Monday, May 4, 2015

So cute even I can't find fault

Ori and the Blind Forest has met with significant critical acclaim. I think that this is strange because it really doesn't fit into its own genre very well. Ori is a beautiful side scrolling exploration based game with bare bones combat that clocks in around eight hours on the first play through. I have no problem with this, in fact I could play games like it all the time, I am just surprised that a rather cute looking game that is also balls hard in places could be almost universally loved.

Since I am a bastard, and since I do so enjoy being contrary, I will ignore the fact that this game was a breath of fresh air and find something to pick on. No need to repeat what better writers have said, suffice to say that if you have the means you should play this game.

Combat is almost always an afterthought in Ori. His (I was mistaken about Ori's gender last week, apologies) basic attack never really improves, has limited range, and is quickly replaced by a ground smash and vaulting off of enemies and their attacks to move around the level. This vaulting is very important to how the game works, so much so that killing enemies is usually not the right thing to do. Ori needs them to reach a platform or cross a pit.

Why then are the majority of the collectibles focused on abilities that make the combat easier or, worse yet, give Ori more health? Most environmental hazards are one hit deaths so more health doesn't help. Saving does require energy but refilling it is not difficult. It feels like Ori has most of the collectibles because other games of its type did so it felt compelled to include them even if the benefits made no sense. Exploration is the crux of this type of game but the reward needs to be worth the effort.

That's it. That's the best complaint that I can muster. Ori and the Blind Forest is an excellent game. I suppose it does chicken on, plot wise, towards the end, but the same can be said for most family friendly entertainment. There were no bad guys here. The whole game was a big misunderstanding. It could have benefited from a touch of tragedy. Think Brothers or the way Wall-E should have ended.

You know, Wall-E dying.

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