With everything going on, I managed to find a couple of hours to give Ori and the Will of the Wisps a play. Having played Ori and the Blind Forest very briefly, I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong in the best way.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is as breathtaking as it is emotional, as challenging as it is enjoyable. I honestly feel like I should have been more prepared for what was going on. For this review, I played Ori and the Will of the Wisps for two hours on normal difficulty.
Graphically, it is simply stunning…
First and foremost, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is easily as beautiful as the first game. The cool tranquility of the woodland areas you start in, a wonderful vista of blues and greens, is sharply juxtaposed by the oranges and yellows of fire and danger. Ori’s character, being a spirit, glows brightly throughout. The contrast of bright neon-like light sources against the darker backdrop makes for easy identification of items of interest, too!
One thing I have mixed feelings on is the subtle level design in play. As a platformer, it is important to make it clear which platforms can be platformed on and which are un-platform-able. There were moments throughout my playing where this was not as clear as it should be. That being said, the fact that the platforms fit so well into the background makes the whole experience feel much more immersive. Combined with foreground silhouettes, you feel as if you are running through the forest, as opposed to in front of it.
The Plot is emotional and engaging…
In terms of the story being put in place, I began a little uncertain. I hadn’t played the first one much, and in passing, I did not manage to grasp a lot of the story. However, this did not prove to hinder my understanding of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The plot of the game boils down to a rescue mission, at least in the section of what I played.
The prologue introduces you to Ori’s makeshift woodland family and begins with the introduction of Ku, an owlet. Through the next few scenes, the family is shown interacting and Ku eventually overcoming her difficulty flying with a damaged wing. It is quite possibly the most adorable thing I have ever seen and instantly provides a strong emotional connection to Ku.
When disaster strikes, all the proverbial tits go up. Ori is riding Ku through a storm, and she loses control. The two get separated. Instantly, you feel compelled to find Ku. You’re driven by the concern for this owl you have met only moments ago. It’s strange, but a testament to the character creation and animation done by Moon Studios.
Ori has a tough adventure ahead of them…
I played up until shortly after the first “boss encounter”. I was not prepared for that. For what I thought was a more exploratory platformer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps throws you in the deep end combat-wise. Armed with a torch, you are forced to fight off Howl. Howl is essentially a giant, scary wolf-creature who has an unexplained desire to kill you.
I am embarrassed to say that this boss encounter took me WAY too many attempts, but the satisfaction of surviving it was all the sweeter when I did. Much like any platformer, it all came down to learning patterns and timing your own attacks accordingly. I, apparently, am just not good at that. Thankfully, I didn’t find myself being annoyed by this at all.
I didn’t get a chance to experience Ori and the Will of the Wisps upgrade system in any great detail through my short time playing, but it seemed to work as you would expect. You collect in-game currency and special items throughout, these go towards upgrading your health and attacks. There are also a number of movement abilities, such as dashing and gliding, which I am yet to uncover. Undoubtedly, they would have been handy in my encounter with Howl.
Final thoughts? You should definitely give it a go.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps was fairly fun to play, but as someone who is not a fan of platformers, I found that I probably would not have wanted to play for much more than a couple of hours at a time. In my mind, what carries this game is its characters and emotionally-driven story. That, and the fact that it is visually stunning.
It is also worth noting that the soundtrack to Ori and the Will of the Wisps is incredible. Thankfully, someone on YouTube has uploaded it in its entirety. So… Check that out, if anything.
I plan to continue playing, though, despite this, and will update the article should I do so. But Animal Crossing is coming out soon… so I may be too busy struggling through my debts with Tom Nook…