A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ori and the Blind Forest is a challenging downloadable side-scrolling platformer with mild violence. Players occasionally use energy blasts to defeat fantasy characters that disappear in a flash of light. But the focus of the game is exploring the world, performing some very tricky running and jumping challenges that will see some players dig in and endure the challenge while others give up in frustration. The whimsical story, meanwhile, sees a catlike creature suffering a devastating loss persevering to save his forest from an encroaching darkness. He makes a noble, lovable, and sympathetic protagonist.
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What's it about?
ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST begins with a beautiful but sad opening sequence that leaves its hero, a catlike creature named Ori, alone in a wood that was once warm and nurturing but now is cold and decaying. Accompanied by a tiny white spirit named Sein, he sets off to defeat the encroaching darkness and restore the forest to its original life-nourishing splendor. His world is a giant two-dimensional interconnected maze of chambers filled with barriers that he can't get past until he earns the necessary skills -- such as double jumping -- or alters the environment to make it safe by, say, clearing polluted pools of water. As the game progresses, players slowly unlock more and more of the map, earning more energy and life cells and accessing secret chambers containing treasures and power-ups. Players can save almost anywhere, so long as they have an energy cell to do so, and it’s a good idea to save often because this is an exceptionally difficult game.
Is it any good?
Although Ori and the Blind Forest probably isn't for the easily frustrated or for young kids who are still developing their platformer skills, it's hard to imagine many other gamers who won't be taken in by its beauty and wonderfully intuitive interface. Dynamic layers of lighting and effects set upon background art combine to create one of the most vibrant two-dimensional worlds yet conceived. Ori's forest is seemingly alive with authentic movement, from tree rustling to fluttering shadows. Mix in a haunting orchestral score and it's simply a work of art, a buffet for the senses.
Plus, the action is a match for these good looks. Movement is an absolute joy, thanks to a combination of an intuitive interface and exceptionally tight control. It's a hard game -- much harder than most -- but nothing feels unfair. It simply challenges players to play their best. When you succeed, you're rewarded with a moment of bliss, a feeling that you've accomplished something difficult and satisfying. And all this wonderful action is predicated on a touching story which, although perhaps not original, is undeniably moving in its presentation and language -- both textual and visual. Gorgeous, gratifying, and emotional, Ori and the Blind Forest is simply a must-play for action fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about perseverance. What problems have you encountered that required endurance and the will to persist? Did you feel like a stronger person for overcoming them?
Families also can discuss screen-time limits. How do you know when you should take a break? Do you need reminders from your parents?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Emotional Development: moving beyond obstacles, persevering
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Studios
- Release date: March 11, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: E
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.