gamescom 2014: Going Vertical in Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest seized hearts and imaginations at E3 and San Diego Comic-Con this summer. This week’s gamescom conference presented a fresh look at the title, as creators Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol of Moon Studios walked us through a later, tougher area of the game called Ginso Tree. Unlike the sprawling, largely lateral areas shown previously, Ginso Tree is a long, vertical ascent, with the goal of restoring the decaying tree’s natural state.

Early in the level, Ori earns a new power essential to making the climb – the Bash Attack. Mahler explained that the team aims to develop abilities not usually seen in 2D games. Bash Attack is a familiar, yet fresh-feeling move – kind of like a 2D incarnation of the Blink from

Here’s how it works: Hold the Y button to freeze the action and bring up a compass-like arrow. Direct the arrow with the analog stick, release, and jet forward. It sounds reasonably basic, but here’s the twist – the wake of your Bash Attack will send projectiles sizzling in the opposite direction of Ori’s movement. This is useful not only in combat, but in puzzle solving and exploration. Mastering the interplay of double jumps, wall running, and Bash Attack running off wall, Mahler flew through a difficult section without hitting the ground.

Taking it to the next level, we then saw Bash Attack used as an elaborate way of redirecting a single projectile around a room, through portals, and into obstacles to clear a new path. Ori can’t emit any projectiles of its own (at least, not that we’ve seen so far), but with Bash, you can turn hazards into your own weapon.

Going hands on, we found this to be a challenging technique to master. Fortunately, you can drop a Soul Link at any time by holding B, effectively setting your own checkpoint. It’s a limited use ability, so there’s a bit of thought in play. Effective use of Soul Links will be key to making it through tougher sections of the game.

Once the Ginso Tree’s decay was cleared and its health restored, a thrilling escape sequence initiated; Ori climbed and Bashed his way up and out of the tree, as a beautifully animated torrent of water quickly rose from below. Safety was fleeting, however, as the restoration of the Ginso Tree awoke the giant owl seen in previous trailers, and it immediately took aim at Ori. Alas, that’s all we saw at gamescom, leaving what happens next to our imaginations until
Ori and the Blind Forest arrives on Xbox One this Fall.