Ori and the Blind Forest was a delight in 2015 – a rock-hard combination of a Metroidvania structure and Meat Boy-like demands with a surprising amount of genuine power. Five years later, Ori Studios’ sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps are as graceful and beautiful as its predecessor, even though some of the emotional beats and exploration feel a little less new the second time around. This is our Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review.
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review: About
- Platform: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
- Genres: Metroidvania
- Release Date: March 11, 2020
Official Trailer Video
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review: Gameplay
Will of the Wisps picks up where Blind Forest left off almost immediately, with Ori’s patchwork family unit welcoming a new member, the owl Ku. The family is happy and loving, but Ku wants to fly, and Ori wants to help her. Soon the two are swept in a storm to a new forest deep with rot, which starts the adventure seriously. Because this setting is separate from that in Blind Forest, the geography is unique yet familiar.
The painterly imagery is comforting, especially during opening hours as you explore comparable biomes. They are beautifully rendered again, but a bit the same if you played the first game. After a while, Will of the Wisps opens up to more varied locations, such as an almost pitch black spider hole or a windy desert. The theme in the whole story is the destruction of decay, a creeping evil that overtook this neighboring forest after its magical tree withered. But if it’s meant to be ugly, you wouldn’t know it from many of the lush backgrounds – especially in the case of a vibrant underwater section.
Often swallowed by these vast environments, Ori emphasizes how small the little forest ghost is compared to their vast environment. Ori’s range of acrobatic moves makes it an exciting treat to explore new areas. Exploration becomes more exciting as you unlock more skills and become more adept. Some of them get straight out of the first game, which can be disappointing in addition to the excitement of discovering a shiny new skill. Still, those old standby’s always worked well and make the improvisational jumps and boundaries feel as good as ever.
However, the picturesque vistas seem to push the hardware hard. When I played on an Xbox One X, I encountered visual glitches, such as the screen freezing on a semi-regular basis, and the card would stutter. Usually, these were a simple nuisance, but occasionally it would come halfway through the jump and throw off my sense of momentum and direction. A patch on day one significantly reduced freezing and wholly resolved the map problem.
While Ori is ostensibly a Metroidvania, Will of the Wisps is less focused on exploration and backtracking than is typical of the genre. Your goals are usually clear, straight lines and shortcuts in the different environments will quickly get you back on the main path. Most of the wanderlust comes in the form of abundant sidequests, such as conveying a message or finding a trinket for a beast. There is even a trading chain. Eventually, you will open a hub area that can be built into a small community for the forest dwellers.
These upgrades are mainly cosmetic, so it is primarily a visual showcase of the specific items used for it. The sidequests are almost wholly optional. I was happy with the freedom to follow the critical path without artificial barriers, but I also plan to go back and explore the depth to spend more time in the world. The reduced emphasis on reconnaissance seems to have been replaced by a significant expansion of the battle. Instead of the occasional nuisance from the rare enemy, Will of the Wisps introduces numerous threats that are almost always present.
Fortunately, the combat system has been revised to match the elegance of the platforming. The story progression features a sword and a bow, with other optional weapons available for purchase, and you can assign any combat move to X, Y or B. However, the battle takes some getting used to, partly because it’s built to work in combination with Ori’s agile movements. While at first, I felt uncomfortable and inaccurate in battle, chopping my sword wildly against even the mildest monsters, my level of comfort grew as I gained new platforming skills.
Around the middle of the game, I realized that I had become adept at stringing platform and combat skills together, raging through the air and bordered between threats with ballistic rhythm and barely hitting the screen until the screen was cleared. That level of finesse is necessary as Ori and the Will of the Wisps introduces a series of massive boss battles, all of which are more complex than anything else in Blind Forest.
Barely perceptible narratives often indicate Their attack patterns. Usually, the boss fills a significant amount of the interactive foreground and even more of the background – but this can make it frustratingly difficult to determine what is and isn’t vulnerable to your attacks or what parts will do crash damage. Through all of this, beating them feels like a relief and achievement, although sometimes more of the former than the latter.
The sprawling bosses and climax escapes are ways to express a more excellent, more operative feel for Will of the Wisps. Blind Forest was a modest game that told an intimate, recognizable fable. Wisps have a more substantial, far-reaching scope and thereby lose some of that intimacy. It still has moments of emotional weight, both exciting and heartbreaking, and Moon Studios still has a way of expressing an incredible measure of wordless emotion with subtle moments of body language.
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review: Conclusion
The story in Will of the Wisps is often darker, and even the moving moments are bittersweet. The main antagonist, an owl, named Shriek, is similar to the first game’s Kuro in that he has suffered tragedy in the past. But how the story tackles that tragedy is more saddening, and it’s a moment of terrifying animation that will stay with me more than any other image from the game. Even the finite moments that end the story, while appropriately heroic and hopeful, are tinged with quiet sorrow and inevitability – the feeling that everything ends.
That finality could mean this is the final Ori game, a farewell to the fantastic world and memorable characters that made Moon Studios a standout developer from the very beginning. If that’s the case, you can hardly ask for a better sender. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a remarkable synthesis of artistic design and beautiful moments.