Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition Review

May 17, 2016

It wasn’t that long ago now that Phil Spencer opened an Xbox E3 press conference with Ori and the Blind Forest, a then completely unknown title from a completely unknown team. It was considered a brave move and a landmark moment – showing a game from a relatively passed over genre that isn’t full of explosions to open your conference? “You must be mad”, people would have said, but it wasn’t long before the internet blew up and Ori and the Blind Forest became one of the most anticipated titles of the year for many people. While there were a few frustrations here and there, including needing to traverse the entire map numerous times, Ori and the Blind Forest was a critical success winning multiple awards and gamer’s hearts. In an effort to expand the game, as well as incorporate player feedback, MOON Studios announced Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition, a version of the game with expanded content and gameplay updates to improve the user experience. After playing this newer version, which can be purchased at an upgrade price for current owners or as a separate game entirely, there is no doubt at all in my mind that this really is a better Ori and the Blind Forest.


One of the first things that people noticed about Ori and the Blind Forest were the absolutely gorgeous visuals that were on display. Ori and the Blind Forest is completely hand painted and hand animated, showing an attention to detail that other titles dream they could produce. This is no different in Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition and while I may have gone through all of these environments before, not once did I grow bored or stop staring in wonder. Additionally, the new area in this edition looks completely different to anything else seen in the game. Completely shrouded in darkness, you need to navigate  an environment that you cannot see while searching for the safety of tiny illuminated areas.

Gorgeous graphics are just one part of conveying a story, but in Ori they are coupled with music of the same calibre and an engaging plot. The music is nothing short of amazing, with soaring orchestral scores that range from high tempo dramatic pieces as you race against raging torrents of water to slower pieces as you watch cutscenes filled with emotion. The scores shifts and evolves to perfectly match the environment and situation that you are in, effectively enhancing the experience. I won’t delve too deeply into the story of Ori and the Blind Forest for fear of spoiling it, but I will say that it is one of the most emotionally moving stories I have seen in a game in a long time. Even experiencing it for the second time, I found myself close to tears at points, as well as overjoyed at others. MOON Studios managed to create a cast of characters that I quickly grew attached to, despite none of them ever saying a single word.


Ori and the Blind Forest was by no means an easy game when it came out, in fact it has some of the most difficult platforming I have experienced since torturing myself with Super Meat Boy some years ago. There are times where you will need to go from wall climbing, to flinging yourself using enemy projectiles, to triple jumping and then to shooting yourself off a wall. The controls are incredibly tight and precise, meaning the platforming never feels unfair or cheap (similar to the feelings evoked by the Dark Souls series), but it did lead to newer players likely facing some issues as they attempted to play. Combating this, MOON Studios have introduced a brand new easy difficulty setting, which drops the damage that enemies and the environment do to you. The result is a journey that inexperienced players are more comfortable working their way into and story focused players can more easily get to the next cutscene and reveal. I’m definitely of the mind that inclusiveness is excellent for gaming, so this move was a great one to make.

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Being a Metroidvania title, exploration is key in Ori and the Blind Forest, however given the large size of the map and the precise nature of the platforming involved it could sometimes become tedious to backtrack through areas as you gained new skills. Acknowledging the frustration that some players felt, MOON Studios have upgraded the spirit wells found within the game. Previously only used for healing and saving your game, these now function as warp points as well. Warp points are exactly what you think they are, fast travel points that allow you to quickly whizz across the map and save yourself a whole lot of time. While I personally didn’t use this much, I appreciate the extra option and have no doubt that completionists will love being able to get around the map faster in their quest for 100% completion.

While Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is just as beautiful as the original release, has incorporated the feedback of many past players and expanded the content on offer there is one negative that has failed to be addressed with this update: framerate drops. While Ori is beautiful, there is no reason that a 2D Metroidvania title should be dropping frames when running on a modern PC. It was an issue in the original release, and has continued on into the Definitive Edition. The framerate drops only tend to happen when you are fighting multiple enemies, as opposed to during standard platforming, but it’s frustrating to see the game suddenly drop frames.

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There aren’t many games that I have enjoyed as much as Ori and the Blind Forest in the past, and the changes made in Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition work to enhance the experience and remove some of the failings of the original release. While the framerate drops bring the experience back down slightly, they are the only negative in what is a truly amazing game.


Visuals are as beautiful as ever
Warp system is amazing for completionists
Easy mode is excellent for new players


Framerate drops still persist

Overall Score: