Ori and the Blind Forest impressed players when it originally released on Xbox One. Not only did it feature phenomenal art, but the soundtrack was also enticing and the Metroidvania gameplay only furthered enjoyment. With Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Moon Studio promises a return to what made the original great, with various new elements to take the title to the next level. Given what we’ve seen in the past, it’s entirely possible, but is it something Moon Studio accomplishes or were they a one-hit-wonder? Here’s our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review.
Will of the Wisps takes place after the events of Blind Forest. With Ori now acting as the parent of the owl hatchling named Ku, Ori must do anything to protect its young. As Ori teaches Ku how to fly, things go awry for both of them as they both lose each other in a storm. It is now up to Ori to set off on an adventure once again to find Ku. Along Ori’s adventure, some of the returning characters will be back to help him such as Naru and Gumo. Similar to the original game, Will of the Wisps has the same narrative style where there will be no voiceovers between characters, and it will just be the narrator telling the story.
Fans expecting something new for the sequel will be slightly disappointed. As soon as you play the game, you’ll exactly notice that it is more of the same. Nothing has changed in terms of its visuals. Will of the Wisps still looks phenomenal with its unique and colorful 2D art style, and the soundtrack remains enticing just like the first game. As far as the platforming is concerned, players will be surprised as to how the level design is made. It will take you to different kinds of scenery that certainly makes exploration more exciting. Expect to really explore every nook and cranny for those who want to uncover the hidden items.
With Metroidvania style gameplay, one of the things to expect is a lot of backtracking and remembering what opens up. With an expansive map to explore, there are times you will get lost and get frustrated, which is normal if you have played the first game.
One change that really captivates me is the improvement in combat. Unlike in the first game, Ori has now the ability to use a sword-like weapon, which makes it more fast-paced and feels just right. In addition, Ori can also dash and bash ability at the early parts of the game, which you can combine when using Ori’s sword-like ability that varies from using a torch or a spirit-light kind sword.
Combining Ori’s sword-like weapon, you will also get abilities that will help Ori in his objective to find Ku. Some of the abilities that Ori unlocks, later on, help him deal more damage to an enemy to sometimes helping him reach places that are not reachable the first try. From the list of abilities that he can obtain in the game, it may be overwhelming at first. It takes time to master them all, but as soon as you do, it makes it all worthwhile in the end.
Spirit Trials are one of the new modes that are added in Will of the Wisp. After being able to access the Spirit Trial at specific locations in-game, players will have an opportunity to go through different kinds of challenges and finish it the fastest. Think of the Spirit Trials like some sort of a Time-Trial. The abilities you unlocked will be usable, thus making it much easier if you have unlocked and mastered an ability that is needed in a trial. After you have done a trial, your performance will be scored through a leaderboard.
As far as performance goes, it was not really stable at the time we have played the game several days ago. It was crashing on our Xbox One X, and sometimes on PC. There are times that sounds are stuttering. It was an utter mess but with the day-one patch that is promised to go live when it launches, it will eliminate all of the things many reviewers like us experienced. Without those issues that hinder the experience, it will be near perfect performance.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Review – Verdict
Despite some initial concerns, Ori and the Will of the Wisps manages to exceed fan expectations. Not only does it build on what made the original great, like art style and story, it has a more refined combat making it even more fun to play. Bugs aside, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is easily one of the best games out in 2020 and is something fans and newcomers alike should strongly consider, either though purchase or as a fun extra through Game Pass.
[Editor’s Note: Ori and the Will of the Wisps was reviewed on the Xbox One X and PC platforms. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]