5 Ways Ori and the Blind Forest Differs from Hollow Knight
The game industry classifies both Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight as “metroidvanias”. As game developers continue to pursue new battle systems and gameplay mechanics, video game sub-genres are increasingly becoming more convoluted and nuanced. Perhaps no gaming sub-category embodies this paradigm more than that of the “Metroidvania” sub-genre. What was once an action-adventure sub-category has now become flooded with fresh ideas and original concepts, which has made direct comparisons challenging.
In 2018, Hollow Knight graced the Nintendo Switch with one of the best “Metroidvania” style action-adventure games of all time. The game has sold nearly three million copies and continues to be an Indie darling on the Switch. As fans anxiously await Team Cherry’s sequel, Hollow Knight Silksong, Microsoft surprised the industry by releasing Ori and the Blind Forest on September 27 for the Nintendo Switch. While the previous XBOX exclusive has long been heralded as a direct comparison to Hollow Knight in terms of exploration and progression, there are several nuances that fans should consider before purchasing either title.
1. Gameplay Focus
While most comparisons to the Dark Souls series are lazy and ignorant, proclaiming Hollow Knight as the “Dark Souls of the Metroidvania” sub-genre is rather fitting. The primary focus of Hollow Knight and Dark Souls is the boss battles. Although exploration is prevalent throughout, it takes a backseat to thrilling, tough-as-nails boss fights. These encounters can be grueling and give Hollow Knight the label of a difficult game. Rarely will gameplay elements outside of boss encounters hinder progression. The Pale King’s White Palace is another story, but we digress…
Ori and the Blind Forest brings a new approach. Although Ori’s companion Sein can fire “Spirit Flames” to defeat enemies, the primary focus of Ori and the Blind Forest is puzzle-solving. While players must defeat some enemies to traverse certain areas, Ori relies heavily on puzzle elements as a means of progression. Examples include pressing levers that open a path for set amount of time as well as directing enemy projectiles with different platforming abilities. Although the combat system is basic, the puzzle-solving challenges are increasingly difficult to conquer.
2. Art Style
Both games have beautiful aesthetics but differ slightly in presentation. Hollow Knight’s art style is hand-drawn with a hint of gothic beauty. Overall, the world of Hollownest embodies tones of melancholy and despair. As a result, various sections of the map can appear gloomy, drab, and dull. To break up this monotony, the developers at Team Cherry chose to feature a specific color in each area. For example, Crystal Peak features the color pink, the Hive features a golden-yellow visual, and Queen’s Gardens employs a green hue.
While its art style appears to be hand-drawn, Ori’s computer-generated imagery not only embraces color but also promotes variety. Each section of the map combines the natural hues of a forest’s depths with a vibrant radiance that highlights the game’s supernatural elements. Although the story is heartbreaking, the art style promotes feelings of hope and resolution.
3. Storytelling & Lore
As with its combat system, Hollow Knight mirrors the Dark Souls series in terms of cryptic storytelling methods. Although the Knight can interact with numerous NPCs scattered throughout Hollownest, the heart of the game’s lore is buried deep within its item descriptions. Each new charm discovery yields subtle hints as to the fall of the Pale King and the spread of the infection. While Hollow Knight follows this Dark Souls’ method, it diverges with a unique mechanic known as the “Dream Nail”. When used on enemies, bosses, and NPCs, the Dream Nail will reveal the target’s inner-most thoughts and secrets. The ensuing nuggets of information help to piece together the history of Hollownest.
Ori and the Blind Forest takes a more direct approach. Instead of relying on item descriptions and NPC interactions, Ori and the Blind Forest tells its story through textual narration that is equally genius and enigmatic. As Ori overcomes various obstacles and reaches new destinations, narration takes over large portions of the screen and provides context as well as purpose to the journey. The exception are the game’s cut scenes that rely on unspoken animation to drive home a particular message or theme.
4. Controls & Camera Angle
Because the game focuses on enemy encounters, Hollow Knight’s control is both accurate and responsive. Instead of “floaty” platforming controls, the Knight jumps and falls at the same rate, which allows for precise platforming and combat. In addition, the camera angle is also zoomed in closer than that of Ori and the Blind Forest to aid players in precision combat. The result is strict gameplay controls and a camera focus that encompasses entire boss arenas.
The controls and camera angle in Ori and the Blind Forest mirrors the game’s focus of puzzle-solving. The developers give Ori a mythical feel by providing controls that are “floaty” and realistic. Because Ori’s movements are varied, players can feel Ori’s struggle to traverse a wall or swim through a lake. The camera angles also complement the game’s puzzle-solving mechanic by allowing Ori to see large portions of the map. This gameplay approach aids in both navigation and strategy.
5. Upgrade System
While both games utilize the traditional “Metroidvania” mechanic of platforming ability upgrades to traverse new areas, Hollow Knight and Ori differ greatly in skill and combat upgrades. Hollow Knight utilizes a charm system in which players can equip different buffs and skills, which provide unique advantages and disadvantages during boss fights. Nail upgrades increase the strength of the Knight’s nail and are performed by delivering pale ore to the nailsmith. Pale ore can be purchased as well as discovered in secret locations throughout Hollownest.
Ori and the Blind Forest incorporates RPG elements with its skill-tree mechanic. Enemies drop elements of light that fill a circular gauge. When filled, the player is granted with one ability point, which can be used to unlock a skill-tree node. Unlocked nodes grant various enhancements to Ori’s abilities, such as a stronger charge flame and more life regeneration. While players can ignore enemies, Ori’s skill-tree provides incentive to engage in combat, especially during challenging platforming sections.
Fans of Hollow Knight might not enjoy Ori and the Blind Forest, but each game is beautiful and unique. Players should expect gameplay experiences that mirror this reality. But we want to hear from you. What do you think of Hollow Knight and Ori and the Blind Forest? Which game is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments section below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on Pokemon, Modern Warfare, Capcom, Blizzard and more.
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