Ori, a human spirit
Ori, round 2 ! In the first article we went through Nibel and Niwen, now things are getting serious, it’s time to have a closer look at the hero, Ori, and their relationships with the NPCs. What does the game teach us about the little spirit ? A lot of good things ! Here we go.
In the small (yet slowly growing) pantheon of my favorite video games, there’s Ori, created by Austrian studio Moon Studios. Both games from the Ori franchise (Ori & the Blind Forest and Ori & the Will of the Wisps) are metroidvanias, like Guacamelee!, Axiom Verge (haven’t done it yet but I sure will !), Dandara… and of course Hollow Knight. The two franchises are constantly compared, not always in a very interesting way : for some it’s a bit of a war to know which game is the best. It’s a shame. The two games are diametrically opposed artistically (sometimes I think they’re in perfect opposition), but both are equally good (yet they don’t necessarily have the same strengths), because the quality and consistency of the artistic choices is at the same level in both franchises.
However, I will probably also talk about Hollow Knight in the articles about Ori, not to compare the games in terms of quality (like I just said, I don’t think it’s relevant), but because thinking about one highlights characteristics of the other. They kind of answer each other, and it’s always interesting to see how much artistic decisions make sense in relation to the story of a game.
You can imagine that I’m going to devote a few thousand words to the study of both soundtracks, written by English composer Gareth Coker ; this will be for later, I’ve already started it but it’s very long to write, since there should be a general article and then a focus on specific areas from the Ori universe. Plus I’m chatty when it comes to music. I mean, 10,000 words chatty. You know that (well, if you didn’t, now you do).
One of the key elements of the Ori games is the tension between the humanity and the spiritual nature of the little hero, so altruistic that they will sacrifice themselves for the sake of their family. But before studying the eponymous character (that will be for next article), we’ll start by looking at the world in which Ori evolves, a world in decline but nevertheless almost extravagant, given all that it offers.
Little Nightmares is a puzzle game developed by Swedish studio Tarsier Studios, whose soundtrack was written by Swedish composer Tobias Lilja. It is known for its disturbing atmosphere, dark without really being a horror game even if it has some elements typical of this genre, and its mysterious story that we would like to believe metaphorical but which however feels undeniably real ; the game raises many questions without necessarily answering them : this leaves us the choice when it comes to analyzing this strange but somewhat familiar world.
It’s a platform puzzle game in 2.5D with mainly a stealth dimension, or, as the developers say, hide and seek ; Little Nightmares is essentially about escaping from objects, creatures or characters that are prompt to kill us in brutal and violent ways : each monster has their favorite weapon, and sometimes, this weapon is a very hot oven.
We don’t always play our repertoire on the instrument for which it was written and thought. This may be because we are confronted with a transcription (hi Katchaturian, hi Mendelssohn, or more recently, hi Janáček), or because we play a piece from an earlier period than our modern flute.
Indeed, the literature for traverso (or for later instruments, flutes with several keys but still made of wood unlike the modern instrument) offers us very beautiful pieces of which it would be a pity to be deprived ; however when the time comes to play them with the modern flute, it is not always easy.
Well, I guess we’re done. The lore, the NPCs, the music (that one was a bit long), the graphics and the gameplay. So… why do I like this game so much ?
Graphics, animation & gameplay
If you have digested the – very yummy – previous article, a dissection of Hollow Knight‘s music (mainly) and sound design, let’s approach with a little more concision (but always in detail… go figure) the game’s graphics, animation and gameplay. For those who missed an episode, follow the links to find about the lore and enjoy the NPCs analysis.
Music & sound design
Back already ! As promised, after the lore and the NPCs, it’s time for the pièce de résistance. For this third article dedicated to Hollow Knight, I’m going to tackle the sublime soundtrack, composed by Australian composer Christopher Larkin, who was also in charge of the sound design.
After exploring Hollow Knight‘s beautiful lore in the first article, there is another particularly engaging element in this video game, which brilliantly shows all the variety and fluidity of emotions in the kingdom of Hallownest. The analysis of our little bugs continues with the non-player characters, or NPCs. Hollow Knight‘s NPCs are indeed the object of a very beautiful development.
Hollow Knight is a video game released in 2017 and developed by Australian indie studio Team Cherry. It’s an extraordinary metroidvania with stunning graphics and an exceptional soundtrack by Australian composer Christopher Larkin, set in the fictional kingdom of Hallownest, whose inhabitants are insects. Tons of insects. Insects pretty much everywhere. It’s one of the most beautiful video games I’ve ever seen and played (which is easy, you could say, considering my very modest videogame knowledge) and it is known for its rich yet cryptic story.
There will be several episodes in this series which I entitled “a Catharsis of Melancholy”, seeing as before writing an essay longer than a Stendhal novel on the reasons of my boundless love for this video game, I would like to simply analyze several aspects of Hollow Knight : the non-player characters, music and sound design, graphics and gameplay… But first of all, let’s have a look at the lore ! Beware, spoilers ahead.
Hollow Knight became my favorite game just thanks to ⬆ this image ⬆. It was a few weeks, or months, before I discovered GRIS, when I was looking for a way to escape from a long melancholy. The simplicity of the drawn character, which still allowed me to grasp the beauty of the art style, through this light effect and the details in the background, the confident stance, weapon in full view, letting me guess the type of challenge that would await me if I tried to play it, the contrast between the roundness of the hero’s little limbs and the energy that emanated from them, giving depth to their eyes which, as a result, seemed no longer empty… I was fascinated.