Ori and the Will of the Wisps (“Will of the Wisps”) is a sequel to 2015’s smash hit, Ori and the Blind Forest. Given that it’s been five years since the original game released, can team Moon Studios knock it out of the park again? Well, quite frankly, yes they can.
Will of the Wisps is a beautiful 2D metroidvania with an amazing score. For the uninformed, metroidvania comes from the names of two games that pioneered this particular style of games; Nintendo’s Metroid and Konami’s Castlevania. A metroidvania is usually a game that is set in a somewhat open world, where in order to travel all around the map, some places might need certain power-ups or upgrades in order for you to get there.
Will of the Wisps continues where the first game left off. You, playing as titular character, Ori, go on an adventure with adorable baby owl, Ku. As you can no doubt guess, something goes wrong, which splits Ori and Ku up, and it falls upon you to save Ku and push back the mysterious growing darkness. Thus the game begins.
If you’ve played the previous Ori game, Will of the Wisps is not going to surprise you in any way. And is that a bad thing? Most of the time, not really. If you’ve already found a fantastic formula, with many critics rating Ori and the Blind Forest 10/10, why change anything? Aside from, obviously, a completely different story, a couple of changes to skills and some minor quality of life improvements, you are just playing Ori and the Blind Forest 2.
The visuals in this game are absolutely stunning and this is amplified by the amazing soundtrack. Each of five or so main areas of the game are all clearly set apart by their own landscape and fantastic use of colours. As mentioned, the soundtrack for each scene and area in the game fits to a ‘T’, so much so that when I was having audio issues streaming this game (not the game’s fault), I loaded up the soundtrack and played the song for the area I was in on loop. Nobody in the audience even noticed until I reached a different biome and I paused to chat.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about Will of the Wisps is its accessibility to all types of players. Relatively new to games? You’ve got yourself a pretty chill platformer. Set the difficulty to easy, follow the directions on the map and off you go. Love puzzles and are a veteran to platformers? Try and find every secret, explore the whole map, try out the speed run challenges and the combat arenas. Will of the Wisps likes to reward players for thinking outside the box, and with the different number of skills that you can get at different stages of the game, you’ll find yourself looking at an item just off screen, thinking “Using my current skills, how will I grab that?”.Maybe you’ll bait an enemy into shooting at you and use a special move to jump off the projectile, or, perhaps you’ll come back once you have another ability and get it a completely different way.
It’s worth noting that I did have a couple of performance issues when playing the game during the early access period. Backgrounds would sometimes look weird, the game would stutter or lag once in a way, and I did get stuck in a wall at one point. However, Moon Studios have released a patch that fixes many of these minor issues.
While Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not making any new leaps and bounds, the charm and beauty of the original game still shine brightly through its successor. Will of the Wisps’ ‘easy to play but hard to master’ style offers something for everyone which is a nice touch. The game comes to a nice end around the ten hour mark, assuming you hunted most of the secrets in the game, and with this title being free on Xbox Game Pass it’s definitely a title you should check out.