The follow-up game to 2015’s critically acclaimed Ori and the Blind Forest delivers on nearly every front that a sequel should. The game picks up where Blind Forest left off: Ori, his foster mother Naru, and his ally Gumo are tasked with raising Ku, a baby orphan owl that was the last remaining offspring of Kuro, one of the main enemy characters from the original game. As time passes, Ori and Ku eventually take off from the forest of Nibel to discover what lays beyond it. A storm separates the two and Ori crashes in an unknown land where the new adventure begins.
You will notice right away the incredible visuals of the game. This was one of the stand out elements of Blind Forest but Will of the Wisps takes it one step further by making the environment feel even more alive. The way the light shines on the surfaces and feels alive around you truly engrosses you in your surroundings. The game is flat out gorgeous, as I found myself sitting back and staring in awe at its surroundings. On top of the incredible visuals in the game, the music is also top notch. One of the areas in the game, the Mouldwood Depths, has you playing in near complete darkness while the eerie music that plays really adds to that feeling of emptiness and makes the environment feel that much more suffocating.
Another big improvement over Blind Forest is the addition of more weapons. In the first game, you are quite limited to only two types of weapons to choose from. Will of the Wisps gives you a much wider selection of weapons to choose from. One of these weapons, the Spirit Edge, is the first weapon you start off with, is essentially a sword. This allows for direct combat with enemies and was typically my weapon of choice. However, one of my favourites was the Spike, a spear-like weapon that deals an incredible amount of damage to enemies. This was especially useful in the boss fight sequences due to the large amount of damage it deals. What’s great about all these new weapons is that certain enemies are best defeated with certain weapons, so you will find yourself using all of them at one point or another. Another big addition is Spirit Shards which you collect to give Ori various improvements to his abilities. This might include taking less damage from enemies or being able to increase your life. One of my favourite shards was the sticky shard, allowing Ori to stick to surfaces and climb walls. This one is especially useful since a lot of the world Ori traverses has walls and cliffs. Using the environment to your advantage is definitely a strategy that will make your gameplay experience more favourable.
Some other new features include spirit trials and combat arenas. Spirit trials are not unlike time trials pitting you against a ghost Ori. The speed as you crawl, run, and glide your way through a path of obstacles to reach the finish line as quickly as possible will have you feeling like a ninja. Seeing as Ori was designed to be a nimble character, this is the perfect way to hone your skills. Combat arenas have you fighting against a wave of enemies to be able to increase the number of spirit shards you can use. This also allows you to hone your skills as you face a barrage of enemies. After the first combat arena, I felt like I could take on any enemy that came at me.
Chase sequences in Will of the Wisps will have your heart racing. There was one chase sequence in Blind Forest, in which Ori had to escape a rising tide of water, and it proved to be one of the most memorable moments of the game. In Will of the Wisps, there are quite a few of these chase sequences, each of them seeing Ori traversing the environment around him as he was escaping. Whether jumping over a falling tree or gliding to safety from an avalanche of snow, these chase sequences are thrilling. However, what truly sets Will of the Wisps apart from other games is its story. Without giving anything away, Wisps covers everything from friendship to love to death. You will be invested in Ori by the end of the game. Or you’re officially dead inside.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps was one of my most anticipated games of 2020 and has more than lived up to the hype. It has taken the formula that made Ori and the Blind Forest such a success and improved on it in almost every way. The gorgeous environment, incredible platforming, and emotional story made the nearly-10 hour gameplay of Will of the Wisps one that I won’t forget any time soon.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is available on Xbox and Windows, or included with Xbox GamePass on both platforms.
This review is based on the Xbox One X version of the game, which we were provided with.
- Touching storyline that pulls at the heart strings
- New boss battles and intense escape sequences
- Colourful and enchanting environment
- Occasional framerate issues