Following up an indie darling like 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest is no easy feat. After five years, and a series of delays, Moon Studios is ready to take on the task of launching Ori and the Will of the Wisps. After the massive success of The Blind Forest, the developers were faced with the challenging tasks of recapturing the beautiful and heartbreaking look and feel of the original game, while building the world and mechanics with the larger sequel.
Fans of the original game will be excited to hear that the core cast of surviving characters from the Blind Forest are back and cuter than ever from the first moments of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Again, the game begins with a poignant prologue that introduces the central themes of family, teamwork, and friendship. The events that kick off this game’s adventure aren’t quite as devastating as the start of The Blind Forest, but don’t worry, there are sure to be some tearjerker moments as the game progresses.
Once the prologue ends and Ori’s adventure begins in earnest, players are thrown back into a familiar gameplay loop, but with some exciting new changes and a larger setting to explore. For players who skipped The Blind Forest, the game progresses in Metroidvania fashion with Ori platforming around a massive map and unlocking new abilities at key story points or after reaching other milestones. Players eventually unlock a series of warp points, so even though there’s the usual amount of Metroidvania backtracking, it rarely feels like a chore or obstacle.Ori and the Will of the Wisps Screenshot Wolf
In terms of what’s new, there’s a ton to consider. First, the game features an autosave, which may feel like a no-brainer, but it’s a huge change from The Blind Forest. The first game required players to use energy to save manually, which could lead to some real frustrations when energy was spent on something else or when players simply forgot to save after a long session, died, and lost a ton of progress. The whole pain point is removed and the autosave works perfectly. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of other abilities that require energy resource management, so that aspect hasn’t been completely removed from the game.
The first game’s talent tree system has also been replaced with a more interesting series of decisions. The first game featured three branching paths of abilities, but players will just want to get them all and have a ton of benefits. This time, players spend their resources to buy upgrades for abilities, but only a certain number of upgrades and abilities can be active at once. This means that players have to make difficult decisions on where to spend their limited resources and also which abilities and bonuses will be activated at different points in the game. For example, players can unlock the ability to cling to walls early on, but may want to trade that ability for a second or third attack ability instead during heavy combat points in the game. The ability to change abilities and bonuses at any point in the game adds a very interesting level of strategy that really makes the game feel like a more challenging and deeper experience.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is primarily driven by a linear narrative this time, but the game has added several side quests and an impressive cast of supporting characters to supplement the main story. As Ori ventures out into the Nibel forest, there are many other friendly creatures who want to help her on her quest and could use a little help themselves. Early on, there might be some concern that the additional characters, side quests, and dialogue might detract from the strong core narrative that made the first game so special, but it quickly becomes apparent that any interaction with the world helps drive Ori. closer to his goal, while also adding exciting new challenges for players to complete in places they will still visit.
We’ll avoid plot details and spoilers, but rest assured that the story in Will of the Wisps is as powerful, moving, and engaging as what Blind Forest players experienced in 2015. The game follows Ori’s quest to reunite with Ku, after The adorable adopted siblings are separated as Ku learns to fly during the prologue. All the friendly creatures in the game world come together to try to bring back the darkness and decay and help Ori, Ku, Naru, and Gumo reunite as a family.
The combination of the original game’s narrative charm and solid platforming mechanics with a longer story and more complex skill trees and bonuses combine to make a must-play game for Xbox One or PC owners . The game seems poised to be another massive hit and is proving itself to be one of Microsoft’s most exciting console exclusives (even though The Blind Forest is now available on Switch). The fact that the game is available on Game Pass on day one and also features cross save functionality with the PC version makes it more accessible and, although the rest of March is still full of other exciting -exciting game release, it’s definitely an early addition to the must-play list.
Note: In terms of performance, we had a few points where the game slowed down and some crashes, but these issues will likely be resolved on the first day of the patch.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps releases on March 11 for PC and Xbox One. Today Technology was provided a copy of the Xbox One for this review which features PC cross-save functionality. The review playthrough was completed partially on PC and partially on Xbox One.