Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the long-awaited sequel to the standout indie platformer, Ori and the Blind Forest, which originally released on the Xbox One and PC in 2015. Developed by Moon Studios, this quirky “Metroidvania” title follows Ori, a small sprite-like creature known as a light spirit on a journey to rescue their friend. Packed with plenty of content, fast-paced gameplay, and beautiful graphics, Ori and the Will of the Wisps stands out as a colorful and inventive adventure. That said, does this indie sequel provide enough new gameplay to make it stand out from its predecessor? Let’s find out if Ori and the Will of the Wisps is worth your time!
New Adventures on the Island of Niwen
In Ori and the Blind Forest, players hopped, flipped, and dashed their way through the deep and dangerous forest of Nible, reviving the woods with light and ridding it of hostile creatures. Towards the end of the game, Ori and their friends took in an orphaned owl egg, rescuing it from desperate conditions. At the beginning of Ori and the Will of the Wisps the egg hatches, birthing Ku, a cute and cuddly owlet. In the opening sequence of the game, Ori teaches Ku how to survive, slowly teaching her the skills needed for the world. As Ku ages, she eventually learns how to fly, despite having a broken wing. As Ori and Ku enjoy a brisk flight over the sea, the pair become caught in a terrible storm. Sent tumbling to the ground by the harsh winds and lightning, Ori and Ku become separated. As Ori awakens on the ominous island of Niwen, which seems drenched in darkness.
In addition to rescuing Ku and ensuring her safety, Ori must also help the inhabitants of Niwen rid their island of a dark plague known as Decay. Due to a lack of light, Niwen has become strangled by Decay, which sucks the life out of nearby nature, turning it to stone. Using their light spirit powers, Ori travels through the many areas of Niwen, gaining more abilities and battling a variety of enemy creatures. All along the way, Ori searches for information regarding Ku and any way to rescue her.
The Many Advantages and Upgrades in Ori and the Will of the Wisps
At the start of your journey, Ori has pretty limited power. At first, you’ll only be able to hop around, jump off walls, and attack enemies. The map of Niwen is entirely open, allowing you to explore any area that you can access. Unfortunately, due to Ori’s lackluster beginning abilities, you won’t be able to reach many places. In order to progress, you’ll need to find new abilities, upgrades, and skills that increase your mobility and movement options. In comparison to the first game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps gives you a lot of ways to upgrade and customize Ori’s abilities, adding in a selection of new features and mechanics.
In addition to your overall objective of rescuing Ku, there are a variety of side-quests and activities you can undertake on Niwen. Some activities involve tracking down specific items or exploring different areas, while others are simple combat challenges or time trials. These new features often reward you with upgrades or new skills, further strengthening Ori and expanding your arsenal of abilities. Some challenges might give you more energy or health, while others reward you with “light orbs”, which act as currency in Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
Light orbs can be used in a variety of ways, but are mostly spent on upgrades for Ori. When you find a new skill or ability, its power can be upgraded by visiting a specific merchant. You’ll want to pay attention to what upgrades are available, as certain abilities like the triple-jump have a big impact on how the game is played. It’s always a smart idea to save up light orbs and work towards a specific upgrade, as the most useful are often the most expensive. If you save up and spend correctly, you can become an absolute power-house of mobility and damage, speeding through levels and killing enemies with ease.
Shards of Skill
In addition to the abilities and skills you’ll gain while progressing through the story, players can give Ori some unique boosts and powers by equipping various “Spirit Shards”. Spirit Shards can be found hidden in the environment and can also be rewarded for completing certain quests and challenges, so you’ll amass a decent collection without too much extra work. You can also purchase Spirit Shards from a merchant, as well as upgrade their powers by spending light orbs. While the Spirit Shards might seem a bit weak at first, creating a set of shards that synergize well can have huge benefits for your gameplay style.
At the start of your adventure, you’ll only be able to equip three unique shards, but this amount quickly grows as you unlock new shard slots. Shards offer a good variety of powers, so you can select a set of shards that works in tandem with how you like to play. Although Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a fast-paced and aggressive game by nature, you can play it safer by equipping shards that bolster your health and defense. Alternatively, you can equip a shard that deflects melee damage, which encourages you to get up-close-and-personal. Generally speaking, Spirit Shards help you balance out Ori’s abilities in a way that feels customizable and consistently fun. I really enjoyed experimenting with different Spirit Shards and seeing how they affected my gameplay, which definitely improves the replayability of the game.
Final Thoughts on Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest was an exceptionally colorful and challenging platformer, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps continues that trend with even more content and quality. It throws players into a brand new land that’s ripe with environmental variety and excellent level design. With tons of new features and upgrade options, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an adventure that rewards players for experimenting and trying new things. As you traverse the dangerous island of Niwen, you might find it hard to track down every collectible and upgrade, which encourages players to return once they’ve obtained all abilities and try again. There’s a significant amount of replay-value to Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which makes its mid-tier price point even better.
If you’re a fan of the first Ori game, or you simply like Metroidvania games, you should definitely check out Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The game can be frustratingly challenging on occasion and the vibrant visuals might be too much for your system to handle, but these issues pale in comparison to the quality of the gameplay experience. For gamers who like fast-paced, difficult adventures with plenty of extra content and bonus challenges, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an alluring experience. While you might expect the intense action and gameplay, the surprising amount of heart and charm may catch you off-guard. Overall, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an inventive and beautiful adventure that consistently introduces new ideas and challenges, keeping things interesting every step of the way.
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