Ori and the Will of the Wisps - Review
It's been about five years since Moon Studios released a stunning action-platformer that captured the heart, and tears, of many fans. However, in that time, the team honed their skills and released yet another gorgeous, heart-wrenching tale that had me smiling from ear-to-ear practically the entire time and left completely devastated in others. Ori and the Will of the Wisps take everything that worked in the first installment and enhances it in all the right ways and adds in a plethora of exciting new features that open up both its world and combat in a meaningful and brilliant way. Besides that, everything that didn't work in the past installment is gone and out of sight.
The game is at its absolute best when you're moving at lightning speed, chaining together exceptionally flashy — yet very challenging — jumps and dashes to progress to secret areas or the next story beat. The adrenaline-pumping sequences that have you escaping from environmental hazards or giant monsters where you have to hoof it and figure out what to do in a split-second panic are some of the most intense moments in the game outside of the actual boss fights, and there's plenty of both! The world is fully realized with characters, collectibles, secrets, and even a small hub town that you can build out, pick up side-quests, and even upgrade Ori. Obviously, all of this is helped brought to life with the beautiful art direction, animations, music, and charm. The depth of the world and characters of Ori and the Will of the Wisps left me in awe countless times. You can tell from the moment the game starts, this is truly something special and worthy of your time.
Aside from the heart-pounding platforming moments, the game has a very fun and engaging combat system that shouldn't go ignored. You can equip up to three abilities to use at a time, these can be things ranging from a sword for a quick melee attack, a bow for ranged play, a hammer for slow but hard-hitting blows, and even fire to set your enemies ablaze! All of them feel unique and fit a very different play style. Match these with the new "Skills" system, and you can really start seeing how you can mess with this game and bend it to your preferred playstyle. Do you want to do a bunch of damage at the risk of also receiving more damage as well? Then the hammer ability paired with the "Reckless" skill is right up your alley! Want to play it safe and from a distance? Then the bow and sentry are the way to go! This combat is open to so, so many possibilities and really makes you appreciate how much time and effort was put into making it so fun and open. The number of skills and abilities in the game for you to mix and match are plentiful. There's a playstyle for practically everything in there if you're willing to dive into everything the game has to offer. The enemy design is also very fun, challenging, and refreshing. They all have very creative designs, and attack patterns, that help flesh them out in the world and help you learn them so you can eventually defeat them almost effortlessly. There's also a ton of intense moments here that I won't spoil, but every boss fight is unique and thrilling.
However, when everything isn't going smoothly, the game has some technical issues that took me out of the game quite a few times to go unnoticed. I've had things from my console completely shutting down at the splash screen (twice), to frame rate issues, to the game feeling unresponsive during hectic moments when there are loads of things happening on the screen. There are also a few moments where something would straight up insta-kill me for no reason other than what felt like a giant "-bleep- you!" from the game. It should be noted, though, that these issues weren't super common, and the game ran pretty well for the vast majority of my time with it. But when they appeared, it would totally derail things in an interesting, but very frustrating, way.
What the team over at Moon Studios created here is something astonishing. The visuals, music, and charm of this game are phenomenal in every sense of the word. This is a very special experience, and I loved every second of my time with it. Although it has some shortcomings on the technical side of things, everything else is implemented in aces and it shows. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a great tale with a lot of heart and emotion. It's truly an experience worthy of your time and effort.