5 Years later, and Ori is back. Moon Studios, with the help of Xbox Game Studios, have brought back to life the spirit of the forest with ‘Ori And The Will Of The Wisps’. I love games I can just get lost in, ones that feel like they have a driving purpose to push through right to the end. Invested; I like to be invested in the tale unfolding before my eyes. Ori is that sort of beautiful story.
This tale opens up with Ori, our little spirit hero, nursing his baby owlet friend, Ku. Ku, unable to develop feathers for flight, is assisted by the ever resourceful Ori and off they fly together, embracing their new found freedom. Ori no stranger to trouble, is caught in a terrible storm, hurling both his friend and himself into separate locations; locations of darkness, locations full of peril and locations far, far away from home. With dangerous tasks and foes ahead of him and missing his friend, Ori must traverse the many dangerous areas spread out in front of him. A tale dripping in suspense, childlike wonder and adorable characters that all you can do is gush over. I was captivated by the destiny of Ori as it unfolded.
This title is very much a platformer that relies on environmental puzzle solving and mini quests to progress. But don’t underestimate this platformer as it is so rich with complexity and design ingenuity. Yes, it has your typical elements of jumping, hanging and climbing, but like layers of a cake it slowly reveals the goodness inside. Along the way, you can collect and buy from vendors weapons and abilities from light blades, bows to healing and fire balls, enemy creatures can be knocked off and you can even heal yourself on the run. Collecting and banking these is imperative as many areas are locked until you acquire certain skills to reach them meaning many mini quests and objectives may sit on your map for sometime. This may seem annoying but with so many areas to explore there is always something to be done or discovered.
Speaking of enemies, which might I add are beautifully vibrant and detailed, each release 3 colours of orbs after being satisfyingly defeated. These can be used in different ways; yellow for currency, blue for energy and green to replenish your health, all useful in their own circumstances. Picking up Spirit Shards as you go, these passives give to you perks for battle. Whether it be extra damage or merely making your life easier by extending the distance orbs float towards you, it’s up to you to customise your play.
One of the main inclusions we can rejoice over is the different saving to the previous title. Thankfully, Moon Studios this time round have included auto saving, something I’m sure the masses are happy about, with manual saving a glaring issue I had with ‘Ori And The Blind Forest’. While this game is challenging at times, I will admit it is so smooth and the fact you can combo and utilise multiple mechanics at once, even in platforming, makes for a very enjoyable, dynamic and addictive experience.
This time round they have also included ‘Spirit Trials’. Not really something I was too interested in or felt was needed to be included, but players can now race across the world to an objective, testing their platforming skills. Receiving a fast time will guarantee you a spot on the illustrious leaderboard in the main menu, a bragging right amongst friends.
Visually, the game is stunning and a perfect representation of any fantasy land I would want to be in. Each environment is deep and vibrant; from the rich purples and blues of the forest floor, eerie darkness and reds of the fiery caves to the warm oranges glowing from the distant sunsets, it is all beautiful to take in. Ori the whole time contrasts these backgrounds with his crisp white glow, certainly the star in his own performance.
Everything this little spirit comes up against is full of life and meticulously detailed; the forest is breathing with energy whether it be ripples in the waters, slime dangling from rotting logs, the abundance of unique and interesting enemies or the diverse range of flowers blooming from one location to the next, everything has a design purpose. The cutscenes are animated with cinematic quality, you just can’t look away, it is just that mesmerising because there is too much to take in. It’s almost overstimulating, only almost.
Just as beautiful is the music compilation which complements the visual’s whimsical, dream-like state. With a full orchestral score by Gareth Coker, it is atmospheric and sets the mood gorgeously whether it be calming roaming or amping up when entering a suspenseful boss fight. You can easily close your eyes and get lost in the wonder it creates.
Overall, Ori And The Will Of The Wisp, while challenging, is a thoroughly enjoyable ride in a gorgeous fantasy world. Ori isn’t just an average platformer, it really is an engaging adventure from start to finish. With innovation level design, interesting characters and dynamic game mechanics, this is one title you will want to get spirited away with.
- Story full of mystery and fantasy
- Engaging and challenging gameplay and puzzles
- Series of weapons and abilities that can be chained together
- Challenging but satisfying
- Fun boss fights
- Gorgeous visually, cinematic cutscenes
- Stunning orchestral score