Ori and the Blind Forest is a platform-adventure Metroidvania video game developed by Moon Studios and published by Microsoft Studios that tells the tale of a young orphan destined for heroics, through a visually stunning action platformer. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One in March 2015. Since the games’s release it has won 2 awards regarding it’s art, “The Game Award for Best Art Direction” in 2015 and “BAFTA Games Award for Artistic Achievement” in 2016.
DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY PLAYED THE GAME, I have always had an interest just for the art direction alone, I have also heard that the story is quite powerful in the first 10 minutes. I’ve been told I need to prepare for an opening like Pixar’s “Up”.
The art is what also drew me to wanting to write about this game for this particular topic, the environment along with it’s eye catching colours really stood out whilst researching, although I am not a lover of Anime this is what the game was born from, known for “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbour Totoro”, Hayao Miyazaki’s studio, Studio Ghibli worked to together with Level 5 on the Ni no Kuni games to then inspire Ori and the Blind Forest. Hayao Miyazaki is responsible for creating many of the studio’s iconic characters and environments within the anime world and apparently because of this his studio is considered the Disney of the Anime world. Below are a few notable images of the Ni no Kuni games that look like they are pretty similar to the type of environment that Ori and the Blind Forest has.
It has been said that the game particularly uses inspiration from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” especially in it’s art style and the way it uses light within each scene, this was made by Hayao Miyazaki’s studio and was Directed by himself .
Just from the images shown above you can not deny how scene’s like the one above have clearly inspired Ori and the Blind Forest, just from the lighting alone in how the surrounding forest is quite dark and uninviting compared to the foreground path which is full of strange flora and fauna which also are what seems to be the scene’s source of light, emitting mostly a blue tone in both images, it can also be seen that the plants wavey design design with a lot of circular patterns seen on them also, this can also be seen in some examples of the plants from Ori and the Blind Forest.
Even moving onto the characters that are used in the game, there is a large character named “Naru”, Naru is a creature of an unknown race and Ori’s effective “foster mother”. When Ori became separated from the Spirit Tree during the Great Storm, Naru discovered the young spirit and raised it as her own child. Below you can see an image of Naru holding Ori.
As you can see the design of Naru is a rather larger, furry character with a face sort of like Baymax out of Big Hero 6, however this looks very similar to two other characters used in the anime that I mentioned earlier, “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbour Totoro”, obviously because of the inspiration taken from Hayao Miyazaki.
In my personal opinion the characters that can be seen above look like they have had aspects taken from them to create Naru, the large furry body from the one above and the almost mask looking face from the character in the image below as well. By the looks of the above image, the type of environment that My Neighbour Toroto looks very similar to the early environment that the game also has.
As you can see the environment above is very luscious and green, almost untouched as well apart from the current structure that the characters are creating, however even the assmebly of the scene with a large body of water along with trees being a focal point look can be seen from the image from My Neighbour Totoro.
In an IGN interview, Alexa Ray Corriea sits down with Mark Coates of Microsoft to play and discuss the beautifully stylized Ori and the Blind Forest, within the interview it is said that they wanted a game that had very good platforming controls but also looked beautiful with amazing animation like what studio Ghibli could do, it was stated that strong animation along with amazing visual art that went into game was what it was built on and was an amazing pairing for them.
As you can see from the reasons given above, it is pretty obvious that the creators of Ori and the Blind Forest used the work of Hayao Miyazaki to inspire their visually stunning creation, from the environment and lighting used to the characters themselves.