Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful game full of fluid movement, big set pieces, furious action and heartfelt quiet moments that will amaze and delight you. This is the follow up to Ori and the Blind Forest from Moon Studios and with big boots to fill after their superb first game, the boots have definitely been filled.
The colours and world of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is vibrant and pops out the screen regularly throughout the game. This game levels up from the first in almost every way related to gameplay, combat, puzzles and the vibrant world you inhabit. There are times throughout the game where your jaw will drop at what you’re seeing in this game. The world around you is alive through the leaves on the trees, the animals you interact with and the dangerous environment that’s out to get you.
The story in Ori and the Will of the Wisps carries on from where we left off in the last game. Ori went on an adventure to save the forest and now life has settled down. Ori is raising a tiny Owl, left to her by Kuro, a massive bird that spent much of the last game chasing Ori. Ori’s Owl is having trouble learning to fly and Ori offers the tiny Owl a feather from Kuro to help them. After a beautiful cutscene where Ori and the Owl take flight, both are caught in a huge storm caused by the corruption of the last game. It’s back to once again cause Ori and the forest problems. Ori and the Owl are split up during the storm and it’s down to Ori to restore the forest once again and reunite with the Owl.
Due to the storm, Ori is left alone in a new part of the forest with new secrets and power-ups to find as well as face an old enemy. Old characters return in this game along with Ori. The Spirit Tree is back once again, along with the incredible sound effects and voice that drives the narrative forward in the game.
There are some elements here that have been inspired by other Metroidvanias like Hollow Knight. NPCs are dotted around the map offering more story details but also tools to help you along your journey. Lupo, who helps you with your maps is there, as well as Moki, the group of furry little creatures provide more details about the world around you. Twilen is the vendor who sells you various items like shards and stones that provide new skills and buffs.
Side quests are more apparent in the Wellspring Glades this time, which provide extra secrets and narrative for you to explore along the way to finishing the main story. These extra characters and quests provide another layer that was perhaps missing in the first Ori game and allows the player to have a deeper connection with the game world that Moon Studios have created.
Power-ups and finishing your skill tree is an important part of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. New areas will be locked off to you without these skills, so finding the Spirit Trees and levelling up is your first priority. These skills and abilities drastically change the way Ori plays and traverses the environment. The world is designed with these new skills in mind with forests, water and sand blocking your path. As well as the power-ups that can be gathered out there in the world you can also head back to the village to buy new skills through the vendors like Twilen.
Skills brought at the village can feed into your combat options. Layers of complexity have been added to the combat controls in Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Whereas in the last game you could probably get away with button mashing to get through enemies, here more skill and timing is required. Multiple attacks in the air, lock-on attacks, double-jumping, fireballs are all available at your disposal this time around. Ori feels fluid and free as you move through the environments and attack your opponents. It’s one of the best feeling games in terms of traversal through environments and chaining combinations together.
This time around the platforming has been toned down and combat and big set pieces have been brought into focus. There are huge boss fights, but rather than chasing huge bosses through areas as we did in Blind Forest more traditional boss fights have been installed here. There’s a layer of complexity that has been added with various systems either through combat or developing Ori’s skilled which will divide fans. Personally I enjoyed the improvements, but it’s unclear if it’s going to be a welcome evolution from the first game.
The graphics and audio in the game are another huge success from Moon Studios. The colourful, vibrant characters and the immense world has been created with care and once again we have huge set pieces that will make you sit back and simply go “wow”. This is like a cartoon come to life, one that you can control and shape the story ahead of you. Performance at times can send the computer or console you are playing on into overdrive, but thankfully many of the issues that were found in early release versions of the game have been fixed with a day 1 patch.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps has to be the best game released so far in 2020. It’s also available from day one on Xbox Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber to that service then here’s another amazing game to add to your game library.
Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: Xbox, PC
Release Date: 11th March 2020
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