Ori and the Will of the Wisps game review – a visually mesmerizing world brimming with possibilities

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a platform-adventure Metroidvania video game developed by Moon Studios and released by Xbox Game Studios for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows, and Iam8bit for Nintendo Switch. The game is a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest (2015), and the developers announced it in 2017. The gameplay puts discovery, collectibles, and upgrades to the forefront. It centers around Ori, a bright spirit who has to solve perplexing puzzles.

The gameplay centers around Ori, a light spirit solving perplexing puzzles and exploring an exotic world. Its visuals are a thorough overhaul of the first entry in the series, being turned into 3D models with a multilayer background. On the other side, The Will of the Wisps continues the Blind Forest narrative directly.

The original entry was a success across all aspects, and the players were eager to get more from the story and Ori. Hence, the developers ensured the new game doesn’t disrupt the previous one and that it resembles the Super Mario Bros. 3-Super Mario Bros structure relationship.

Blind Forest was inspired by a 2D artwork. The game finished the story with Sein, the Spirit Tree entity, who returned to Nibel’s Tree and gave Ori new battle abilities. As a result, the team received a task to discover a novel kind of melee-center combat with projectile-aiming elements.

The Will of the Wisps development had various impressive members join the team to make the game seamless and well integrated. Some of them were the artist Jeremy Gritton (Blizzard Entertainment), developer Milton Guasti (AM2R), and the Blind Forest soundtrack composer Gareth Coker.

Hence, the team grew by 60 members compared to the original game, but due to the scope and complexity of Metroidvania, there were still delays. But despite the obstacles, Ori and the Will of the Wisps received favorable critics, and it had 2.8 million players by mid-November 2020.

It is no surprise that the Will of the Wisps shares second place with The Last of Us: Part II and Hades and Half-Life: Alyx concerning the title of the highest-rated games of 2020. Thanks to that, this entry was praised for phenomenal mechanics, graphics, and combat. Some reviewers went as far as calling it a masterpiece.

Ultimately, the Will of the Wisps had various nominations, including Best Visual Design. The game won the Xbox Game of the Year and Outstanding Art Direction, Fantasy, and other titles.

But besides its awards and praises, is Ori and the Will of the Wisps as good as the original?

Here are our thoughts!

Rich in content, colors, and possibilities

The world of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is mesmerizing. It is massive, colorful, unique, and soothing. It takes you back to the familiar story by giving you the role of Ori, the guardian spirit, and tasking you to find and save your friend Ku. However, things get complicated, and her mission becomes more critical because she has to bring the light back into the Niwen forest.

Even though the premise might not sound novel nor ground-breaking, what makes it different is the way it’s told. The game intertwines adorable characters, impressive animations, and emotional soundtrack. Thanks to that, it evokes profound emotional investment and adds dreamy layers to the narrative.

The Will of the Wisps is an example of the Metroidvania genre done right. It will have you exploring a sprawling realm that divides into sections with distinct environments and unlocking skills to take various puzzles and fight the enemies.

Many abilities are the same as in the first entry. Yet, there are also new ones that will keep you entertained and amazed. For instance, the burrow skills let you quickly blast out from within sand (although when softer only). On the other side, Bash allows shooting off Ori and utilizing enemies as a projectile while the game slowly pauses.

Throughout the game, you always feel that you’re continuously exploring and discovering something new and wonderful. Hence, the Will of the Wisps is challenging, creative, and surprising at all times, never ceasing to amaze with possibilities. Plus, this entry adds the auto-save function, whose lack was often frustrating in the original.

On the other side, combat doesn’t feel as engaging as in the previous entry. But the Will of the Wisps does offer various battle options that are thrilling to use. For example, you can start using a sword that later expands and adds the Spirit Arc with an attack that combines bow and arrow.

Therefore, although the mechanics win in Blind Forest, this entry wins concerning combat variety. But it doesn’t stop with battle options possibilities. It is the movement that genuinely makes the Will of the Wisps feel superior compared to other games in the genre.

When playing Ori, you will always feel impressive control, no matter how fast this cute, tiny critter is. The moves feel smooth, effortless, and agile, allowing a stellar performance that pulls you even deeper into this vivid world.

Hence, from mechanics to visuals, everything seems to work well in the Will of the Wisps. More than anything, its colorful realm is astonishing and brimming with variety, areas to explore, and things to do.

It is safe to say that this entry might be one of the most impressive Metroidvania games ever. Undoubtedly, it does feel slightly superior to Blind Forest, although it succeeds in keeping its essence.

An improvement across all aspects

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an improvement across all aspects comparing to Blind Forest, even though both games are stunning and offer a magnificent world.

But this entry delivers an emotional depth that manifests in all the details, from visuals to soundtrack. Thanks to that, the Will of the Wisps is a stellar sequel that respects the identity of the original while adding its own flair to it.

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