I have never really been one for platformers. I understand the draw, and I understand why they do have a modicum of popularity among gamers, but overall – this is not really my genre.
Maybe it’s because sometimes I’m a little horizontally challenged, or maybe it’s because I get really frustrated when I’m stuck in the same place with no obvious way forward in front of me. Whatever the reason is, it’s really a personal one, and more about the fact that I don’t like being not too great at things (and who does?)
However, last year, I decided that I would need to try Ori and the Blind Forest. It was soon after Will of the Wisps had come out, and after seeing the beautiful art and supreme hype around the game, I thought I might as well give it a try.
So, I picked up my controller with the biggest sigh you’ve ever heard, and loaded in.
I can be proven wrong
I had been told many times that I would enjoy this game. I am a stubborn person – if you say that to me, I will try my darndest to prove you wrong. I’m working on it, but this is the reality of who I am as a person.
I didn’t even get the chance to try and do that with Ori.
The game doesn’t let you dislike it. From the beginning, you’re thrown into a beautifully crafted world that leaves you wanting to know more about it. Ori and Naru are simply adorable – but oh boy, they start tugging on your heartstrings immediately.
I won’t give spoilers here, but trust, this game made me feel in a way very few have.
Then we have the gameplay – which was my biggest barrier to playing at all. In my opinion, it feels a little different from the usual style of platformers. It’s a lot more dynamic than what I’ve experienced, and instead of being a disruption in an already-set-up world, you feel like you’re actually a part of it. The incredible thing that it does is that the story unfolds as you play. Everything is intertwined – there isn’t something that seems oddly out of place, or there because you need to find a new ability. It’s intentional, and I think that’s why I could take the time to learn how to jump, sway and bounce through the levels.
And that’s the other thing – there isn’t a real set level design. You know you’re in different areas, and you know that there are things you have to gain in-game before you can explore the full area; But the way they set it up isn’t ‘here’s the next level, beat it’, instead, it’s a gentle nudge towards ‘explore and you’ll find more secrets’.
I like that. It makes me feel like I am making meaningful change in the world I play in – and as the player, this is a sublime way to make me feel like I am truly immersed.
Plus, having this feeling of immersion is an incredible feeling in a place as breathtaking as Nibel.
The typical comfort
Ori and the Blind Forest, and Will of the Wisps, are both typical comfort games in my opinion. They are an opportunity to sit on a couch on a cold day, with a blanket, some snacks and just escape into a reality that sits a little better than your own.
The special thing about the Ori games, though, is that they do this by subverting the expectations of a long-standing genre. If you haven’t played these games, I highly recommend them. They’re a spectacular look at how you can immerse yourself in something that feels familiar, even if you haven’t been there before. And isn’t that a true standing base for comfort?