My first few steps and jumps with Ori and the Blind Forest.
The moment I start the game and enter the menu screen for the first time I immediately stop and stare. There’s trees slowly moving in the wind, some mountains and a very large strange tree in the distance. Combine that image with a beautiful soundtrack and you’ve really got my attention. But as soon as you press to play the sky changes from a friendly light blue to a menacing darkness. A big vortex upsets the trees and sucks you towards the big tree in the distance and into a story.
You expect to sit through a small intro movie but quickly you notice you’re supposed to participate. Well… I think most people would, I didn’t. I just stared to the screen waiting for this friendly looking bear-thing to start doing stuff. When the message finally came across and I touched the keyboard I realized: this is one hell of a beautiful game. The animations are perfect and everything around you moves and breathes life. Turns out that this game is completely hand-painted. There’s supposed to be no reused tiles or anything (no, I’m not gonna check). Sometimes you hear people say games are works of art. Of course one can debate if Farmville or Leisure suit Larry fall into that category but I think people only need to play the intro of this game to agree with me that this is art.
After getting through a really emotional intro (yes, I can cut onions while I’m gaming) the actual gameplay starts. You take control of a white marsupilami and start out with a few jumps in this 2d platformer. It’s been a while since I last tried a platform game. I never came around to pick up the last Rayman even though I planned to. The game is good in gradually introducing your abilities and make each one necessary to reach the next part of the map. You start out with just 3 life orbs and the ability to jump but quickly you’ll receive spirit fire (a shooting attack) and a way to save your game.
Saving progress is different in this game. You get to decide when to make a save point and that can be anywhere you want just as long it’s not on top of that big aggressive rhino who wants your skin for a fluffy nose-horn warmer. But creating a save point costs resources and although I’ve hadn’t had problems so far I can really imagine it later on to be very important when and where you save. For now remembering to actually save is proving to be the hardest part of the game. When you die, and you will, you immediately spawn at your last save point. If you, like I did several times, forgot to save for the last 10 minutes you end up back in time and without all the stuff you collected.
Oh yeah, and about that dying: that happens… a lot…
As the game progresses and you get more abilities, the difficulty quickly ramps up and some really crazy jump puzzles start to appear. Imagine doing some crazy wall-jumping madness while being shot at by fat spiders or radioactive hedgehogs (really I didn’t make this shit up) and you die as quickly as a mayfly with an extreme ‘yolo’ attitude. After my first session of Ori and the Blind Forest, which lasted exactly 2 hours 7 minutes and 12 seconds I died 84 times. That’s 1.5 deaths per minute. Thank God this game doesn’t have loading screens (I’m looking at you Bloodborne).
I’m afraid those jumping puzzles will only get more extreme in later stages and my dpm will be far higher than that 1.5.