Screenshot of Ori in a new environment

Ori and the Blind Forest Shows How a Definitive Edition Is Done

Sporting eye-popping visuals, emotional storytelling, and engaging gameplay, last year’s award-winning Ori and the Blind Forest couldn’t be any better – or so we thought. The talented folks at Moon Studios apparently believed that they could squeeze even more awesome out of their brilliant indie and did just that with a definitive edition, due next month for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

Appropriately titled Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition, the new version complements the original with a number of fresh, fan-pleasing features. For starters, an expanded theater mode – as described by Executive Producer Mark Coates – further shines the spotlight on the game’s gorgeous visual presentation. “Not only will you be able to view all of the cut-scenes, but now you will be able to see early concept material from the game, trailers, and some other really cool content in theater mode.”

While behind-the-scenes bonus material might be enough to draw fans back to the Spirit Tree, Coates and his team aren’t stopping there. A sizable new playable area, dubbed Black Root Burrows, will let fans dig deeper into the game’s rich fiction. “There is a great story sequence throughout Black Root Burrows where you’re discovering the past of Naru, the mother character,” Coates said. “You discover her roots, where she came from, and you learn a bit more about her as a character and why maybe she is compelled to do some of the things that she does later on in the game. It’s all interwoven with the already-existing story.”

As we learned during our recent hands-on session, this fresh narrative material is complemented by new ways to navigate the environment, solve puzzles, and best baddies. Within Black Root Burrows, for example, we discovered a dash ability that grants a quick burst of speed with a tap of RB. The slick move can be further enhanced within the skill tree, allowing players to do damage with it and, eventually, perform it in midair. The visually striking environment – which thematically plays with the contrast between light and dark in cool ways – opens up early in the adventure, but can be further explored once players possess the right skills to access its depths.

Those who do venture into the new area’s more dangerous sections also gain Light Burst, an ability that the developer giddily described to us as “more or less like a grenade.” Coates hinted that its explosive potential will aid in both solving puzzles and defeating enemies. While the new abilities are discovered in Black Root Burrows, they’ve been implemented and balanced in such a way that they can be used in all areas of the game. In fact, all the new content – from story to gameplay – has been carefully woven into the existing experience, so it feels like an organic part of the game we fell in love with nearly a year ago.

Speaking of fans’ glowing adoration for the original game, it can’t be denied that a few casual players had their hearts broken by Ori’s platforming challenges. Thankfully, the Definitive Edition’s new “easy” mode will allow gamers of any and all skill levels to enjoy its immersive art style and engrossing narrative. On the flip side, those who crave a challenge will appreciate the opportunity to tackle “hard” mode or, if they’re really brave, the as-brutal-as-advertised “one-life” mode.

With all the fresh content on offer, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the Definitive Edition is allowing Windows 10 players to experience one of last year’s best games, while also giving them the benefits – like cross-saves – that come with being a part of the Xbox One ecosystem.

Whether you’ve already been touched by this indie masterpiece or are wondering what all the fuss is about, Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition promises to tax your thumbs and tug your heartstrings when it hits Xbox One and Windows 10 PC next month.