than interrupt playing, but it’s still very pretty.

The Light Burst, the ability to fling balls of light around, opens up new options for puzzles too – dangling lanterns can be lit by carefully aimed orbs, unlocking doors and revealing secrets. And rather splendidly, these are scattered throughout the whole game, little extra bits and pieces tucked into the older areas, offering new challenges.

Dash is something I could have sworn the game already had, but clearly didn’t – it lets you dart left and right, which allows for more tricksy platforming in bespoke areas, as well as letting you short-cut some of the earlier dodging challenges rather than have to repeat every time you return.

Taking of short-cuts, those healing spirit wells are now teleporters, letting you leap between them to save hefty traversals of the large map. They’re few and far between, so certainly don’t prevent exploration and accidental stumblings, and again, something that really ought to have been there originally.

And for those who found the challenging game not challenging enough, there are now difficulty modes. Normal provides just the perfect combination of tribulation and serene calm, but it can now be ramped up to Hard, or knocked down to Easy, depending upon your proclivities. And for the outright deranged there’s a one life mode, which will post your progress to online high score charts, and highlight you as a masochist.

The result of this return is an even better version of one of the most delightful games of recent years. The animation will still remind you of a slicker Studio Ghibli, the music is still spellbinding, the controls are somehow improved on before. There are still occasional moments of frustration, but these are inevitably caused by having forgotten to plant a save point on your journey for too long – slightly more generous checkpointing might perhaps have been a good addition too. Oh, and the upside-down-controls-reversed section can still piss off. But these are merely gripes.

The game’s huge for its genre, a good dozen hours at least of bouncing, flinging, zapping and triple-jumping. The new sections only make it better, the new skills fit in perfectly. Few games come close to being this well made, this lovingly animated, and so madly pleasurable to play. If you played it last year, it’s well worth going back (and in May, it’s only £3.75 to update your version on Steam), if not, then goodness me, it’s time to put that right.

Ori & The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is out now on Windows from Steam for £15/$20.

From this site

43 Comments

Top comments

  1. Beefenstein says:

    Just because I'm tired of meeting people doesn't mean I endorse genocide.
  1. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    That’s a purchase.

    Also I’m bookmarking this for every time people say John only writes negative reviews.

  2. internisus says:

    Can we not call it a Metroidvania if it lacks Symphony-style RPG elements? Without level-ups and equipment stats and all that jazz, Ori is “just” a Metroid-like. Middle-era Castlevania gets too much credit in this genre.

    • Dare_Wreck says:

      Since when were those things part of the definition of a Metroidvania? I agree that the genre name is kind of silly, but it immediately tells me that the game features a big interconnected world that slowly opens up more and more as you get more and more items and/or abilities.

      • internisus says:

        Again, you’ve just described a Metroid game. So why call it a Metroidvania?

        • Dare_Wreck says:

          No, I’ve just described the generally recognized definition of “Metroidvania” See link to en.wikipedia.org. You didn’t answer my question – when did the things you list become part of that definition? The answer is they didn’t.

          • PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

            Who….CARES!?!

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            Obviously, at least two people: the one who’s wrong, and the one that knows he’s wrong.

          • internisus says:

            “Metroidvania” has always meant RPG elements because the “vania” part of the word comes from Castlevania and refers to the additions that Symphony of the Night made to the Metroid structure. If you aren’t talking about a game that has those elements, then it doesn’t make sense to use this term.

            “generally recognized definition”? A link to Wikipedia? My whole point is that most people use it incorrectly, as in this review, which is why I called it out to begin with. I’m arguing for what the term should mean—how we should use it. Just because people have thoughtlessly thrown it at everything that has a Metroid-like structure to the point where it’s become meaningless doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. It’s a useful word for distinguishing between two subgenres, so long as we let it.

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            Ok, if the short article at Wikipedia doesn’t do it for you, how about the more in-depth article at the Encyclopedia Gamia? link to gaming.wikia.com

            The RPG aspects are an additional consideration to a Metroidvania, not a core aspect of it (see the Game Elements section of the above article).

            Regardless, mechavolt points out below that Ori does in fact have leveling in it. Why are we arguing again?

          • internisus says:

            Stop appealing to other authorities instead of engaging my argument.

            “The RPG aspects are an additional consideration to a Metroidvania, not a core aspect of it (see the Game Elements section of the above article).”

            No, the RPG aspects are the addition to the core structure of a Metroid-like game that turns a Metroid-like game into a Metroidvania. If you’re talking about something similar to Metroid but lacking what made middle-era Castlevania different from Metroid, then why would you say “vania”? All Metroidvanias are Metroid-like, but not all Metroid-like games are Metroidvanias.

            The Encyclopedia Gamia entry you just linked to says: “Metroidvanias typically take the Metroid formula a step further, allowing the player to gain levels and advance their character’s statistics through the defeat of enemies in a manner most commonly found in a console rpg. This was introduced in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and all subsequent 2D Castlevania games have followed this trend until the WiiWare release Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth.”

            It therefore acknowledges the distinction between Metroid-style games prior to Symphony and Metroidvanias that make use of these RPG elements. But then it goes on the drop that distinction and use “Metroidvania” to retroactively refer to all Metroid-like games, including those older than Symphony. It’s sloppy; this is a careless use of terminology.

            You only seem to respect links, so here are some examples of other people making the same objection that I am:

            “Why ‘Metroidvania’ Is Not a Thing” link to noiselesschatter.com

            “Metroid and Metroidvania are not the same thing” link to neogaf.com

            “Metroid style vs Metroidvania style” link to gamefaqs.com

            “Metroid….-vania?” link to escapistmagazine.com

      • mechavolt says:

        Ori has levelling up and skills. You get experience orbs from killing enemies and finding secrets, which will let you level up and improve your abilities.

        • internisus says:

          That’s debatable. The upgrade points are limited collectables, much like HP upgrades. It’s true that you choose what you spend them on first, but that’s a far cry from gaining experience from fighting enemies or swapping equipment for different strength or luck stats.

  3. ProverbsofHell says:

    To be quite honest this game has arrived YEARS too late. The market is completely over-saturated with 2D platformers, and at this point, no matter how pretty the artwork, the genre completely kills any interest in the game for me. It’s really a shame, I would have adored this back in the Knytt era.

    • theapeofnaples says:

      Weird comment.

    • Riaktion says:

      Very Weird Comment

    • UncleLou says:

      I can’t disgree, it really is a pretty weird comment.

    • CameO73 says:

      I disagree. I’m still waiting on the next Rayman game (don’t talk to me about the latest mobile crap … I’m still not over it). This Definitive Edition is right up my alley. I totally agree with John: it has become a better game!

    • Beefenstein says:

      Just because I’m tired of meeting people doesn’t mean I endorse genocide.

    • ProverbsofHell says:

      There’s really nothing weird about it. The genre is stale. Once you’ve played Spelunky, Rayman, Fez, Shank, Braid, Limbo, Guacamelee, Knytt, Super Meat Boy, Shovel Knight, Rogue Legacy, Trine, Terraria, Cave Story, VVVVVV, La-Mulana, Dustforce, Thomas Was Alone and countless others not worth mentioning, maybe you’ll feel the same.

      • Urthman says:

        That is a weird list. I haven’t played all those, but I feel very little overlap in the kinds of gaming experiences that Spelunky, Fez, Braid, Limbo, Trine, Terraria, VVVVVV, Guacamelee, and Dustforce have to offer.

        Maybe Guacamelee might be similar enough to dampen your enthusiasm for Ori? But I can’t see how any of those others would unless you’re just tired of games in general.

  4. c-Row says:

    One of the few games I regret not having a PS4 release. My girlfriend isn’t that much into videogames but like Rayman I am sure this would be a game she would enjoy watching me play.

  5. Laurentius says:

    Inded, Ori De is great game. Story is meh but it so fun to play.
    Normal now is pretty much like old game, mini boss fights get easier for some reason, which is wierd as they were never moderately hard to begin with.
    But I can belive one big omission in this review: it is modern platformer game that is playable on keyboard, it’s eneormous huge deal for me, as I don’t own gamepad, nor do I know how to use one.

    • bill says:

      Push left to go left. Push right to go right. Push up to go up/jump. Push down to go down/duck. Push buttons to do actions.
      Imagine it’s a keyboard and you’ll be fine.

  6. KenTWOu says:

    (and in May, it’s only £3.75 to update your version on Steam)

    Devs said the discount won’t end in May and will remain forever.

    link to steamcommunity.com

  7. draglikepull says:

    It’s a stunning-looking game and in general it’s a lot of fun, but if you’re jumping into this for the first time, be prepared to be INFURIATED by the boss fight/escape sequences.

    • Beefenstein says:

      Escaping the water tree was a source of anger. But I, being over 30 years old managed to master my raise. “If you cannot master your rage–”

      “–then rage will become your master? That’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it?”

      “… Not necessarily.”

    • Ragnar says:

      The first one was frustrating, as rubber banding meant that aceing the first sections didn’t help in the later parts, but I got it before too long, and it made me feel like a badass. When I had to repeat it due to reloading a save, I got it on the first try.

      The second one was infuriating. So many sections demanded perfection, the particle effects would often obscure where you’re supposed to go next. Even the twentieth attempt could result in death in one if the early sections. At one point I had to look up a video because I couldn’t figure out what to do next. When I finally finished it I just felt relief that it was over.

  8. Kirudub says:

    ^^ Agreed, I stopped playing the first one at the 1st sequence where you need to escape upward. I’m 45 and have limited amount of time every night to play a game, and after a while I just put it aside to relieve my cramped hands and moved on to other games that don’t demand your blood to get through to the next frame. I got tired of that back in the 80’s.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      I think I ended up stopping at the exact same point.It was such an enjoyable experience up until that point that was shattered by my frustration.

    • John Walker says:

      I got properly furious with that section last year, but eventually defeated it.

      This time when I got there I felt worried, but I beat it first time. So I don’t know if I’ve become more magnificent over the last year, or if they’ve appropriately nerfed it. It’s probably the magnificent thing.

      • Ragnar says:

        After defeating it after many attempts, then having to reload a previous save, I was able to clear it on my first try the second time around. It’s a section that’s frustrating but rewards mastery.

        The second section, on the other hand, was just as infuriating on the fiftieth time through. I hope they toned it down a bit in this release.

      • Laurentius says:

        This is problem in game design. This section is hard but not that hard, so it may seem like a hardest part of the game but when you have completed game under your belt and came back to it, it rarly neds more then a couple of tries. It’s this huge roadblock after rather smooth begining of the game when playing for the first time. It is basicly a time trial not a gimicky finger/eye coordiantion marathon it seems. But in racing game, you are expected to have poor time on first try and to master it, it takes a bit of time. This section could really use visual cues, something like ghost car or ghost in Miror’s Edg, time trials.

  9. Jovian09 says:

    I was legitimately surprised reading the comments on last year’s Ori review and seeing the fear level people had about the game’s difficulty. I’m not a masochist or anything, but to me the challenge was perfect, testing skill without feeling unfair, and the escape sequences are some of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done in a game. I don’t often fist-pump AND scream “YES!!!” at anything, but Ori made me do it several times.

    I’d urge people thinking of going for the Definitive Edition not to be put off by the difficulty. Ori is an immensely rewarding game I think everyone should play, as much for its gorgeous design as for its top-notch platforming.

    • Ragnar says:

      I agree for the most part. I think I’m pretty bad at platformers, and I found the difficulty to be just right throughout most of the game. It felt challenging without being frustrating.

      The escape sequences were the exception.

      The first one was frustrating, but I got it just as I was reaching the “screw this” point, and it felt exhilarating when I beat it.

      The second one was infuriating. Many sections required perfection and punished any deviation with death. There were so many particle effects that I often couldn’t figure out where to go and what to do upon reaching a new section, thus dying and having to repeat the punishing early sections. I really hope that section was addressed in the remake.

  10. c0b4ltl1ghtn1ng says:

    I might be a bit late, but you forgot to add on the little discount for the owners of the original title. Chances are a lot of readers would already own that particular title.

    ‘s just my own pair of coins, though. Love the game, great debut for Moon Studios, can’t wait to see their next title.