Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition (Switch) Review
Ori and the Blind Forest on the Nintendo Switch is an absolute delight. With Microsoft’s beautiful adventure now on a Nintendo console, the Switch is certainly not lacking in incredible 2D exploration platformers. Including the likes of (but not limited to) Hollow Knight, Yoku’s Island Express, The Messenger, Iconoclasts, SteamWorld Dig 2 – the platform is a showcase of the very finest in level design, engrossing worlds, and immensely satisfying gameplay. Incredibly, Ori and the Blind Forest’s four years of age are completely invisible. Instead, it is now one of the genre’s very best due to not missing a beat on the Switch.
Set in the stunning forest of Nibel, Ori and the Blind Forest sees you assume the role of a spirit named Ori whose quest is to restore life to the rapidly decaying locale. In order to do this, you’ll travel Nibel to restore the elements to the forest while fighting dark creatures and navigating cleverly designed platforming sections. Following the conventions of the genre, this involves gaining new combat and movement abilities in order to access new areas and find plenty of hidden goodies along the way. Additionally, these abilities are uncovered at a satisfyingly brisk pace and can be further upgraded to augment their effects along the way.
What also helps maintain Ori and the Blind Forest’s strong pacing is its Soul Link system, which serves as a checkpoint and method of saving your game. Provided you have one active point in Spirit Energy, you can create a Soul Link in any non-combat area, where Ori will respawn upon death. It’s a great way to retry challenging sections repeatedly without delay. Very rarely will you be without Spirit Energy, a resource scattered in abundance throughout Nibel.
The most striking component of Ori and the Blind Forest is its jaw-dropping art design. Losing none of its gloss in the transition to Switch, every one of its visual elements is so wonderfully and meticulously crafted. Ori and the Blind Forest features such lush and vibrant environments with an ethereal fairytale-like quality. While a 2D game this is, its graphical depth does everything to make it feel anything but. An enormous level of attention to detail is everpresent in each environment’s foregrounds and backgrounds. Particularly regarding the former, seeing various foliage and environmental details just out-of-focus in the foreground is such a neat technique in adding depth, giving you the impression of a lens through the trees closely following Ori’s movements. It’s also brilliant at raising tension when ominous creatures spy on you from afar prior to potential conflict. Pretty colours and my excitement over composition aside, if the included screenshots don’t convince you of Ori and the Blind Forest’s beauty, nothing will.
Beyond Ori and the Blind Forest’s visuals, its breezy animation completely seals the deal. Everything moves with such fluency, including the highly emotive creatures you encounter. In fact, its expressive animation is largely why Ori and the Blind Forest closely rivals the film Up in the stakes of family-friendly media most likely to make you cry within the first 10 minutes. Gareth Coker’s richly orchestrated soundtrack only adds to the narrative beats throughout, knowing when to go big and when to play it understated. There are some truly stirring moments due to the strong marriage of audiovisual elements delicately woven throughout Ori’s adventure.
From docked to handheld, Ori and the Blind Forest runs brilliantly. In fact, the only issues I encountered were sporadic enough to overlook entirely. One bizarre glitch was on my first attempt at playing, where after the prologue’s opening scene concluded, no controller inputs other than pause worked. However, after a restart, I haven’t encountered the controller input issue since. The only other mild blip in Ori and the Blind Forest’s performance is the occasional slight delay in the camera following Ori’s movements when quickly dashing from one end of the screen to the other. I imagine this is because the Switch sometimes needs a tiny bit of extra time to render and load detailed areas. Again, these couple of things don’t diminish what is an otherwise fantastic experience.
Ori and the Blind Forest remains delightful on Switch in 2019 with a near-flawless port of one of the most beautiful games made in recent years. Playing this in handheld is an absolute treat.
+ Awe-inspiring art design
+ Wonderfully composed soundtrack
+ Satisfying exploration and progression
- Ever-so-slight rendering times when moving quickly across the screen