Ori and the Will of the Wisps (PC) Review

By Ben Clarke 19.03.2020 8

Review for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC

The sequel to 2015's critically praised Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps aims to go beyond its predecessor by introducing a bigger world, more characters, and even more abilities for Ori to mess around with - but does all of this come at a price? A lack of focus or direction? Or does it truly triumph as one of the best games of this generation?

At its core, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is more of the same. The player controls Ori, a small and nimble creature, as they traverse through an open-ended Metroid-style world, with a beautifully hand-crafted art style, heart-wrenching story narrative, and most prevalent, expertly designed areas to explore. Perhaps 'same' isn't the most appropriate word to use, as some of these aspects have been greatly expanded to provide more substance, and to become more realised than what was previously possible. The visuals, for example, have been greatly enhanced and are truly a sight to behold, so much so that every frame of this game would make for a suitable wallpaper - it seriously looks that good. The varying uses of contrast to create scenic, beautiful landscapes, and dystopian, lifeless lands, on top of the excellent use of lighting to emphasise the inner beauty of these worlds, stands as one the most ingeniously developed and attractive art styles of recent times.

As well as feeling agile, Ori is an incredibly capable being, gaining access to many new abilities across this 10-hour or so adventure. It's this that transforms this title from a regular metroidvania into a league of its own, as these special powers change the experience entirely, both figuratively, and literally. These can range from a simple double jump, to the inventive 'bash' ability, using both projectiles and enemies to propel Ori into the player's given direction. Though many of these abilities are returning from the last entry, there are also a handful of new ones to incorporate into Ori's already diverse move set.

From a new grappling hook that let's Ori latch onto many specified surfaces, to the Drill ability akin to Sonic Colours Drill Wisp power-up, granting the power to gracefully swim through both sand and snow alike. While these new additions serve as excellent tools for traversing the new world of Niwel, there are a handful of them that prove to be fairly situational, only requiring their uses for a particular area on the map before it's over and done with. In this sense, it works like a new item would in a Legend of Zelda title, having focused puzzles based on a particular ability. This works well when those abilities are needed, but there isn't much of a reason to use them after the fact, rendering them almost obsolete.

Screenshot for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC

It's with this where Ori and the Will of the Wisps falters slightly, losing a sense of realism and... "naturality" to this world, with clear-cut context-sensitive surfaces and access points, essentially gamifying the experience for the sake of clarity and more focused, graspable puzzles. This doesn't ruin the experience, as the puzzles are still intricate and well-thought out, and navigating this world is immensely satisfying to pull off, but more nuance and openness with these abilities could have helped this experience become even more immersive than it already is.

Perhaps allowing the Drill ability to be usable on any given surface in the world, rather than just sand and snow, giving more options as to how Ori can traverse through previous areas. This would require a lot of balancing work, possibly giving Ori a meter as to how long they can drill for as to not break the whole game, or hiding even more dangers inside these surfaces so the player can't simply skip all of the obstacles in a given area. When it comes down to it, this is a minor issue, as the decision for more focused puzzles isn't a bad one - it's just that these throwaway abilities could've been given more uses in the world to allow for a more cohesive and natural experience.

With all of this said, Ori is still an absolute joy to control, pulling off insane moves that all flow with one another, creating one of the best controlling characters of a 2D platformer to date. Combine this with some well-rounded and inventive level design that truly puts Ori to the test, and what's left is simply a fantastic puzzle and action-platformer. Throughout these levels are a wide variety of enemies to fight with Ori's new fighting move set, from a swinging sword of light to a heavy axe that's slow but deals a hefty amount of damage on these foes. It's not ground-breaking combat by any means, but it doesn't necessarily need to be as it is still fun, involved, and varied enough to be a significant improvement over the previous instalment.

Screenshot for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC

Adding to this adrenaline rush are the new bosses, displaying a newfound sense of scale that adds to the danger of Niwel, proving to be tough but fair fights that feel gratifying to complete, especially when these creatures are so much larger in size as compared to Ori. All of this is accompanied by a sweeping, fully orchestral soundtrack, portraying emotions of sadness and empathy to triumph and turbulence, proving to be one of the game's biggest highlights, it's truly magnificent. The music also goes hand in hand with the beautifully told story of the game, which while doesn't reach the same heights of the original, still provides many emotional and impactful moments that'll be sure to stick with the player.

It tells a tale of its own, one of community and growth, which is emphasised further by the new cast of characters of this world. These range from a race of cat-like creatures called Moki, to a giant, all-knowing frog that will occasionally lead the way for Ori throughout their adventure. Though these NPCs help to liven up the world, some of them are repeated for almost all the areas in the game which comes across as jarring. It would've helped differentiate these areas and provide more context to Niwel if each area had their own race of creatures, or at the very least differing variations of the already existing ones, rather than reusing the same set of characters in almost every instance.

It's these set of characters that open many opportunities for Ori, including the purchase of new maps and upgrades that you can equip, all through the use of spirit light found in the world, and upon defeating enemies. This isn't the only way to get new upgrades, however, as magical shards can be found throughout Niwel to help enhance Ori's abilities even more. These range from minor upgrades such as taking 10% less damage, to a new triple jump that helps navigation even further. While a limited amount of these can be set at a time, these slots can be upgraded through special combat challenges that are located throughout the world. The great thing about this feature is that it makes the experience unique to each player, mixing and matching different abilities that accommodate the needs of the player at any given time. This gives the game a level of replay value to it, letting players test each combination of abilities at their will.

Screenshot for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC

Another key component of the original Ori were the escape sequences, enacting grandiose, large scale chases that have Ori fearlessly running away from such threats as giant floods and burning lava pools. These were the highlights of the original game, helping to put Ori's newly discovered abilities to great use, utilising the full potential of these powerful moves, and while these sequences do make a welcome return, they're not as impactful or memorable this time around. The events feel smaller in scale and are much, much easier, barely ever posing as a legitimate challenge right until the near end of the game.

These are not particularly bad, and they were still fun to speed through, but more diversity and depth to these climactic events would have helped to make them stand out more. While these escape sequences don't showcase much of a challenge, it's the rest of the game where the level design truly shines, proving to be the biggest highlight of the entire experience. The fluidity of motion as the player finds themselves speeding through these excellently designed areas is always what kept the experience fresh, with seemingly impossible obstacle courses becoming a breeze once the right tools are learned and executed in a timely fashion.

The only real downside to all of this is the lack of dungeons, with overworld areas mostly acting as dungeons in of themselves, so it often felt anti-climactic when reaching the peak of a particular area only to find out that that was it. The number of dungeons present is comparable to the original Ori, but seeing as this is a sequel that aims to improve upon the downfalls of the original, seeing more of these enjoyable dungeons would've helped the experience feel more complete. Despite of this, what is here is phenomenal stuff, being incredibly immersive from start to finish and highlighting the outstanding talents over at Moon Studios.

Screenshot for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Ori and the Will of the Wisps definitely has its downfalls, from a lack of dungeons and performance hiccups to abilities that needed to be fleshed-out more, but comparing this to all of the amazing feats that it reaches, these gripes feel nothing more than nit-picks in an otherwise wholly enjoyable and immersive experience. While it may not meet every expectation set by the almost perfect Ori and the Blind Forest, it's nonetheless a worthy successor and is easily one of the best metroidvanias on the market right now.

Developer

Moon Studios

Publisher

Xbox Game Studios

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Would this be a good game for someone not that good at games to try to get them into it?

It is quite difficult I've gotta say, but there's an easy option from the very start if you want to try it! Not only that, but the mechanics are pretty easy to get into, it's all about adapting to them, but I would definitely recommend giving it a shot, I think you'd manage just fine and there's a phenomenal experience in here!

I'm still sinking a lot of time into the Switch version of Ori - absolutely loving it! Not quite as much as Hollow Knight, but it's a close second in terms of addictive nature. Really hoping to eventually get this one on Switch.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

The original is phenomenal, glad you're enjoying it. 🙏 Haven't picked up Hollow Knight yet but I've heard great things about it!

Ben, seriously, I cannot recommend it enough. I'm desperate for the team to release Silksong. It's one of my most wanted of 2020!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Yeah, Hollow Knight is phenomenal.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Then I'll definitely get right on it soon, guys! Thanks for the recommendation Smilie

Get Hollow Knight, although it is on sale quite often so perhaps wait a bit?

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