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    dkirschner's Ori and the Blind Forest (PC)

    [May 1, 2020 07:21:07 PM]
    Wow, worth the wait! I should mention, I'm in gaming heaven now, not only because I have more free time and the semester is almost over, but because Microsoft has a deal on their XBox Game Pass for PC (which is in beta). It's $1 for a month, and only $4.99 monthly after that. Holy crap. I went through the 200 games in the catalog and found 16 that are on my wishlist. 16 games for $1? Or $5.99 for two months? Or $11.99 if it takes me three months? YES PLEASE.

    Ori and the Blind Forest is the first thing I downloaded to play (sequel, coming soon!). I always remember the first time I heard the game's title. I was teaching Sociology of Disability, and I was talking to someone from an organization serving people who are visually impaired. I mentioned that I had students play video games about disability and she said, "Oh like Ori and the Blind Forest?" I was like, "noted, a game about something to do with blindness." I read about it soon thereafter in PC Gamer or somewhere and that is NOT what this game is about!

    Ori and the Blind Forest is a challenging 2d platformer about restoring a "blind" (dead) natural world. It's enchanting in a Studio Ghibli way. The presentation is immaculate in every way. It's claim to fame for me will be that I had fun hunting for extra power-ups. I usually hate doing that, but traversing the world was a blast. I spent my ability points in the exploration-type skill tree branch first, which is also unusual. It's because toward the end, experience you pick up is increased. I thought, "well if I can get that quickly, then I can unlock even more skills." Sure enough, I had two of three trees maxed out by the end and the other halfway there.

    The odd thing is you don't really need many of the abilities in the skill tree. They enhance damage, or give you extra life for creating a save point--all nice things--but the abilities you need are the ones you find in the world. Even then, I didn't unlock them all. I think I was missing something called "light burst" and something that would let me activate chains that lower barriers. I did notice a chunk of the world (one area maybe) that I didn't explore, so I'm sure something useful was down there.

    So the coolest ability by far lets you propel yourself off of enemies or projectiles in the air. You can use it to get into all sorts of nooks and crannies in the map. Say a spider shoots an energy orb at you. You jump and press triangle when you're near it. An arrow appears. Ori will fly in the direction of the arrow and the energy orb will fly in the direction opposite the arrow. This means you can redirect projectiles with the move too. All the movement abilities work in conjunction; the synergy is smooth. If you're trying to reach a height, you can use this arrow move to chain propel higher. Often, you will need to slow your fall after a boost while you wait for another projectile to be shot at you so you can propel off it. So, press LT and float with your leaf as you wait to be shot at.

    There is a variety of platforming on display. Some sections focus on killing enemies, some are "outrun the water/lava/wind," some are slow and thoughtful puzzles to traverse. By far the most impressive thing about some of these platforming segments are the "single-shot" ones. Like a long scene in a movie shot in one take, these see you going from the beginning of, say, a chase sequence (the final battle with the bird is the standout) to the end in one beautiful fluid performance. You will die in this game A LOT. Death in these sequences means you've learned something to go farther next time. "Okay, next time I need to float on the wind to the right and hide under this rock while the bird swoops past." Then you die 10 seconds after that on the next attempt. "Okay, hide under the rock, then I've got to quickly propel myself up the abyss on the plants; if I go too slow, the fire spreads and kills me. Just go fast, straight up!" Repeat 20 times to beat the encounter. I loved it.

    I hope my computer will run the sequel. A lot of these Microsoft developed or published games that I can play with Game Pass are newer (Ori and the Will of the Wisps was just a month or two ago!). I'm usually playing something a few years old, so it'll be weird to play new things...if I can run them. New computer? Hopefully not yet...but I'll have Game Pass games on hold for that time if the ole' Alienware isn't up to par any time soon.
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    dkirschner's Ori and the Blind Forest (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 29 April, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Friday 1 May, 2020

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Excellent game, beautiful visuals, great music and sound. Challenging puzzle platforming.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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