Last year, my darkhorse choice for Game of the Year was Ori and the Blind Forest. I was blown away by the beauty of the game in just about every detail, from the background images to the character design and the outstanding soundtrack that came with the game. Moon Studios hit a home run with the title that caught everyone by surprise, especially when the indie title debuted on the marketplace for a measly $19.99. In the weeks and months that followed, while the game continued to gain praise, the players who enjoyed the title said that it might have been too easy. Well, Moon Studios heard you, and you've received your wish with a revamped title called Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition.
Being clear from the start, this is not a sequel to the first game. The storyline following Ori's quest to revitalize Nibel around him remains the same: An unknown force has turned the forest and the surrounding land into an evil place, killing the inhabitants and turning some of them into monsters. Ori is the key to turning the land back to what it was prior to the darkness. The difference between the original title and the Definitive Edition comes in the form of additions to the game and new zones. The new zones aren't completely necessary to finishing the game, but it is suggested as there are new abilities to unlock and backstory that wasn't previously known in the first game that surrounds Naru, the creature who found Ori and nursed him back to health at the beginning of the game.
The new zones, Black Root Burrows and Lost Grove, are a tribute to the idea that the game needed a bump up in difficulty. Going into either zone early on is almost a suicide run, given that the former is shrouded in darkness and shadows while both of them have what seems to be far more spikes and traps that can rip through Ori's health in a hurry. The new areas and the storylines they unlock provide the missing holes in the story that we all wanted to know about in the first run.
As mentioned before, the other addition that is notable is the change in difficulty. Moon Studios opted to add in a new Easy mode that allows a player to enjoy the story and get used to the game mechanics with far less of a challenge, which is a great addition for those who did not play the first game and are coming in fresh. Once again, I feel the need to remind you that you must be prepared for the saddest lead-in to a video game ever. It's even sadder than the opening of The Last of Us in my opinion, and that was a tearjerker as well.
For those who were complaining about wanting a new challenge, months and months ago I said to be careful what you wish for because you do not want to call out a developer unless you're ready for pain. The dialed up difficulty of Hard mode is exactly what you want in a new challenge: Enemies do more damage so there's less margin for error. This becomes especially painful in very specific areas, such as the Ginso Tree's frantic automatic scrolling challenge where time is absolutely of the essence. My first play through last year was bad enough on normal mode, given the frantic pace of the flood that fills the screen. You might get lucky with one error and are able to recover, but two? No chance. In hard mode, that one chance is now zero. A single mistake will cost you and you'll have to start over. The Ginso Tree is bad enough. Moving into the newer areas or later dungeon-style levels cause even more distress.
If you manage to get through Hard Mode, the developers still have a challenge for you, and that's "One Life" mode. It's all the fun of Hard Mode turned up to 11 and you have zero margin for error. Ori has one chance to get through. You still have save points and such, but the moment Ori bites the dust? Game over. Back to the beginning you go, all of your work up in smoke. There is no other way to put it: It's the ultimate challenge for any platformer. Personally, I couldn't get very far, but I'm happy to say that Ori lasted a whole twenty minutes before my stupidity turned him into pixie dust. I also didn't kill poor Ori nearly as much in the Definitive Edition as I did in the first game.
There really isn't much to talk about in regards to negativity for Ori's second adventure. If anything, while the Definitive Edition does bring us two new zones that are difficult enough to keep up with the theme of making the game more challenging, there isn't much else to talk about in terms of new content. The new zones are great and beautiful, but Ori has only received a couple of new abilities and it's very easy to forget about getting them if you don't find the new zones early on. I will not say anything bad about the animation, artwork or music however. Plain and simple, the game is still as beautiful as ever and maybe even received a few touch ups. I'd be hard pressed to find a game that looks as good as Ori's world is.
Bringing it all together, fans of the game's first title will want to jump in to enjoy a great challenge and new zones will reliving their first experience all over again. There are a couple of new abilities that are very useful but, outside of that, it's still the same title that wants to fill in the holes of the story that we missed before. Those who heard about the game or just discovered it without playing it before will definitely want to skip the first title and get the Definitive Edition as they will not be missing anything and getting the full story from the get-go. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is just as good as it's predecessor, if not better.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Sean is a 15 year veteran of gaming and technology writing with an unhealthy obsession for Final Fantasy, soccer, and chocolate.View Profile