A failed attempt with too much time to introspect about self and other trivialities.
Earlier this year I experienced the first iteration of the game by the name of Ori and The Blind Forest, which despite being five years old, has held well in setting itself apart in the world of metroidvania games as a unique concoction of visuals and platforming. My experience with this genre is limited to Ori and The Blind Forest and another game known as Hollow Knight, but these two games were enough to convey the true nature of a game that pertains to this specific genre. In my opinion an antithesis, these games captivate and draw the player in, with a blend of mystery and visuals, creating a desire within the player to play the game. I mentioned antithesis because in spite of the carefully packaged exterior, the games are very much a trap for the uninitiated, and once you find yourself in the game, escaping brings with it daunting trials. I am here today to talk about how the sequel to Ori and The Blind Forest managed to raise the bar and improve beyond expectation a game that was already a staple on its own.
Inheritance of the Past
I was familiar with Ori and The Blind Forest and its story through witnessing it be played by a certain youtuber many years ago, but in my opinion watching and playing are two distinct things, as watching it just enticed my appetite further into eventually playing it myself. As if decided by destiny, I acquired the game through means that slip my mind at the moment, and I eventually got to experience it. Having such a huge gap between events, I had to get adjusted to the game and its intricacies, which turned my fingers into knots as I attempted to venture through the world. Possessing a style of its own, Ori and The Blind Forest proved to be a platforming challenge throughout, creating difficulty by means of mobility, which made it a memorable experience.
Having played the game so late after its initial release, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as, unbeknownst to me at the time was the fact that a sequel was about to be released around the same time I was going through the first game. I definitely wasn't planning on playing the sequel the same year it would be released, but due to the benevolence of people around me, I am happy to say I have, and the experience was the spitting image of progression.
Under the name, Ori and the Will of The Wisps, the new game brought me back where I had left off just a few months back, in order to pursue a new adventure filled with new colors, challenges, enemies and ultimately, unmatched agony. Despite the profoundly mixed feelings I might have towards the series as a whole, the sequel left me with a sense of progression unmatched to this day, and I wish to share why I feel like the sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest is the definition of improvement.
Nurtured with Experience
The developers over at Moon Studios took everything that was positive about the first game and used its flawless foundation in order to create the sequel, giving life to a story that took everything that made the first game unique and improved upon it. The experience collected from the popularity of the first game was used to fuel the new game to life while still maintaining a tangible sense of originality. As a disclaimer, I definitely do not wish to calumniate the first game as being inferior in any way, shape or form when compared to the sequel as I am fully aware that without its success, the second game wouldn't have turned out so well.
I imagine that after the acclaim of the first game, the developers might have been under pressure to create a game that wouldn't fall flat compared to its prequel. Research was possibly thorough and new perspectives needed to be taken into consideration, be it from players or the developers themselves, doing everything possible to bring to life a masterpiece and not a copy. It is palpable that the work put in yielded positive results as my experience was inundated with emotions that screamed improvement. Aside from the sensation of nostalgia, I was happy to feel that the game at my fingers felt the same, with everything that was added to complement and not disturb the memories I had of the first iteration. I have only respect for the work the developers have managed to put into this game, giving players the chance to continue a story that felt continued and not repeated.
Growth from Knowledge
If I try to remember, the first game had many issues that made me salty beyond compare, and they were spread throughout the game, most of them being tied to the platforming and it being relatively forced into everything. The system of the game had restraints such as a save system based on the discovery of certain spots that were spread across the map quite sporadically. Other drawbacks were the dependency on a certain energy that was collected from killing enemies or by finding it through exploration, this energy helping the character grow to reach higher levels, allowing for more or stronger abilities.
Despite everything being in complete cooperation, having played the second game, I immediately realized that the changes from the first to the second were just better. One of the biggest changes that I fully enjoyed was the capacity to become self reliant in combat, being armed with various options as weaponry, fact which I embraced tremendously fast. Together with the new combat system, came something that I recall glimpsing in a trailer once, and let me tell you that it completely changed the whole dynamic of the game. Having to deal with bosses in the first game was tedious beyond measure, and I recall spending a vexing amount of time trying to run the literal obstacle course that was supposed to be a boss fight. This is where the second game improved the most in my opinion, giving the player the chance to face the enemy boss head-on instead of simply running away constantly. It is understandable that the first game had certain circumstances it needed to abide by, but ultimately, the second game kept what made the first original and added something that simply made the game complete.
The story was also improved upon, and made lengthier with a subtle introduction that presented the newly discovered world, its inhabitants and everything that I knew and loved about the first game.Colors evoked the same feeling of a painting in motion, with each area of the map possessing its own set of nuances, differentiating themselves in the same way the first had managed to portray the parts of the world within it. Small changes to how the map was displayed were combined with the ways of the old game, coming together homogeneously. To complement the beautifully drawn world that surrounded the character, the cherry on top that made the environment ultimately irreproachable was the soundtrack. The sounds given to each area would embrace the emotion of that specific area perfectly, my personal favorite being that from the Silent Woods, where the feeling of sadness and sorrow had managed to nestle and reign supreme.
Something that gave more flavor to the topic of world exploration were the characters you would find spread across the map, characters that introduced me to the subject of quests. These were quite a few in number, some of them requiring quite some thought put into them, making them actually difficult to solve but the rewards were often worthwhile. The characters contained were a mix of important characters that would help you by offering their assistance with upgrades, maps and other objects that would ultimately aid you in traversing the world with less headaches. Every character had flair, regardless of who it was, be it story crucial or just a random denizen of the land who wanted a certain something that you would have to somehow discover on your own. I definitely was annoyed by some of the requests, but I was happy that after finishing the game there was still something to do in the world aside from the main quest.
I fully enjoyed having a place to call home, with friends and a family in the making as the game grew bigger before my eyes as the characters I met along the way would be found in my newfound home. That feeling of being alone against the world was dimmed drastically with the introduction of the cast of characters. Many of them even reminded me of characters from other games in the same genre, but I will leave my suspicions for another time, but if you have felt the same, I wonder who came to mind for you. Aside from the pacifistic type characters, I was absolutely blown away by the evil ones, and by that I mean the bosses.
The idea of boss in the prequel was okay but ultimately turned out dull in comparison to the sequel as we had more than just one boss, plus all of them looked amazing in the sense of design. For a game franchise that hadn't properly touched on the subject of boss fights, the change of this scenario, from the first to the second was nothing but a joy to experience. With the exception of the last battle which I would call tedious, somewhat unfair and confusing, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every boss encounter I have had throughout the game. The bosses themselves were really well fleshed out as opponents, keeping me always on my toes through their plethora of attacks and tricks. I usually complain about boss fights being unfair but I have to admit, I enjoyed the boss fights more than I ever thought I would, simply because I didn't expect them to be so engaging and well designed for a game that never advertised itself as a game centered around combat.
Last thing I want to touch upon would be the narrative, which for this franchise was and is the driving force the coalesces everything into a neatly packaged title. On the surface, it is very much a repeat of the first game when it comes to story as essentially you have to attempt a similar task of completing specific objectives by traversing the map and visiting each area. That is where similarities end though, as everything is obviously made to be as unique as possible, to the point where you would call this a new game with a fresh story. The introduction is heartwarming, but everything grasps traction very soon as you get thrown into the action quite fast after the initial scenes. In spite of being a relatively quick start, it managed to ease me in quite smoothly, reminding me of what this world meant when it came to the dangers present around me. There is a good balance when it comes to the pace of the story and the stages you go through when it comes to the challenges you are put against, everything feeling acceptable and not rushed, be it in the form of plot-holes or steep changes in difficulty. All the way through, I enjoyed the story since it made complete sense, and it managed to engage me from the start, pushing me to move forward despite any difficulty I might have encountered. Reaching the end scene after the last boss battle, I was absolutely amazed of how the developers managed to come up with a perfect ending, sealing the story of the main character in the best way I never imagined possible. I was totally satisfied with it, asking nothing more from this game after I also finished all the side-quests available as well.
Roots to Remember
My experience with this game was an amalgamation of joy, anger and ultimately, satisfaction. I don't think I would change anything, despite how I may have felt during gameplay, since we all say unwanted things when pushed to certain limits. I hope you will experience it yourself if you have the chance, and get to see for yourself what I have been rambling about this whole time. I think I will be ending this speech here, hoping that I have somewhat piqued your interest about this game and of course the first one, in order to fully understand what I have been talking about. I will be signing off and until next time, you know where to find me.
© 2020 Bogdan L