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One of the best platformers of all time



Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a stunning video game.

I’m not just talking about its art direction and visuals, which are gorgeous. Every aspect of this game stitches together into a masterpiece: the platforming, the puzzles, the combat, the big set pieces, the music, the rate of progression, the story. It’s all just so good.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a follow up to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, which itself was a fantastic platformer with pretty visuals and great music. As a sequel, Will of the Wisps manages to elevate every aspect of the first game with a few tweaks and new additions without losing the spirit that lies at the center of the series.

Will of the Wisps (Or are we calling it Ori 2?) is easily one of the best platformers of the past 10 years or so — which is saying a lot.

Bringing it all together

Once again, players take control of Ori, the little white guardian spirit who has to jump and fight through the environment to restore light to a section of the world. With their new companion Ku, Ori flies across a sea to a new land, Niwen, which has gone dark like their own forest did in the first game.

The intro is achingly adorable and sets up the themes of the game very well — family, sacrifice, and growth. It’s immediately endearing and the story builds throughout the game into a beautiful little tale.

Ori's little family is so cute.

Ori’s little family is so cute.

Ori sets out with no abilities like they did in the first game, but it isn’t long before the upgrades and new skills start rolling in, making previously unreachable areas reachable. It’s a classic Metroidvania-style setup and it works very well.

It wasn’t long before I found myself getting completely sucked into the game. The movement just feels so good and the introduction of the Spirit Edge, a sword used to slice through enemies and obstacles, instantly makes the combat 10 times more engaging than in Blind Forest, which is one of the few sizable criticisms I had of the first game.

Will of the Wisps becomes addictive quickly … If I could’ve, I would’ve gone through it one day.

New abilities add more combat and movement options, and the new shard system allows players to customize the way they play with a limited number of shard slots. As you gather shards that allow you to do things like cling to walls, increase your health, or allow you to land powerful critical hits in combat, the game becomes more and more customizable to your needs. You can cater abilities to specific situations and mix things up if something isn’t working particularly well.

As the amount of things Ori can do opens up, so does the world. Each area of Niwen is breathtaking and unique. There’s the aqua blue pools, the oppressively dark caves, the soft green forests, the wintery mountains, and the endgame area tinged with menacing reds and purples. 

The big set pieces in this game are stunning.

The big set pieces in this game are stunning.

All of them bring their own unique spin to the game, keeping everything fresh and exciting as you push further along. Each area ends with a big set piece, too, whether it’s an intense chase or a thrilling boss battle (or both), capping off sections of the game in style. Not knowing what new aesthetics and challenges are coming in the next section makes the rest of the game that much more exciting to explore.

Hitting all the right notes

Will of the Wisps becomes addictive quickly. I finished the game with a completion time of about 11 hours over four days. If I could’ve, I would’ve gone through it one day.

When everything lines up so perfectly like it does in Will of the Wisps, it’s hard to pull away. It’s an experience that’s probably familiar to those who’ve played some of the legendary games that make up the 2D platforming pantheon — games like Super Metroid, Celeste, Hollow Knight, and Super Meat Boy.

Later in the game as I unlocked almost all the different ways to move around and interact with the world, I was blown away by how fluid the game still felt. In single sections I was using five different methods of movement, not including the joystick. That may seem like it could get out of hand but it all made sense and never felt overbearing, even if it was challenging.

The challenges in this game are tough but so fun.

The challenges in this game are tough but so fun.

The challenge is something that Ori and the Will of the Wisps nails perfectly. Whether it’s a boss battle, a chase sequence, a puzzle, or a section that’s hard to navigate through, Will of the Wisps doesn’t shy away from the difficulty.

I died dozens and dozens of times in my playthrough, but each time I died I learned how to move a little better, came up with a different attack strategy, and improved the way I approached the game. By the end, I felt like I really mastered and accomplished something.

I love a challenge, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps really brought it.

Technical challenges

I played Ori and the Will of the Wisps on Xbox One using a pre-release build of the game provided by Microsoft. During my playthrough I encountered a few bugs, including some performance slow-downs, a visual bug or two, and an issue where the game would not save after I paused it for too long. The slow-downs and the save issues were both fixed by exiting the game and booting it up again.

Moon Studios noted these issues and others and said that they would have a day-one patch to fix them. At time of writing, I had not played the latest release of the game to confirm whether the issues had been fixed.

This giant spider is not a bug, in that sense.

This giant spider is not a bug, in that sense.

While some of the bugs were annoying, especially the one that affected saves, they did reveal something about the game. During my time with the game, I had to replay what amounted to about two hours total due to lost saves. Normally this would be so frustrating that I would stop playing entirely. And, yes, it was annoying, but I was enjoying the game so much that I gladly replayed the lost sections again to finish.

That speaks to the quality of Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which deserves to be held among the ranks of some of the best platformer games of all time.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps comes out on Xbox One and PC on March 11.

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