The long awaited Ori and the Will of the Wisps has finally released! But how good is the sequel? Well, not only does it bring back the charm of Ori and the Blind Forest, but it has more complex gameplay. I can say it certainly blew past my expectations. Before getting into the mechanics, I first want to talk about the music.
Moon Studios has really done a fantastic job at creating beautiful music that captures exactly what is going on and really makes the player feel what is happening. During chase scenes or boss fights you have really intense music pounding, and when you are in spooky areas you have equally spooky music haunting you. When scenes go from intense to calm, the soundtrack matches the transition perfectly. I think this is one of this game’s major qualities.
Developer Moon Studios also uses sound to give players information. I do not want to spoil anything about the game, but there is an area where sound is used to notify you of incoming doom – which you can avoid, if you react quickly. There is never a moment where a sound does not match what you see. The developers clearly pay a lot of attention to all the details when it comes to sound, and it really shows.
As for the visuals, Ori and The Will Of the Wisps is even more stunning than the first game. In many areas you can see how light creeps in from above the trees and just fills the area. Moon Studios gave their environments a lot more detail this time around. The backgrounds of many areas look like there are layers to them, which adds more depth to the scene.
There are many areas that have movements happening in the background for added effect. The difference between the foreground and background is even an important mechanic in some areas, as some enemies can switch from being in the background to the foreground and vice versa. The player can only injure enemies in the foreground, and this definitely creates interesting gameplay.
Now I’m going to talk about the mechanics of the game. First off, the sequel has customizable keybinds which Ori and the Blind Forest lacked. This gives players more control over their game. But what about Ori’s abilities? Moon Studios did keep many of the abilities from the original game, but they are implemented in different ways. The mechanics work so differently from Ori and the Blind Forest, that Ori and the Will of the Wisps feels like a completely different game.
One of the biggest changes is that there are now various NPCs in the game that offer Ori upgrades. He can upgrade abilities, buy maps, buy skills, and upgrade those skills – which means that your currency matters a lot more this time around. Players will want to hold off on buying some abilities so they can upgrade other; or they can spend it all to have access to many different abilities.
There are also other vendors, who take different forms of currency in exchange for services. This all caught me by surprise, personally. I just assumed this game would be exactly like the first.
Moon Studios has completely changed how Ori uses his abilities. Ori can only have three active abilities at any time, with each ability having its own key. Players can see all the abilities they have access to on their ability wheel, and can reassign their three active abilities at any time. You can even do it mid-combat, since pulling up the ability wheel pauses the game.
Ori’s skill tree is different as well. Gone are the three different branches he used to have. Instead, in Ori and the Will of the Wisps players use skill shards, and start with 3 open slots. Players can find additional skill shards throughout the game to increase how many skills Ori can equip. All these skills give Ori passive benefits, such as taking less damage, gaining additional energy cells, or having faster ranged attack speed to name a few.
The main storyline is no longer the only thing Ori can venture through. There are many side quests, challenge shrines, and racing shrines too. I found this surprising: I did not expect there to be side quests at all. They create more interaction with the inhabitants of the forest. Ori’s actions even have an effect on the forest, as the player can literally rebuild the peace that was once there!
Another new element in Ori and the Will of the Wisps are the boss fights. This is yet another thing I honestly did not expect, since there were none in Ori and the Blind Forest. Every boss fight was put together perfectly. They have various phases, and different mechanics based on their remaining health. The bosses even interact with the environment to change the area Ori is in, and they are not easy to beat.
Moon Studios knew players would want to replay the boss fights. So they have a new option called Quick Access on save files. Here players can replay the boss fights that they have already completed, so they can practice the fight, or even try to defeat the boss as quickly as possible! Whenever you start a boss fight here, there will be a timer on your screen. Luckily players will have access to all the abilities they have on their save file.
I have to say that Ori and the Will of the Wisps really blew past my expectations. Along with all these new mechanics, the difficulty was much higher as well. I played on normal and found the game to be extremely challenging. That’s not because the puzzles were hard, but because of the intensity of the enemies and boss fights.
Do not get me wrong though, the puzzles were nothing to laugh at either; I just had a lot more trouble dealing with enemies. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, and it made me even more determined to beat the game. Moon Studios really expanded on Ori’s world and made the game more engaging for players.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the perfect sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest. I can say it was well worth the almost three year wait!