If you browse social media or take a look at the comment sections on gaming websites then you’re probably aware that there’s a huge percentage of gamers that roll their eyes at every announcement of a definitive edition. So, when Microsoft announced that their 2015 hit Ori and the Blind Forest was getting one, there were plenty of groans combined with excitement. Some thought that the console maker was just looking to make a quick buck by re-releasing a game that was barely a year old again, but thankfully this is far from the case.
Instead, Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is a gorgeous package that takes an already good game and makes it into the masterpiece it deserves to be. This is not a cash-in, rather this is a love letter from the developer to its fans. Moon Studios has addressed many complaints that gamers had of the original, and have crafted what is overall a much better experience.
The biggest change, aside from the new content, is that Ori finally has a fast travel system in place. This makes backtracking much less of a hassle, and makes finding all of the game’s collectibles to be an easier, more enjoyable time sink. New players will likely be baffled that the game didn’t have this system in place already, as the map is gigantic and getting around the environment can be extremely tricky.
There’s also two brand new environments to explore, Black Root Burrows and Lost Grove. These two areas focus on explaining the past of Naru, the adoptive mother of Ori. Neither of the locations feel like filler, as they are just as difficult and compelling as the main game. It’s also blended seamlessly into the game world, appearing near the first save point you find, which means veteran players can check out the area relatively early on.
Finding out more about the game world’s lore isn’t the only reward for playing through these sections, though, as gamers will also unlock brand new skills for navigating these tricky areas. The first new ability that Ori can gain is a dash that can be used both as an attack and for exploration. The other new ability is called Light Burst, and it effectively acts as a grenade. This projectile attack, which is unleashed by tapping the left bumper, is a very welcome addition to Ori’s repertoire.
Besides these additions, most of Ori and the Blind Forest is left unchanged. The game will still test the mettle of players, and even the new easy mode is far from a cakewalk. The divisive saving system, where players can spend energy to create a temporary save point anywhere on the map, is still in play as well. Moon Studios has largely kept the game feeling true to the original, and fleshing out their vision instead of making changes that would compromise it.
Similar to Rare Replay, the Definitive Edition has a nice selection of behind-the-scenes content that take players behind the curtain. There’s a number of interesting videos to watch including one of an early prototype of the game when it was called Sein. There’s also plenty of concept art to look at, and Moon Studios has done a good job of making this feel like a complete package that’s a treat for new gamers and one that is worthy of the $4.99 upgrade for those that already own Ori.
You don’t fix what isn’t broken, and that’s what makes Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition so great. The best looking game on Xbox One has been improved in a number of small, but significant ways. Besides the fast travel, none of the additions are really game changing, but they do add a new layer of depth to the experience. The tight platforming, enjoyable exploration, and rewarding gameplay are all still here in full force.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition fully lives up to its name. Moon Studios has fixed many of the flaws that marred the original game, and have added meaningful content that helps flesh out both the gameplay and narrative. This is exactly how re-releases should be done, and there’s no reason not to embark on Ori’s adventure once more, or for the very first time if you haven’t yet had the chance to do so.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which we were provided with.
This is a shining example of how a re-release should be handled, and Moon Studios has raised the bar by adding meaningful content that improves both the narrative and gameplay.