|System: PC, Xbox One*|
|Dev: Moon Studios|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: March 11, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The game provides a light RPG element through a three-branched skill tree with purchasable upgrades. Attacks can be enhanced, health recovery can be bolstered, and the map can be updated with the locations of collectables. Each upgrade provides a noticeable improvement in the gameplay. The system is fairly linear, with the ability to unlock the entire tree in a single playthrough, eliminating any value of replayability for the possibility of a different character composition. You can, however, replay to improve your spot on the leaderboard, which tracks completion time, completion percentage, and the total number of deaths.
You may find yourself replaying Ori and the Blind Forest several times just to bask in its picturesque visuals. Enough cannot be said about how gorgeous this game is. It dabs into every part of the color spectrum. From the lifeless grays and browns to the blooming greens and blues, the artwork takes on a journey of its own, only adding to the emotional attachment. Everything moves with grace, showcasing deft skill with animation. It defies photorealism as the be-all and end-all of graphical achievement, presenting the most stunning display at least these eyes have ever beheld.
The musical score is impressively stunning, hitting all the right notes in all the right spots. The music flows with the story, with a softly played piano moistening the tear ducts during the tragic prologue, woodwinds chiming in as life springs back, and intense allegros of violins and percussion during high-action sequences. The somber, Huttese-like narration from the Spirit Tree provides a verbal account of Ori's important accomplishments. Ori himself is limited to chirps and squeals, but alongside the music they are more than effective in displaying his current emotional state.
Ori and the Blind Forest is the first fully realized endeavor from developer Moon Studios. With pristine quality in every facet of the game, it is a monumental premier that will hopefully be well-received by all and provide the financial support for the company to create more fantastic games. Microsoft deserves high marks for partnering with this independent developer, a relationship we can only hope gets nurtured moving forward. This gem of a title will captivate your heart and test your skill, providing a soul-inspiring experience that will remain long after the game has been put down.
Date: March 10, 2015