One of the best new independent game franchises of this console generation is undoubtedly the Ori games from developer Moon Studios. Ori and the Blind Forest stole the hearts of many who played it when it released in 2015 and last year it made to jump over to the Nintendo Switch. This opened up the game to an entirely new audience and many Switch owners wondered if the sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, would make it over as well. After releasing to critical acclaim earlier this year on Xbox One and PC, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has now arrived on the Switch and this is one not to be missed.
Fans of the emotional storytelling in the first Ori will find more of that in Will of the Wisps and that is only a good thing. Set some time after the events of the first game, Ori finds himself separated from an owl named Ku early in the story and must set out across a new forest to reunite with Ku. Over the course of the game Ori will run into many more characters than you did in the first with several of the NPCs like Opher and Tokk being quite likeable. No spoilers will be talked about here but this game managed to tug at my heartstrings several times just as the first game did. There aren’t a lot of games that manage to do that for me so the ones like this that pull it off I hold in high regard.
Fans of the first game know what the gameplay is like but if you’re new then you should know that it’s basically just like any other Metroidvania title. As you move through the many areas in the game, you’ll constantly notice parts that you can’t reach until you obtain new abilities later on that allow you to return to areas and explore them further. The movement and platforming in this game is about as smooth and responsive as I could ask for which just makes playing it a joy. One of the things new to the sequel are side quests that you can choose to undertake. The objectives for these aren’t anything special as they usually involved just finding something and bringing it back to the character that gave you the quest. They are worth doing though as you get Spirit Light as a reward which is the currency in this game and can be spent on new upgrades and Shards. What are Shards you may ask? They allow you to equip various perks to further increase your skills. You can only equip a few of them at a time but you can easily swap them out at any time if you don’t like the build you are currently running. One Shard may vastly increase your damage output while another lets you cling to walls automatically. You can also upgrade the Shards to make them even better than what they start out.
Other things to seek out in the world include hidden collectibles and Spirit Trials which are basically just time trial races. These too reward you with Spirit Light but I didn’t find them to be that enjoyable and so I skipped them most of the time. Another big change to the sequel is the expansion of your combat abilities. Ori now has several weapon types that you can use including different melee and ranged types. The game also makes it very easy to quickly switch between them so that you can swap out at any particular moment you need to in case the one you’re using isn’t working great against the enemy you’re fighting. When you combine the different weapons with the different Shards you can equip, you can see how this game really gives you the option to play it the way that feels best to you. The game isn’t easy either which I appreciated and this is very much apparent in the boss fights you encounter. Chase sequences from the first game also make their return and while the spectacle of them is cool I did find that they involved too much trial and error and that sometimes ruins a bit of that spectacle.
Now we can’t talk about Ori and the Will of the Wisps without talking about the absolutely beautiful art style. The first game has one of the best art styles of this generation and Will of the Wisps manages to even top that. Moon Studios clearly knew what they did well and set out to top themselves in the sequel in terms of variety. There is more variety in the environments you’ll traverse, in the number of enemies, and in what you’ll see in each part of Niwen. There is so much detail in every scene that I couldn’t help but find myself wasting time by just admiring it.
Now if you own a PC or an Xbox One, I’d personally recommend playing this game there for the 4K quality but the Switch version still looks pretty darn good even though the graphics were downgraded a bit so that it could still run at a relatively smooth 60 frames per second. There were a few moments where I got hit by some slowdown but it was nothing too major. The only other technical annoyance was that the initial load time to get into the game is a bit too long but after that I had no issues. The final piece that ties this fantastic game together is the magical soundtrack that just helps to give the story and visuals that extra special feeling. There is a huge variety of tracks throughout this game that play as you traverse the world and the music really hits hard in the more emotional moments.
It was said plenty when Ori and the Will of the Wisps launched earlier this year but now that it’s on Switch I’ll say it again: play this game. It takes everything that made the first Ori one of the most memorable experiences this generation and further builds on it with a more expansive and varied world along with expanded combat options. The Switch version isn’t the best way to play it but it still looks and runs darn good on it. Whether you play it on Switch, Xbox, or PC just play this game because you won’t regret it.
*Ori and the Will of the Wisps is available now on Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps$29.99
- Emotional storytelling
- Expansive and varied world that is fun to explore
- Beautiful, painting-like visuals
- Expanded combat options and lots of ways to customize your gameplay style
- Incredible soundtrack
- Doesn't look as good as the Xbox and PC versions
- Having to retry chase sequences takes away some of the spectacle of them