Moon Studios’ sequel to their action-platformer, Ori and the Blind Forest, continues to raise the bar throughout its fifteen-hour duration, excelling in combat, story and art direction. Ori and the Will of the Wisps carefully weaves the heartfelt story of a tiny spirit and its owlet friend into an emotional journey that whisks you through the deepest reaches of a mysterious forest. Teeming with puzzles, hidden areas and side quests, there’s plenty to do to keep you playing – and you’ll certainly want to.
Starting off without any abilities, you’re placed in the middle of a large map and left to explore. Interacting with the creatures that reside in the grassy nooks of Inkwater Marsh, you begin to learn more about your mystical surroundings. Acquiring abilities from glowing trees, and locating Spirit Shards in the world, Ori’s arsenal evolves. As you navigate each new area (and later backtrack in true Metroidvania fashion) you develop your combat style, balancing your health and energy to face enemies head-on and defeat bosses. While the combat is challenging to adjust to at first, mastering it feels incredibly rewarding.
Visually, this game is one of the best looking platformers I have ever played. Thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere system, I could seamlessly transfer my save from PC to Xbox. Half of my playthrough was completed on my PC, with the other half taking place using an Xbox One X. The PC version of the game runs perfectly without any issues whatsoever. I played the game at 120hz on an ultrawide monitor, both of which were no problem for Ori. On the Xbox One X however, I suffered from a number of performance issues like the frame rate suddenly dropping in half in a few demanding areas. Though this was annoying at times, I would still recommend playing the game if you only have an Xbox.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps wasn’t on my radar thanks to the other major releases on the horizon, but I’m so impressed by it that I just want to tell everyone about it, now. Every boss fight has been meticulously crafted to make for exhilarating sequences that put your knowledge of your abilities, and quick reactions, to the test. Backtracking feels worthwhile as Moon Studios utilise space well, introducing new mechanics that later open up areas that were previously out of reach. Ori’s story will no doubt tug at your heartstrings, too. Whether you’re a loyal fan of Ori and the Blind Forest, or have never ventured into this world before, pick up Ori and the Will of the Wisps now. You won’t regret it.