Almost 2 years after its original announcement and exactly 5 years after its predecessor released, Ori and the Will of the Wisps was finally released on March 11th. This was my most anticipated game the year, which is why I’m happy to say that it is a great game, but one you might want to wait a couple of weeks before buying.
Return to the Forest
Anyone who played the original Ori and the Blind Forest will immediately feel at home in Will of the Wisps. That wonderful sense of flow that made the first game so great is back in full force here. The animation is smooth and crisp, and Ori has the perfect amount of weight to her movements.
Of course, being a Metroidvania (a genre of games with a heavy emphasis on unlocking and using new abilities to reach new areas of the map), how you move around the map will change a lot as you unlock more abilities. You can expect to see all of Blind Forest’s best abilities (such as the bash, dash, and double jump) all make their triumphant return. Will of the Wisps also introduces a few new abilities, all of which feel right at home with Ori’s preexisting kit. The grapple and burrow abilities, in particular, take high honors, expanding the platforming and movement options of Ori greatly.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is definitely more linear than most metroidvanias, but this works in its favor. Because the developers knew what abilities most players would have in different areas, they were able to make complicated platforming segments that truly test your skills. These parts of the game can be tough, but conquering them feels rewarding and oftentimes is rewarding with various collectibles hidden behind these challenges.
When it comes to level design and platforming, Will of the Wisps does exactly what a good sequel should and expands on what made the original so great. But what’s more impressive is how it tackles Blind Forest’s biggest flaw.
By far, Blind Forest’s biggest problem was its combat system. It managed to strike this balance between being boring to use and frustrating all at the same time—it was almost impressive. Fortunately, Will of the Wisps massively improves on this. Now, we have a melee-oriented combat system with plenty of unlockable combat-focused abilities. It’s fun, skill-based, and even customizable. The combat is the ultimate example of the improvements Will of the Wisps makes on its predecessor, and why it’s obvious Moon Studios learned from its first game.
The story in Blind Forest was heavily praised for being short, sweet, and non-obtrusive. I’m happy to report that Will of the Wisps is the same in this regard. The plot is simple, but it still manages to tug at your heartstrings the same way as Blind Forest did. And, the increased number of characters helps make the world feel more alive and worth fighting for.
Beautiful in Sight and Sound
Ori and the Will of the Wisps may just have the best overall presentation of any 2D platformer I’ve ever played.
The visuals constantly impress, with such detailed backgrounds that it feels like the world goes on for miles behind the 2D plane you’re locked to. And, the soundtrack always steals the show with tracks that perfectly match the areas you’re exploring.
Just like its predecessor, the presentation stands out as one of the most memorable parts of Will of the Wisps and helps make sure the game won’t be easily forgotten.
The Dark Side of the Forest
So far, I’ve almost exclusively praised Will of the Wisps, because any problems the gameplay, presentation, or story are so minuscule that they’re not worth noting. This game is fantastic, which is why I wish it didn’t have as technical issues as it does.
I don’t want to go on too long about minor stuff that will likely get patched out, but it is worth noting that I ran into a few bugs while playing. Audio errors in cutscenes were frequent, and there were a couple of times I was respawned in the wrong area. But neither of those problems are game-breaking, and they can be patched out.
No, the bigger problem in Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and one that can completely ruin your experience, are the softlocks. There are multiple parts of this game where you can accidentally lock yourself out of progressing. Sometimes, you can rewind the save to before you got softlocked, but other times your only option is to completely reset your save. While some of these softlocks are near the beginning of the game, others are in the penultimate area, meaning some players may have to replay the entire game just to see the ending. It goes without saying, this is unacceptable and needs to be fixed, which Moon Studios claims to be doing.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful and expertly designed game that any fan of 2D platformers or metroidvanias needs to play. But with the technical issues currently plaguing it, you may want to wait a couple of weeks for patches, because they can diminish your enjoyment of an otherwise near-perfect game.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is currently available on Xbox One systems and PC on either the Microsoft Store or Steam. You can also get the Xbox Game Pass (for the Xbox or PC) and get access to both Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps for as low as $5 a month for those that haven’t played either game.
Here’s What We Like
- Smooth gameplay
- Skills put to the test
- An intricate world to explore
- Beautiful presentation
And What We Don't
- Numerous technical issues
- Game-breaking softlocks