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Ori And The Blind Forest by Gareth Coker (Review)

posted Apr 15, 2015, 4:09 PM by Kaya Savas

Ori And The Blind Forest is a new platforming game that beautifully encompasses the player in a fantasy world wrapped around an emotional story. The visuals and gameplay are stunning and if you find yourself being whisked away to some fantasy world by the music, you should see it paired with the gameplay. Games like this are supremely focused on gameplay, as it becomes an integral part of the structure. Gareth Coker was tasked at building an immense score to not only bring the worlds of the blind forest to life, but bring emotional resonance to the story and characters. He succeeds greatly with a score that's wondrous, magical, beautiful, exciting and full of life.

Ori And The Blind Forest opens with the central theme as the story begins. The story’s protagonist is a forest spirit whose life begins with a great tragedy, this propels him to find his purpose within the world that surrounds him. Coker does a wonderful job gently delivering some heavy emotions right from the get go. This gives our narrative an emotional weight to build from as Ori’s extensive journey lays ahead. Speaking of Journey, many may feel compelled to compare both the game and the score to Journey. Journey is a masterpiece, I will say that, of both score and game. However, what we have here is a 9-hour platformer that immerses us in a lush and complex world. Journey was a 2.5 hour game that embraced more of a simple and streamlined approach to emotions and gameplay. Both are wonderful in their own rights. The score here in its entirety is the embodiment of a beautiful fairytale adventure, of a personal journey of discovery. The music does its duties to make each different area feel unique while still keeping the central core of the character at the forefront. So instead of musical ideas such as Level 1 theme/Level 2 theme, we have Ori in Level 1/Ori in Level 2. It makes the score that much more accessible and a better storytelling tool than traditional platforming scores. With that being said, there may some disconnect and it’s hard to keep the grand picture in scope through the journey at times. The score has to sustain a long journey through various different levels, and it’s inevitable that some pacing issues in the narrative would have to make way for the gameplay. However, it’s a minuscule structural thing that doesn't really take away from the grand awe of the score by the time we reach its emotional end. Once the score sets into the final act, the listener will be filled with rushes of emotions as Coker brings everything full circle in a truly breathtaking fashion.

Ori And The Blind Forest is a tremendous effort from Gareth Coker. He managed to build a beautiful story through a strong central theme that traverses a rich and living world. Ori’s journey becomes our journey, and the music brings everything to life in the game. There is no dialogue, just sporadic narration in a fictional language. So the music here carries everything. While some slight structural clunkiness occurs, it’s not enough to stop the power of this score. The music will wash over you and sweep you away on one of the more memorable journeys you will take. Don’t skip over Ori And The Blind Forest; it’s something that will touch gamers and non-gamers alike.