Dan Smith, Producer at Microsoft Studios and Moon Studios Game Director Thomas Mahler took us behind-closed-doors for a special viewing of Ori and the Blind Forest. The game was first introduced during Microsoft's E3 press conference on June 9, 2014. During its announcement, this was a game that we needed to find out more about!
The gameplay footage starts with a windy time. As the seasons change, love between a mother-type figure and a smaller figure (whose relationship was confirmed to be just that) is displayed and begins to plant it's seed to prepare to grow deep into the core of the player. The baby, who is assumed to be Ori, returns to find that his mother is dead and thus begins his journey of a new life...alone.
Mahler explained that the art work is all hand-crafted paintings and the settings and environments come together in harmony to create a beautiful setting. Making use of hand-crafting paintings makes for some gorgeous settings that lend the opportunity of the aesthetics to set the tone for a feeling of solitude in a mysterious, yet stunning forest. This allows the player to step into the shoes of Ori, as he/she makes their way through the elements of the environment.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a Metroidvania-style game that "tutoratalizes" itself as the player progresses, allowing more mechanics and new abilities, including a wall jump, to open up to the player. The enemies are kind of puzzlated to beat. Enemies will be defeated in various ways, which will have the player putting the puzzles together to see what ability he/she needs to defeat each boss.
Drawing inspiration from Super Mario Bros. and Super Meat Boy, the team wanted a game that would challenge its player. However, they did not want it to be impossible. They implemented a Soul Link that will allow the player to save at any time of the game, so no progress is lost.
The music is just as mesmerizing as the visuals. Ori and the Blind Forest features live orchestrated music that compliments the games graphics and also sets the tone for the journey into the forest.
Allowing us to play, we can report that the game's controls feel great; they were really good and tight. The abilities that will be added will assist the player in getting through the levels. When we asked if the game will feature a double jump ability, that was a question that they couldn't answer. However, Mahler did share that the character will feel like a super character, once his abilities are maxed out. He pointed out that the team's goal was to make the game "feel better than it looks".
Ori uses Spirit Flames to defeat enemies. The story mentioned that the forest creatures are never acting in a manner that is out of the norm. We got some questions in during the demo:
Tanya: There is a dark and mysterious character that we got a glimpse of. What is leading the other creatures to act in a surprising manner.
Mahler: This is something that we cannot get into details about at this time.
Tanya: We are seeing an increase in artistic emotionally boned games that go on to be successful. You mentioned you were inspired by other games and movies, can you elaborate on the inspiration behind Ori and the Blind Forest?
Mahler: As mentioned before, some of the games that inspired us are Super Mario Bros. and Super Meat Boy for gameplay. We were super inspired by Gibly and by Japanese and European culture.
Tanya: The highlighted characters in the demo and the trailer appear to be mother and child; what is their relation?
Mahler: Yes, that is the kind of relation between the two.
Ori and the Blind Forest is definitely a game to pick up as it offers ten hours of gameplay and will be made available as a digitally downloadable title through Xbox One. The game will also hit shelves for both Xbox One and PC this Fall, as a physical copy.
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