When I was a kid, I played platform games all the time.
For the uninformed, platformers are games in which you typically need to jump to and run around on, well, platforms. They require good reflexes and hand-eye coordination to master.
When I first started gaming, I was too young to enjoy violent shooters or complex role-playing games, so platformers were my go-to genre. Franchises such as “Super Mario Bros.,” “Donkey Kong Country,” “Jak and Daxter” and “Ratchet & Clank” immediately come to mind.
As I grew older, my draw to platforming games waned. I lost no love for them, but excellent games from numerous other genres stole my attention.
Until, that is, I played through “Ori and the Blind Forest” over the weekend.
“Ori” is a two-dimensional platformer. You play as titular character Ori, a small, rabbit-like creature that must restore light to a dying forest.
The most attention-grabbing part of “Ori and the Blind Forest” is its amazing visuals. Colors glow and pop, and backgrounds have a painting-esque quality that gives the entire game a dreamy vibe.
But it didn’t take me long to realize the gameplay is just as impressive as the art. Ori controls wonderfully, which is essential in a platforming game. When you’re quickly running, jumping and bouncing off walls while avoiding traps and fighting enemies, it’s vital you don’t feel like you’re battling for control of your character.
What I especially loved about the platforming in “Ori” is how the game periodically introduces new mechanics that open new gameplay avenues. This allows for more difficult and satisfying platforming challenges.
For the first of couple hours, Ori climbed walls by constantly bouncing up them. I eventually unlocked a new power that allowed me to literally grab onto vertical walls and hang in place or climb up and down. This should have made the game easier—and it did, to an extent—but then the walls suddenly became more hazardous to climb. I had to use my new ability to its full extent just to get by them.
One of the game’s best abilities is to bounce off incoming ranged attacks and even enemies. After unlocking the ability, I could hold a button whenever an enemy’s projectile got close so I could bounce off it in the direction I chose or shoot the lethal goo back at foes. By chaining bounces together, I could reach new areas—leading to some fun platforming hijinks. It was a gratifying wrinkle in an already excellent platformer experience.
The whole game lasted only about six or seven hours, but after the credits rolled, I decided I hadn’t had enough. I actually took the time to explore earlier levels using my full arsenal of unlocked skills and abilities. I found, as expected, the developers had snuck in tons of secrets one could only reach by revisiting areas with certain powers. It was just as fun to explore the entire game and collect every secret as it was to beat the main story.
It had been a while since I touched a true platforming game, but “Ori and the Blind Forest” proves the genre is far from dead. Best of all is that a sequel, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps,” was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
If you’re looking for a fun, quick game that will test your platforming abilities and is simultaneously a visual treat, look no further than “Ori and the Blind Forest.” Like me, you might find a gem of a game you never expected.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.