The original game, Ori and the Blind Forest, was loved by many. Its beautiful visuals, amazing soundtrack, and heartwarming story are exactly why this game stood out to me. For some reason, the game didn’t resonate with me as much as it did with so many others. In terms of gameplay, the combat was weak and didn’t offer much in variety. The platforming was ok, but didn’t get really good until the final dungeon. Finally there was exploration, which I never felt motivated to do. Every Metroidvania should be enticing to explore every nook and cranny, but never felt I needed to do that in Blind Forest. So with my expectations in a more cautious state, I decided to give the sequel a go once it released on Nintendo Switch, but is it the masterpiece that is claimed by so many?
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the perfect example of what a sequel should be. It carries over everything that was great about the original, and improves everything that needed improving. The visuals are still as beautiful as ever. The soundtrack is exceptional and some of the best in any platformer (or game in general) you’ll ever play. The story remains heartwarming, tragic, emotional, and everything you could want from a video game story. I think my eyes were tearing up during the ending too (I’m not crying, you are!!).
So with all the strengths of the original carrying over to the sequel, what about the gameplay? This time around, I absolutely loved the gameplay! The combat felt so good, swinging your light sword had real weight to it and defeating each enemy was very satisfying. There’s a huge amount of shards to collect which give you passive abilities so you can customise how you want to play and fight. There’s also plenty of active abilities to discover that will cater to multiple playstyles.
Platforming is an absolute joy too. Each area is well thought out and you’ll be challenged more so in this game. With more abilities under your belt, it means there’s just more variety and excitement with every area you enter. It was always a thrill to dash, launch and glide your way through so many dangerous sections, and it never stopped being satisfying. I loved how certain abilities you earned directly related to the area you’re in, making each area feel more distinct from each other, apart from just visuals.
The biggest improvement to me was the exploration and the amount there was to discover. In the original, most of what you found was life and energy upgrades, as well as spirits, which was the game’s currency. In this sequel, there’s so much more! Gorlek Ore for making renovation-style upgrades, shards for more abilities, as well as the expected life and energy upgrades, all filled the various nooks and crannies of this gorgeous and colourful world. To add to all that, there are many side quests to undertake which gives you even more incentive to explore. By the time I was ready to finish the game, I made sure I had 100% in every area, because that’s how fun and addictive it was.
My only criticism is in relation to crashes and bugs. Quite a few times the game did crash, but it was mostly when I fast travelled. The autosave is very generous so I never lost any real progress. There were also a few moments I would clip trough the ground and get stuck in limbo, but a quick fast travel would get me out, assuming it didn’t crash.
I’m very grateful to Microsoft for releasing this game on the Switch because there wouldn’t have been any other way I could play what is easily one of the best games of 2020. From start to finish, Ori and the Will of the Wisps will take you on a magical ride that begs to be explored. Every element of this game is at such a high standard, there’s no way you could not enjoy it.
If there’s a third game to this series, you can bet I’ll be counting down the days in anticipation for its release.