It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest. As one of the Xbox One’s greatest former exclusives, 2015’s introduction to the ethereal world of spirits was one of this generation’s finest platformers. Five years later and The Blind Forest has been successfully trumped through the awesome, amiable and unforgettable Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
Whether you’re playing on Xbox One, Xbox One X or PC, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the most strikingly gorgeous games you’ll ever play. It’s picturesque aesthetic is timeless: from the dank mouldy caves to blistering snowy mountains, the world of Ori is somehow even more gorgeous than what came before.
Each biome is strikingly unique compared to the last despite their interconnectedness. The game’s deep layering of every screen shows the world stretching far out into the background. While the foreground plane you inhabit is engaging, you’ll find yourself being constantly enamoured with the events of the background. Maybe there’s a treacherous storm billowing, maybe some animals are playing. The attention to detail is amazing.
Even more amazing is how Moon Studios has topped the already incredible work it accomplished back in 2015. From the deep interconnected design of every map that just begs to have every nook and cranny explored to the game’s constantly evolving gameplay. As a Metroidvania, Ori and the Will of the Wisps succeeds in every way: the more you play the more you’ll find yourself enjoying the gameplay.
While Ori initially begins as a very simple platforming adventure, it’s not long until the little forest spirit gains control of a vast collection of abilities. Within the first biome you’ll get access to a swift basic attack that allows you to chain different directional inputs together for some devastating combos, a double jump, the ability to climb up walls, a spirit-bow, a roll and more.
Purchasable abilities and modifiers are plentifully dotted behind little platforming and combat challenges that allows Ori to do anything from triple-jumping to accessing a huge health pool. With abilities also available to purchase from adorable merchants, you’ll always be aiming towards something new.
As I said prior, Ori is always evolving, but the little-spirit-that-could isn’t evolving on his lonesome. As Ori gains access to more and more powers, the environments evolve in turn. While platforming challenges may start of being barebones jumping exercises, Ori’s maps swiftly open up into satisfying – and deadly – challenges that will keep you on your toes. With enemies crawling and pouncing from every hidey-hole imaginable, there’s always something to keep you on your toes.
With that said, the focus on combat has certainly increased since Ori’s last adventure. Enemies are frequent and often deadlier than what came before. Certain areas of the map also hide intense combat arenas that will have you sweating from having to constantly correct your movements to stay alive.
Ori has changed since their last adventure: while the original story was a story of growing independence and growth, the character’s independence is in full swing here. This time, Ori is not looking after themselves. They’re the fully-grown character: this time Ori is the protector and the game’s increased focus on its striking and satisfying combat system reflects this.
As for story, we won’t spoil much, even if our embargo allowed. Just like with the Blind Forest’s emotional narrative, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a deep, emotional tale. It’ll truly grab your heartstrings if you’ve played through the previous game, but it’s an inviting game for those who are new to the series.
In short, after the arrival of a dreadful storm, Ori is tasked with finding Kuru, the adopted baby owl from the end of the first game. Between important story moments you’ll see how Kuru is fending for itself, an aspect of the game’s storytelling that makes you never want to put it down.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the finest platformers available on consoles, let alone on just Xbox One and PC. Moon Studios has crafted a sequel that truly evolves from the original game and that will keep your attention from start to finish. The game’s quality is a huge win for Xbox One and an even bigger one for Xbox Game Pass.