My Ori and the Will of the Wisps Review
It has been 5 years since I had the privilege to play Ori and the Blind Forrest on the Xbox One. Ori was a simple seeming 2D Metroidvania style plat-former with lush and gorgeous visuals, a rich sound track and some of the tightest and best controls of a modern console game. Ori and the Blind Forrest ended up being one of my 2 favorite games of this generation (along with Cuphead) and when its sequel was announced a few years ago I was understandably excited and thrilled. Like the first game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps was subject to a few delays and came out a year after its projected launch time frame of 2019. I was able to play this very anticipated sequel thanks to Game Pass and I might still end up buying a physical copy of it as well. I have just finished playing through the story of Ori and the Will of the Wisps and I would like to put into words my opinion of this game in the form of a review of sorts and as such, here it is.
The Look of the game
Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the best looking games I had seen this generation. The hand crafted world drew a great contrast to the procedurally generated games that were becoming more common at the time. Ori was a game that I showed to my friends as a visual statement of the Xbox One. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a game seems to take that look and amplify it in every way. This game incorporates the Xbox One X enhancements with support for both 4K and HDR. Ori 2 seems to jam a larger map with an even higher density of detail that makes every scene look like a painting that one could easily justify hanging on a wall. The visuals are more than just surface level. There is an impressive amount of back drop flourish and parallax scrolling as well, giving the game a rich 3 dimensional look. Background scenery often becomes destinations the deeper you go in exploring the world. As with the first game there is a large variety of location each with its own drastically different aesthetic. These locals range from wind swept deserts to ice covered mountains and from dark murky swamps to tropical lagoons. Like in the first game, Ori (being small in size) can sometimes be easily lost in the heavily detailed back ground when the action gets frantic but it usually is not a problem. Overall, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is just a joy to behold. The sound track is equally effective at being somber, haunting and even joyful at time depending on the level or the beat of the story. If there was a Vinyl of the sound track I might actually get it.
The Feel of the game
For the most part, Ori and the will of the Wisps maintains the tight fluid controls of the first game. There are only a few instances in which the demands of the game overly taxed my ability to do the things I needed to do (look out for a certain escape sequence that seems overly difficult). Ori 2 features a more involved combat system that uses 3 of the 4 face buttons to map a variety of assignable attacks and abilities. These buttons can be mapped quickly with holding down left trigger and hitting X, Y, or B. The combat is less button mashy and automated and more timing based requiring observing the enemies and hitting them at the accordingly. There is a light and heavy melee attack as well as different energy using ranged attacks that also double as puzzle solving and plat-forming abilities. It does not take long to get the double jump (there is also a triple) and you steadily acquire more exploration based abilities as you go through the story. As with the first game, Ori 2 is at its best when exploring a new area as you on the fly try to reach higher, lower or more out of reach places with your new abilities. Simply navigating the world in a active way is the point of this game. Platforming in Ori 2 is an engaging experience and that is when the tightness of the controls really shine. This game just feels really good to play, for the most part. There are some technically and performance issues that can rear their head in at unfortunate times. I am not sensitive to slow downs but there were times that that the game hitched for a couple of seconds that seemed somewhat irregular. I also had the game crash to the point where the Xbox Shut off completely when booting the game up. This was a problem for me with the first game as well (on my launch model Xbox One, now I am using a Xbox One X). I never found the technical issues to be much of a problem but then again I am not sensitive to most such issues.
The Mechanics of the game
The biggest change to Ori and the Will of the Wisps is in the mechanics where the first game played like a very basic Metroidvania this is a much more expanded game with more story, more characters and more mission variety. As you explore you run into a number of NPCs that either give side quest or act as merchants to buy and upgrade abilities. You can enhance you abilities and add new ones by purchasing (or finding) shards that can be further upgrade. You start off with only being able to equip 3 such shards but you can increase that number by completing combat shrines. As in the first game mission critical moves can be found as glowing orbs in the trunks of trees that are closely associated with the regions they are located in (in a very Zelda dungeon item like way) You can also buy new combat moves that can be mapped to the face buttons and those too can be upgraded. You can buy maps from another vendor that fill in areas you have yet to explore fully. There are also a couple of characters who can change the state of the world when enough material is collected and that can open up new side quests as well as give access to more areas. You still collect blue and green orbs to increase you health and energy (in the form of fragments) and you still collect yellow orbs but this time it is used as currency for vendors instead of XP for upgrading. Ori 2 also replaces the hard manual save system form the first game with a fairly generous auto save system.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is worth buying and playing. If you have an Xbox One or a PC you should get this game. If you have Game Pass there is no excuse not to play it. Ori 2 takes one of the best 2D Plat-formers of this generation and makes it better in almost every way. I strongly urge everyone to give this awesome game a go.