Ori and the Will of the Wisps Review
Moon Studios’ vibrant exploration into the MetroidVania genre continues with Ori’s new sidescrolling adventure, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Ori and the Blind Forest launched to critical acclaim in 2015, and is still one of the highest rated games on Steam with over 27,000 Overwhelmingly Positive reviews. Five years later and after numerous delays, Moon Studios once again return with the beloved characters and visuals from the original, but has the formula stood the test of time?
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Review
Players take on the role of an orphan Ori, a cutesy bunny-like animal glowing with charm and character. The Story begins in Swallows Nest, as Ori and his family welcome a new life to Nibel, a small owl named Ku. A brief but heartwarming time lapse sets the pace for Ori’s adventure, as Ku’s attempts to fly are hampered by a terrible storm, separating the friends and family alike. Ori sets out on a terrifying adventure to find his lost friend, along the way helping the denizens of the forests, deserts, and marshes he visits along the way.
Having very little experience with the original Ori and the Blind Forest, I was concerned the story would be difficult to follow. Although there are obvious ties between the characters and events from the original game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps as a standalone story is entirely digestible and continues to be one of the games most impressive feats. Experienced fans of the franchise and new players alike will find plenty to enjoy in arguably one of the most heartfelt stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an emotional journey of friendship, hardship, and triumph, as Ori and friends battle unseemly odds to find Ku and restore light to the forest – a once bright and beautiful landscape that has been ruined and pushed into darkness by the Decay. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is storytelling in its purest form, combining thought-provoking events with classic narrative delivery concepts that combine to create a heartwarming adventure full of charm and character.
Aiding with the delivery of a fantastically entertaining story is one of the best artistic directions seen in the genre. The world of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is brilliant. The visuals are incredible, the soundtrack can pull on your heartstrings one minute and pump out the adrenaline on the next. If for no other reason, this game should be experienced for the flawless visuals and phenomenal world building.
With such a warming story and genre-leading visuals, I’d almost expect other areas of the game to suffer, but that’s not the case with Ori and friends’ latest adventure. A sidescrolling platform game for the modern age, embracing physics and depth techniques to create a living, breathing world in a two dimensional space. The controls are intuitive, responsive, accurate, rarely did I find frustration in missing that pixel-perfect jump or using the wrong ability at the wrong time.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps evolves steadily throughout the adventure, always serving up new challenges and fresh mechanics to ensure the gameplay remains fun, rewarding, and fresh throughout. Boss battle mechanics are challenging but never overpowering, there are plenty of collectibles and rewards for exploration, and new abilities are delivered at a great pace – providing new tools and opportunities to respond to the games increasingly challenging puzzles, platforming, and battles.
Sidescrolling platformers are often limited by design, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps embraces the genre with open arms. One moment you’re navigating challenging terrain, combining various skills to avoid hazards and reach your objective. The next you’re being chased by a giant wolf, where a single misstep means certain death. It’s constantly evolving, providing a challenging and refreshing approach that constantly leaves you guessing: what’s next?
Just note that it’s a relatively short experience. The main story can be completed in around the 8-10 hour mark, with some additional hours available for those wanting to dive into the wealth of side content. There’s plenty of emotionally driven side quests to further immerse yourself in the world, items that can be found, secrets to be discovered. All in all, I was at about 14 hours after completing all of the content available.
One side quest in particular will be one I hold dear for many years. A father Moki, cute little bunny-like creatures, traversed great distance to find a safe home for his family. With the help of the forest creatures of the Glade, you build a home for him and his family – as his family remains stuck in the Decay. When you arrive to tell the family of the good news, you’re too late, the brave Moki’s family was turned to stone by the decay. Upon hearing the news the father returns home, joining his family in their eternal demise. In a game that puts so much time, so much investment in capturing your heart, moments like this hit you like your Monday morning coffee.
I played through the entirety of the game on the PC and suffered very few problems. Some minor freezes happened once or twice and an audio problem in one area was a bit of a pain, but restarting the client solved the issue. Another editor has been playing on Xbox One and warns the performance is struggling – best to investigate if you plan on playing the game on console.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a game of passion, made from the heart. Featuring charming characters, a vibrant world filled with mystery and intrigue, and genre-leading platforming action, you will struggle to find a single experience that encompasses the artistic values of video games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps.