Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the follow-up entry to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, created by Moon Studios. The original game was praised for its unique and colourful art style, tight controls and Metroidvania style gameplay. Ori and the Blind Forest is a tough act to follow, so how does the sequel play in comparison? Ori and the Will of the Wisps brings the same high -quality gameplay, unique art style, and adds even more to the original’s winning formula. There are more characters, more abilities, more side quests. If you enjoyed the first game or enjoy a good Metroid style video game, you’re going to love Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
The first thing to note about Ori is that it is a Metroidvania style of game. There are many different areas to explore. The level design is what keeps the game so interesting. Many times over the game you’ll encounter a locked area which means you’ll have to explore the map to find abilities, items or objects to be destroyed in order for you to progress. The game now offers you a number of new abilities and you can now change the skill loadout on the fly, which differs from the first game where you had 5 skills. Now Ori and the Will of the Wisps offer 10 skills altogether. All of these skills can be upgraded as well. Along with these new skills, there are new passives that Ori can equip to suit your style of game. Some examples are the new sticky skill which helps Ori climb walls instead of sliding off them. And these new passives can be upgraded as well. True to the original formula and that of most Metroidvanias, there are many things to be collected such as the life and energy cells that make Ori able to withstand more damage or to use abilities more often.
The art and style of the original Ori and the Blind Forest were some of the most beautiful graphics of that year in 2015. The sequel brings the same art style from the previous game and adds even more life to its world. Ori is fantastically animated. Whether running, jumping or slaying monsters, it’s a lot of fun to watch the little critter fly across the screen. Each element of the background is wonderfully animated and leaves rustle as the wind blows or as rain pours from the skies. Flowers, trees and branches move as Ori runs by them. The backgrounds have multiple layers to them and add depth to each level the game throws at you. Each background has its own animations and makes the world of Ori and the Will of the Wisps seem vast for a 2D game. Moon Studios took extra care in crafting the world for this game.
As with the graphics, the sounds of the game help to bring the game to life. Whether Ori’s footsteps are echoing while exploring dark caverns or birds singing in the trees as Ori rushes through a forest, the sounds add to the game’s atmosphere. Each environment also has its own score to help tell its story. The music of the game really adds a cinematic feel to the experience. Although the tracks by themselves are not distinct as Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Mario, or other various fighting game themes, it gives each environment that you experience a distinct feel. There are no voiceovers as the story is told through text. Overall, the game’s soundscape is incredible, although it feels like a missed opportunity because the level themes or boss themes are not distinct, the game’s music creates adds to the game’s incredible art style.
If you’re heavily into video games for their art style, or heavily into metroidvanias, you will love Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It has a lot of replayability and a lot of items to collect as well as side quests which may justify the $40 price tag for you. If you’re not heavily into the genre and looking for a way into Metroidvanias, you might want to wait for a sale. Full disclosure, I played the game through Microsoft’s XBOX Live Gamepass for PC.