First Impressions – Ori and the Will of the Wisps

A couple months ago while browsing the Switch eShop, I decided to finally download Ori and the Blind Forest and try it out after hearing others say how much they love the game. I knew of the game, but not so much what type of game it was – a metroidvania-type adventure game with some of the most beautiful visuals and soundtrack I’ve experienced in a game. I recently mentioned the game in a post listing some of my favorite metroidvania titles, the game featured some well designed levels, along with wonderful visuals, celestial score, and prologue that packs an emotional punch rivaling that of a Pixar movie. For everything that was great about the game, I wasn’t crazy about the attacks that felt woefully underpowered and the feather-light movements in the game made jumping with any kind of precision greatly difficult(*this may have been a combination of a personal preference of a little more hefty jump weight and the fact I was playing primarily in handheld mode on my Switch…those short little joysticks!). The issues I faced with the original game made the impending release of Moon Studio’s sequel – Ori and the Will of the Wisps even more intriguing; many brand new IPs will get even better with the next game in the series as developers have had a longer time to evaluate and adjust game mechanics. Ori and the Will of the Wisps was released this past Wednesday as was available immediately for Xbox Game Pass users, having recently begun using Game Pass Ulitmate on my Xbox One X, I was pretty excited to give the game a try. Here are some of my initial impressions of Ori and the Will of the Wisps…

The second time around…

The team at Moon Studios has done a great job in fine tuning and adjusting gameplay mechanics and controls in Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Gone are the soul links that you have have to remember and place every couple minutes out of fear of having to re-do significant chunks of gameplay due to the games moderately steep gameplay difficulty. Will of the Wisps has simplified this element by simply using an autosave feature, meaning when you aren’t punished quite as severely when you don’t time a jump perfectly and land on a thicket of thorn bushes, resulting in a instant death. The game controls feel just as you remember them, but I felt the jump weight had been improved a little bit. There’s still the light, floaty feeling while traversing through platforming sections located in the woods of Niwen, but it feels as if it’s been improved just enough to not be constantly over-shooting your landing. You’re also able to cling to glowing blue forest moss as you hand-over-hand climb over gaps and other obstacles á la Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

The main combat in the first Ori game I personally felt was good, but could have been a little better. In Will of the Wisps, you now have a plethora of weapons and attacks you can acquire, such as a light sword or a bow and light arrows(the most recent addition to my repetoire). This gives the combat a similar feeling to rogue-lite games like Dead Cells which I quite enjoy. You can also collect a number of different perks, allowing you to interchange different abilities similar to Hollow Knight.

Same feels…

Ori and the Will of the Wisps begins shortly after the conclusion of the first game with the birth of Ku, who hatches from the last egg of Kuro’s nest(the scary owl villain in the game). The opening sequence shows Ori, Naru, and Gumo taking in the baby owl to live with them in the forest of Nibel. Ku has been born with a damaged wing(similar to Nemo in Finding Nemo) and is unable to fly. Ori retrieves one of Kuro’s giant feathers which they tie to Ku’s wing, allowing her to take to the skies. One fateful flight however, finds Ku and Ori soaring through the trees as a storm begins brewing. Kuro’s feather is knocked from Ku’s impaired wing and sends the two plummeting down to the forest below. Ori is separated from Ku in their descent and begins a journey through the woods of Niwen to reunite before coming across the Moki, a tribe of small meerkat-like creatures who offer to assist Ori in finding Ku. The animations in Ori and the Will of the Wisps are among the most beautiful animations I’ve seen in a game. The visuals are so fluid and vibrant colors provide an aboslutely gorgeous game. In addition to the colorful environments, the game’s hauntingly beautiful score provides an emotive atmosphere to a game that can be both heart-wrenching and downright terrifying. Very early on in the game, Ori is chased by the giant ravenous wolf – Howl. You must quickly make your way over a skeletal bridge of some unlucky creature’s spine before being cornered and must face the bloodthirsty beast. Your only weapon, the first given in the game is a torch lying near a small campfire. The first boss battle you are thrust into is fighting off Howl armed with only a torch. This marked just one of presumably many moments, if anything like the previous game that proved intense and exhilarating.

Ori and the Blind Forest proved to be a magical game that had the unique ability to make me smile, shriek in terror, and cry all within the same gameplay session. I have only invested a few hours into Will of the Wisps, but I already feel this game is everything the previous game was, and then some. As foolish as it may be to begin predicting games that will end up on my end of the year favorites list, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has the makings of Game of the Year for me, it’s that damn good.

If you’ve played Will of the Wisps yet, what do you think of it so far? What are some games that you’re still looking forward to spending some more time on? Let me know. Thanks for reading!

9 thoughts on “First Impressions – Ori and the Will of the Wisps

  1. I need to get around to finishing Blind Forest – I’ve gotten frustrated a few times with having to redo sections, but it really is a beautiful game and I look forward to playing Will of the Wisps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great game, I’m really liking the changes to weapons and save systems. The decade has gotten off to a start, gaming-wise at least…I’ve heard nothing but praise for games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Nioh 2, Doom: Eternal, and Animal Crossing New Horizons.

      Liked by 1 person

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