Moon Studios’ atmospheric Metroidvania, Ori and the Blind Forest, managed to be a breakout hit which seemingly came out of nowhere for Xbox players, and has fast become one of the most renowned indies. While it’s been almost 5 years since the initial release of this gripping 2D adventure, Moon Studios has drifted back into the spotlight once again with the surprising announcement of a Switch port.
More significant though, is the upcoming sequel, with its release date finally drawing near. Set to release on March 11, 2020, this Xbox One exclusive sequel looks even more captivating and dense than the original. While we ride out this final couple of months though, there’s plenty of Metroidvania-style adventures to try while you wait. These are experiences that, at least in some form, capture the general traits and feel of this wondrous game.
Let’s go over 10 of the best examples now. While most will contain a blend of Ori‘s qualities, some will stress the exploration and/or puzzle elements, while others will adhere more to action/platforming traits, etc.
Playdead, the masterminds behind the charming puzzle-platformer Limbo, make an emphatic return with one of the most inventive, eerie sidescrolling puzzlers in recent history.
The game is similarly minimalistic to Ori in its use of contrasting shades of light and dark with ambiguous silhouettes. At the same time, though, Inside presents a nuanced, emotional narrative that drops you into a creepy dystopian nightmare dripping with atmosphere. The name of the game is to lay low and avoid being seen as you take on a series of super clever puzzles. These brain-busters are typically based in stealth, evasion, and/or the controlling of other lifeforms.
In much the same way that Ori invokes a majestic sense of wonder, INSIDE radiates a sense of gloomy despair, providing a dark, impressionable journey.
While it takes its place on our list as the only full-3D experience, Fe actually holds quite a few similarities to the sidescrolling Ori.
Developer Zoink’s 2018 indie game similarly takes a stylistic approach to its aesthetics and narrative. Basically, it lets the scenic, silent, and often gloomy settings of the wilderness speak for itself. You’re given subtle puzzles that you must work your way through by sheer wit, along with plenty of trial and error, as you must earn progress with your fox hero by singing songs to trigger different elements. The game offers a subdued, organic feel of progression and environmental puzzles that feel very Ori-esque.
8 The King’s Bird
While Ori – and seemingly its sequel – take a slower, methodical approach to the pacing, The King’s Bird uses on a similar puzzle-platforming style while leaning on free-flowing swiftness and exhilarating flight mechanics.
This game stresses precision and timing rather than working through brain-busting obstacles, as you’ll be soaring through the sky and speeding across the vast, silhouetted settings in a somewhat non-linear fashion. Rather than offer an abundance of upgrades though, this game will have you relying on straight-up reaction time and skill honing.
In this sense, The King’s Bird feels akin to a stylized, edgy take on Sonic the Hedgehog, with a dash of Metroidvania mixed in.
7 Steamworld Dig 2
You could somewhat argue that Image & Form’s delightful Metroidvania feels more like a smaller Terraria rather than an offshoot of the more puzzle-heavy Ori. Still, the overall experience will definitely satisfy the taste buds of those fans who appreciate open-ended exploration, along with the satisfying upgrades you’ll obtain in steady doses.
Building on the solid foundation of Steamworld Dig, this 2017 follow-up elevates this experience to another level with even more tools and upgrades at your disposal, along with larger, richer underground areas to mine your way through. This is definitely a Metroidvania-style gem you’ll want to unearth.
6 Child Of Light
There are some elements of Ubisoft’s fantastical hand-drawn 2D journey that feel Ori-esque, not the least of which is the open-ended landscapes laced with plenty of puzzles.
The role-playing elements here are definitely more fleshed out and in-depth, and much of the game leans on semi-turn-based battles. Still, Child of Light captures that same sense of adventure amidst lavish, vibrant settings, as you venture forth with the princess, Aurora. The sidescrolling mechanics even feel similar, since you’ll spend much time drifting and soaring through the skies, similar to the way in which Ori floats across the hazard-laden areas.
If you fancy inventive platforming, strengthened by clever puzzles embedded into the gameplay – which tends to be true for most Ori fans – you’ll want to give TurnOn a try. This little-known puzzle/platformer from ’16 definitely has a feel similar to Moon Studios’ projects, in that you’ll use your character to trigger points that allow you to progress.
Since you’re literally playing as a source of light, the goal is – naturally – to illuminate and power-up various objects.
The game distils things down to a simple “get from A to B” experience on the one hand, while injecting some subtly nuanced puzzle aspects throughout. TurnOn takes much of the Ori formula and dials back some of the intricacies to offer a more bite-sized, casual approach.
4 My Memory Of Us
While it seems like a simple, cartoony project on the surface, Juggler Games’ My Memory of Us shines as a very endearing sidescroller. The game plays like a hybrid between a simpler Metal Gear Solid stealth adventure and a clever, multi-layered puzzler. This appealing gameplay is dressed up with stylized graphics and an emotional narrative. Two young protagonists must sneak and evade their way through the hostile streets of Nazi-occupied Poland as they try to safely escape.
The kicker is that you’ll have to shift between the 2 characters; each of which can take on different tasks that must be synchronized and/or coordinated in different ways. This is an artistic, innovative take on the puzzle-platformer that will leave quite the impression.
3 Rayman Legends
Aside from its more linear format, there is much that feels similar to Ori when playing through this enjoyable new take on the classic Rayman series. You’ve got the solid platforming mechanics, smooth, free-flowing physics, a slew of collectibles, and some unpredictable, shifting elements to deal with in each new environment.
The game also draws you in with some gorgeous visuals and detailed animation, even moreso than its 2011 predecessor, Origins. Aside from the upcoming sequel Wisps, this delightful Rayman romp is one of the best-looking 2D games stylistically. Along with games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Rayman Legends is in the top tier of modern sidescrollers – which the Ori sequel seems almost certain to join.
2 Light Fall
The more linear gameplay aside, there are quite a few elements to this atmospheric, minimalistic experience that definitely radiate that Ori vibe. Light Fall juxtaposes powering contraptions with a largely empty wilderness, rife with environmental hazards.
The difference is that, while Light Fall balances light puzzles with platforming like Ori, it also minimizes offensive prowess in favor of speed and maneuvering. The crux of the gameplay revolves around your ability to throw down platforms – not unlike that multiplayer feature in New Super Mario Bros. U. It’s simple, but it works, and provides a uniquely enjoyable experience as you drift and glide your way forward.
1 Hollow Knight
It’s tough to find a gaming experience that feels more similar to Ori, point by point, than Hollow Knight – an enriching new take on a Metroidvania. This game has also birthed a more lavish sequel recently, Silksong.
From the organic feel of the progression, various unlockables, and the vast webs of interconnected corridors, Team Cherry’s 2017 project really does provide a palpable Ori vibe, and given the quality of that game, this is only a good thing. It does veer more in an arcade-style direction with its emphasis on grueling combat. Yet, Hollow Knight definitely contains similar puzzle, exploration, and progression elements throughout.
This is especially the case with the Ori sequel, which looks to abandon the sequential upgrade system in favor of a more Hollow Knight-style approach.
NEXT: The 10 Best Games In The Castlevania Franchise Ranked (According To Metacritic)