Wednesday, 22 February 2017

First Thoughts on Ori and the Blind Forest

Try not to get attached. Fail. Mourn.
Do you get tired of games that don't rip your still beating heart out of your chest within the first ten minutes of the game and stab it repeated with a blunt pencil while shouting 'this is what you get for caring?' If so, or if you like atmospheric platform puzzlers, you might like Ori and the Blind Forest.

Ori is a spirit of light separated from the great Spirit Tree of the forest and raised by a gorilla in a noh mask, until her foster parent dies of starvation because the forest is dying. Then Ori dies. Straight up, the opening sections of the game are: Ori drifts like a leaf and is adopted by Naru; Naru and Ori live happily; the forest dies and Naru starves to death while Ori is fetching food; Ori starves to death. The bit where Naru dies is bad enough, but then you have to slog slowly along while Ori expires. It's like watching the opening montage of Up.

Fortunately things pick up, as the Tree gives the last of its light to save Ori, who finds a spark of light called Sein that guides her to recover the light of other lost spirits in order to restore the balance of elements and save the forest from the rage of the owl spirit Kuro. She does this through a mixture of light combat and agile platform puzzling, retrieving various forms of key to open up new areas and explore the world of the forest. Defeating enemies and collecting light spirits allows you to level up different areas, loosely equating to combat, collecting and save management, which last is not something you often see on a skill tree.

Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful game, although it remains to be seen if the challenges will be varied enough to see me through the inevitable frustrating bits that come in any platformer.

First Thoughts on Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Adventures of an average, American family.
Do you get tired of games where the code takes over most of the functions of your character for you? Auto aim, context-sensitive cover and traversal, unified control of your character's limbs and body. If this is something that really grinds your gears, or if you're in the mood for some cartoon-style flailing around and burbling, then Octodad: Dadliest Catch might be for you.

In Dadliest Catch (sequel to the original, freeware Octodad) you take on the role of an unnamed octopus, who for reasons unknown (at least as far as I have got in the game,) has crammed his tentacles into clothing in order to masquerade as a human, marry a woman named Scarlet and raise her two children as his own. To do this, you switch between two modes: Legs, in which you use the mouse buttons and mouse movements to individually work the flailing, boneless tentacle pairs shoved down each trouser; and arms, in which you raise and lower, extend and retract your arm tentacle, suckering onto objects to manipulate them.

"The aisle is full of banana peels, but I'm the suspicious one?"
The game is divided into levels, each set in a different area (so far: church, home, store; and I'm at the start of the dreaded aquarium,) in which you have to complete a set of tasks and then, in most cases, escape from a chef who knows that you are an octopus and wants to turn you into a delicacy. As you go about your tasks, it is vitally important not to give yourself away by knocking things over, trampling flowers, or slipping on too many of the inordinate number of banana peels scattered about the world.

If it's not already clear, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one weird mamajama, although for all its bizarre trappings, it's basically one long ragdoll physics puzzle. As a result, I do struggle to play extended sessions, but it's fun to dip in and out of.