Gut Check: Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a phenomenal follow up to the 2015 metroidvainia, Ori and the Blind Forest that manages to build upon and refine every aspect of its predecessor.

In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, you play as titular glowing rabbit creature, Ori, who embarks on on journey to find their missing owl friend.  Through a mix of platforming, combat, puzzle solving and exploration, you’ll venture across the beautifully rendered landscape, aiding friends and defeating foes alike, all in service of finding your friend.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a phenomenally fun game to play.  Every aspect of the mechanics are finely tuned to make sure you’re in complete control of Ori and their suite of ever expanding moves.  Early in the adventure you’re limited in terms of what you can do, but within the first hour of play Ori will become competent at not only traversal, but combat too.

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Your abilities in combat start out with a glowing sword of light that allows you to hack and slash your way through enemies.  Combat feels great, mixing in standard light and heavy attacks along with air juggles and downward strikes.  Slightly farther into the game, you’ll come across the extensive shard system that allows you to map new attacks and abilities to your controller as you please, as well as offering opportunities to level up shards to make them more viable and grant additional effects.

Along with unlocking and equipping shards, you’ll come across these trees that grant you new traversal abilities from double jumping to warping to climbable terrain.  The pace at which you’re confronted with new shards and abilities is staggeringly fast and constantly encourages you to shake things up.

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But even when you’re not in the midst of combat or platforming, you’re surrounded by the beautifully desolate world in Ori and the Will of the Wisps.  Everything is gorgeous and lovingly crafted, from level design to aesthetics and music.  Despite its beauty and soft glowing art, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is still a hard game that doesn’t punish you too hard for failure thanks to its generous check-pointing system.

The only negative thing I can say about Ori and the Will of the Wisps comes at the fault of the beautiful art.  I never thought something could be too pretty, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps has proven me wrong.  The problem is that Ori is this bright white glowing creature that is luminous in a way that can be difficult to track when there’s a lot on screen.  Every enemy pumps out a lot of particle effects and light bloom to make them pretty noticeable, and while the random enemies aren’t usually an issue, certain bosses can devolve into a mess of particle effects that make it hard to keep track of your positioning in a battle.

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It’s a small thing that might only apply to me, but it made me have to restart an early boss fight several times because Ori would keep getting lost amidst the waterfall of particle effects that the boss was producing.  But like I said, that could just me and my aging eyes.  One thing that is borderline necessary to do early on is to turn off motion blur.  Trust me on this one, the motion blur is incredibly intense.

All things considered, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a phenomenal game that I can’t wait to put more time into.  It’s currently available on Steam, Xbox One, and it’s on Game Pass which is how I got a hold of it.  If you’re in the mood for a dense and satisfying action and adventure platformer, you should definitely check out Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

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