Ori And The Blind Forest is a neat little metroidvania with a really nice visual style. Some of its systems are quite interesting and I had a good time playing it, even if it ultimately ended in frustration towards the way this game checkpoints your progress. With RPG mechanics, exploration and some good skill-based platforming, this could have been an amazing game, but it sadly just came up short to that.

Following the tradition of metroidvanias, you are wandering various maps trying to complete different objectives, unlocking new abilities - to go explore the maps you had previously explored - fighting enemies - using a really cool fireball spitting companion that just requires you to click in order to attack - and leveling up. You sometimes fight bosses, solve puzzles and do some platforming, there are hidden areas with powerups - either increasing your life, magic power or experience - and there's a neat story that goes with all of this.

I find the saving system quite frustrating, the way it works is that you manually create save points in 'safe' spots by spending magic power, and then you save there. First of all, this magic power resource is so abundant, it's almost a non-issue, so it's not like the ink ribbons in the first resident evil where you really had to think about when and where to save; Second of all, for me it just created frustrating situations where I hadn't saved in a while and then died. Did some tough platforming, got a power-up and then died. You just have to redo everything, and it's not fun. Completing a challenge to get a bonus is great, having to do it another time because the first one "didn't count" isn't.

The skill tree is neat, you get experience from killing enemies and in destructible containers, and you use that in order to learn new skills in different branches. Ultimately, you unlock things like a third jump, which is a bit weird to have exploration abilities linked to grinding, but that's not the worst thing ever. The skills themselves are okay, but it's a bit annoying when all your choices aren't interesting and you still need to learn them in order to progress in the tree. At least fighting your enemies is quite straightforward, you can move around while shooting at them independently of your movement. This is where the visual style hurts the game a little, though, because I feel that it gets tough to see where enemies are and where their projectiles are in the middle of a battle, so you'll get hurt.

Speaking of which, the difficulty of the game is quite brutal and feels strangely uneven. You have a health bar, but so little in lieu of invincibility frames that you'll get hit over and over without noticing it, if you're not careful. Some obstacles will deal more than one pip of health, so you have to learn about those too. At least if the spikes were instant-death, some of the challenges would have been clear - i.e. you can't do this right now - but I spent a long while on some spike pit platforming segments, just damage boosting through as the spikes dealt so much damage that I really couldn't come back, wondering if the puzzle was actually even possible.

OATBF is still a pretty neat game and I'd recommend it to fans of metroidvanias and other RPG platformers. I found it a bit too difficult for me - with a weird saving system that I wouldn't want replicated in any other game - but overall I still had a good time.

AuthorJérémie Tessier