It's awesome that exactly 5 years after Ori and the Blind Forest debuted, we finally have a sequel so let's go on another magical journey.
I remember having a blast with Ori and the Blind Forest and thought it was a great game. However, I wasn't expecting Ori and the Will of the Wisps to be such a huge improvement over the original. I played it on Xbox One X and after enjoying it for a couple of hours, I really started to realise just how incredible of a game it is. Just like its predecessor, it begins with an emotional story segment that I honestly find to be a bit manipulative but others seem to like these sorts of openings so I won't go on about it. After that, the actual gameplay begins and right away, I noticed a huge step up when it comes to combat. Whereas the first game felt rather disconnected as you wave your attacks around, battling foes here is visceral and thoroughly enjoyable but I'll discuss the gameplay in more depth later on.
For now, allow me to say that Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks awesome. In my opinion, the most similar game on a visual level is the Trine series. For the record, although the graphics here feel much more real and organic, I still prefer the fantastical nature of the Trine games. Anyway, from the out-of-focus foregrounds to the detailed and mostly unambiguous platforms to the jaw-dropping animated backgrounds, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks nothing short of amazing. Also, its orchestral soundtrack is beautiful and the effects are super-satisfying. It's clear that Moon Studios really gave it their all to make the most magical 2D world in all of gaming.
The main aspect of Ori and the Will of the Wisps that I love is its platforming. Sure, you run and jump but where the gameplay really shines is in the abilities that you gradually acquire throughout the adventure. About a few hours in, you'll find yourself zipping through areas lightning-quick as you air-dash, leap from lights, and grab spinning cylinders only to fling yourself through a narrow opening with perfect timing. Holy hot darn, does that feel awesome! As I've touched upon, the combat is phenomenal and I've seen some folks say how difficult it is but it really isn't as long as you know when to jump and dodge out of harm's way which is easy once you memorize the different enemy types' patterns. Let me tell you; weaving through tricky attacks while smashing enemies up is a real treat!
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is quite a long game that'll have you travel to many distinct and memorable locales. On your way, you'll discover loads of treasures that'll help you on your adventure. Of course, there are items that'll increase your maximum health but the main collectibles are upgradable Spirit Shards which provide unique boosts. For example, you can break your projectile weapon up into 3 smaller and less powerful shots, reflect damage back to enemies, increase your defense, learn how to stick to walls instead of slide down them, and much more. There are also side-quests to complete so when you combine that with the intuitive map which conveniently displays treasures, you're looking at a ton of content to master via exploring, helping the locals, and there are even races, too.
Finally, there's a couple kinds of moments in Ori and the Will of the Wisps that occasionally took away from the experience. First, there are some stretches that you have to play through perfectly and if you don't, you'll perish and have to start all over again. One such segment forced me to try a handful of times because I didn't realise that the path ahead was going down instead of up. Having to replay that part over and over again while trying different things at that point drove me nuts! On the other side of the equation, there are plenty of moments when traversal simply feels tedious. For example, whenever you learn a new move, the stage designs test your ability to master that move which is normal but often; you'll end up finding yourself thinking, "Okay, I get it. Can I move on yet?"
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a wonderful Metroidvania that manages to be both beautiful and challenging. If you enjoyed Ori and the Blind Forest then you're in for one impressive treat with this sequel.
- + Fantastic platforming and visceral combat with a huge variety of moves
- + Gorgeous visuals and sound
- + Lengthy journey with lots of unlockables
- - Some trial and error parts are irritating
- - Certain areas can be tedious