ori and the blind forest

[Review] Ori and the Blind Forest

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Platforms: Xbox One, PC
We Played On: Xbox One

There’s a rule among most video game developers: If the game doesn’t pique your interest in the first 10 minutes then you’re not likely to keep playing it. Ori and the Blind Forest doesn’t break this rule. In fact, the first 10 minutes of the game are so fantastic, I can’t imagine anyone would stop playing. Luckily, the rest of the game delivers on the promise of the beginning and makes for a fantastic experience on par with some of the old Legend of Zelda games. And at $19.99, Ori and Blind Forest costs a third of what bigger traditional retail games cost.

ori and the blind forest

Ori starts the game as a leaf that breaks free from the spirit tree and falls to Earth, where he takes the form of spirit animal.

The Story

Ori begins life as a leaf that is blown off the large spirit tree during a massive storm. When he finally settles he takes the form of a small spirit. An ape-like creature named Naru sees him fall to Earth and adopts him as her own child. Naru and Ori are a happy family until a cataclysmic event “blinds” the forest, drying up the trees that produced the fruit the two eat. Without the fruit, Naru weakens. Ori travels out into the forest to find the last pieces of fruit and returns to find that Naru has died. Without her, he’s forced to traverse the forest on his own. Ori is weak and helpless until he meets up with Sein, another spirit who helps him on his journey to restore light to the forest.

The Gameplay

Ori and the Blind Forest is played in 2D, meaning you move the character left and right rather than through 3D space. Once Ori meets up with Sein, he gains the ability to launch beams of energy at enemies. The gameplay then involves dispatching enemies and traversing a variety of environments by jumping and avoiding obstacles.

ori and the blind forest

The gameplay involves traversing a variety of environments, all of which are beautifully drawn.

Throughout the game, Ori will find small spirit trees that give him special abilities. More abilities can be unlocked by collecting orbs that enemies drop when killed. Collecting enough of these orbs results in a skill point. Earning a skill point opens up the ability tree with three paths of options, where players can spend their points however they choose. For example, one skill makes the orbs come to Ori from a greater distance, while another might give him more health. This makes the game feel slightly like a role-playing game, but the majority of the gameplay is still platforming.

ori and the blind forest ability tree

Players can spend skill points in the ability tree to help them in future gameplay.

Though its beautiful art style and cute characters may make it seem like Ori and the Blind Forest is accessible to anyone, the game increases in difficulty pretty quickly. Many of the obstacles Ori comes up against require precise timing and mastery of his skills. I found myself needing to try some gameplay sequences many times before finally getting past them. Another element that may be frustrating to new players is that game does not autosave. That means players must consciously choose to stop and save or else lose a lot of progress.

The ESRB Rating

The ESRB rates Ori and the Blind Forest as E with a content descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence. Ori uses energy beams to dispatch a variety of fantastical creatures, but the art is stylized and no blood of any type is shown.

ori and the blind forest

The relationship between Naru and Ori is heartwarming.

A Lot of Heart

The connection I felt to Ori and Naru was much more pronounced than in many games. Platformers typically include cookie-cutter characters. Ori and the Blind Forest is different. The beginning scenes really made me smile. I immediately related to Naru as she cuddled Ori or playfully tossed him into the air. Seeing them together as mother and child brought my own experience of being a mom to the forefront. It’s perhaps for this reason that Naru’s death felt heartbreaking to me. Even though Naru is around only during the first minutes of the game, I formed an emotional connection to her that made me want to see her adopted child succeed in his quest.

Takeaway

Ori and the Blind Forest is a game that packs a big emotional punch. Because some mastery of platforming skills is required, it may be difficult for new gamers to play. But the game is so beautiful that watching it is enjoyable as well. Its vast world and hours of gameplay make it a great value at a relatively low price. I highly recommend it to young and old players alike.

Majora's Mask 3D

[Review] Majora’s Mask 3D

Posted by | Reviews | 2 Comments

Platforms: Nintendo New 3DSXL, 3DSXL, 3DS, 2DS
We Played On: 
3DSXL

Like all Zelda games, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D for the Nintendo 3DS is an action-adventure puzzle game with fantasy elements. But Majora’s Mask is something special. For one, it’s an intensely emotional game. Its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, tells a heroic saga of good versus evil; in Majora’s Mask, the enemies are less clear. Link, the protagonist, spends most of his time helping the people around him, who have detailed stories, personalities, and problems.

I am in love with this game. Majora’s Mask 3D is crammed full of excellent conversation starters about friendship, grief, failure, and love. For Zelda fans, I consider it required reading.

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wii u

4 Reasons to Buy a Wii U This Holiday

Posted by | News, Opinion, Tips for Parents | 2 Comments

When the Wii U first launched two years ago, no one was sure what to make of it. Lots of people thought it was simply an expansion to the Wii. The Wii U’s high-definition graphics were viewed by many as Nintendo merely catching up to Sony and Microsoft’s previous generation. Sales were much lower than expected, and the grumbling about Nintendo’s entire future began in earnest—and continues to this day.

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Everything Parents Need to Know About Nintendo's Amiibo Toys

Posted by | Tips for Parents | 11 Comments

If your kids are enraptured by Skylanders or Disney Infinity—and/or are huge fans of everything Nintendo—then you may be eyeing a new set of interactive figurines as stocking stuffers this holiday season.

Amiibo is Nintendo’s answer to the immense popularity of those other games, but unlike those toy-centric forebears, the figurines of iconic characters like Mario, Link, and Peach aren’t tied to a single game or series. Furthermore, while they may look similar on the surface, the Amiibo figures aren’t currently used to bring playable characters into games. In Skylanders and Disney Infinity, you pop a figurine on the portal and that character appears in the game and is fully playable. With Amiibo, the experience is a little different, giving you access to bonus content and extra computer-controlled characters, rather than playable ones. Read More