Well, I finished Ori and the Blind Forest, so here's my thoughts on it. Hopefully I didn't spoil anything.
The soundtrack was absolutely flawless, as were almost all the sound effects. Just one platform that travels upwards made a sound that sounded blown on my headphones, I think because they mixed the bass incorrectly. If that's the only complaint I have, you bet that means the rest was entirely perfect. The mood was enhanced very well by the soundtrack, and the credits music just wouldn't relent in epicness.
The visuals were likewise near perfection. I noticed that there are a couple instances of foreground items such as trees being too close to the camera, making the textures blurry. When everything else is so clear, it's a bit jarring. Also, too many deadly obstacles were indistinguishable from the regular floor, which was exasperating.
The gameplay made me miserable. Likely it's just because I'm not a fan of platformers and I absolutely stink at playing them, not to mention that I played the game with the keyboard instead of something with linear input for movement. Too many times Ori oversteered, or my fingers couldn't react quickly enough, or I hit the wrong key to move, or any number of other errors that I never make with something like a joystick. The controls, to me, felt clunky and unresponsive. The tenth-second lag was not the game though; it's my keyboard, as I experience it in everything, including typing. I also think many of the levels were contrived just to be tough, and made very little sense in the big picture of how the game world was. It's hard to say what I mean, but basically I feel like a couple of puzzles didn't match the scenery and were clearly just tripping blocks. I have not played enough platformers to be certain, but I'll assume that this goes for most games of the genre. I'd also like to point out that a couple choices in Ori's movement seem silly - if you initiate an attack that takes a second to wind up, you cannot control Ori during that time, but you can still be killed. I'd have made Ori invincible during unstoppable animations like that, and I know there are some games that do, such as TT Games's many LEGO games. Anyway, I just felt myself rather bored in some sections, trying repeatedly to bounce around levels and dying dozens of times, getting impatient to just move on and get to the next bit of story. Presumably, the appeal of platformers is this very tediousness as you study the problem and set up your sequence of movements, finally pulling it off and getting a big rush of satisfaction from finally defeating the obstacle. That makes sense, and I won't knock people who like that sort of gameplay, but I prefer it in puzzle games.
I encountered no bugs in coding, as far as I can tell. A couple times I seemed to get stuck on the floor, but I'll put that down to the fact it was always in a sharply angled crevice type place, and I was always able to get out by jumping.
I played the game for the story, and I wasn't much disappointed. What bothered me was that the twists were entirely predictable and a little cliche, and I felt like the game spent more time jumping around ridiculous obstructions than actually telling a story. To be sure, the world was none the less for the intricate level design, apart from a couple immersion-bustingly odd bits, but it's really hard to care about the story when you're busy dying nine times per minute. It didn't help that I took several months' break from the game and had forgotten the story up to the point I was at (though I hadn't forgotten that cussed Ginso tree.) Here's more detailed thoughts on the story for those who have played the game.
Everyone vaunts the emotional impact of the story. However, either because I'm a cold-hearted piece of granite or I tend to distance myself from games and analyze them objectively in order to make my own better, I wasn't much affected. Naru dies? Cool, doesn't surprise me. Makes for good story stuff, I guess, since it makes you mad at what brought on the blight to the land. Big owl thingy was just acting to protect her child? I'm not sure why, but it felt like I knew that already. Something in the ferocity with which she pursued Ori gave away that she had an extremely personal grudge. I'd guessed it had to do with family, since that's generally what gets people most upset.
Then of course, there's the giant payoff at the end. To be completely honest, I think the trailer for Ori and the Will of the Wisps spoiled that one just a little. I'd guessed that the Big Owl would do something touching and kind in the end,
since that would match the level of hype people have concerning the ending. It was just speculation on my part though, and that trailer confirmed it. Also, I'd guess that most people playing were totally shocked to see such a sacrifice,
or indeed any of the emotional story. On the outside, it's just a pretty platformer. I on the other hand went into the game knowing there was much tugging of heartstrings, and that likely diminished the effect for me.
Was the story good? I think so.
The self-sacrifice of the Big Owl to save her egg, and her deciding not to eviscerate Ori because she understands Naru's love for him is thought-provoking and emotional. Also there's always something intriguing in the idea that every creature, no matter how dark or evil, knows love and is affected and motivated by it. The problem here is that I've seen a number of games/movies exploring this concept, and it's unfortunately a little old to me.
Does the game have replay value? Yes, it sure does. There are multiple optional levels, several more difficulty settings (including a masochistic one-life setting), and there's always the urge to see whether you can get through a level better than last time. Will I replay it? Maybe once, in order to get a more coherent picture of the story, now that I can get through most of the levels without too much difficulty. The story's a bit fragmented in my mind.
Summary: Excellent visuals, sounds, and a rather good story, but gameplay that really didn't appeal to me as much as I'd have liked.
IronDuke Rating: Four of five stars.