For a two-dimensional platformer, there are few games that feel quite as large as Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Building on the 2015 release ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’, Will of the Wisps brings a set of distinct and yet familiar adventures to the Xbox and Nintendo Switch families. Accompanied by exquisite art and an amazing score, this game is a feast for the senses, and there is always more just waiting to be unlocked.
A Mystical Menagerie
Ori and the Will of the Wisps celebrates nature with its host of creatures, both friend and foe. As you go, you will unlock new challenges by talking to many of Niwen’s inhabitants and the adorable Moki will be tailing you to help you on your way. You will also encounter the behemothic guardians who will help Ori on their quest to rescue Ku, the injured owl. Each area is teeming with life, and most encounters feed you information about what’s happening, immersing you into the world around you. They will also feed you nuggets of information about rumours and leads to help you on your adventure.
From friend to foe, there are just as many harmful critters as helpful in Will of the Wisps. From the biggest, heavy-hitting mantis to the smallest flesh-stripping piranhas and acid-spitting slugs, you will see a veritable menagerie of all things animal. Every time you get your head around fighting one type of creature along comes another to put you through your paces. The mix of critters kept me constantly excited about what could be round the corner, and I have always been eager to unlock a new challenge.
A Forest of Fortune
From the very first adventure you undertake, you become aware of quite how vast the area you are exploring is. As you take your first tentative steps out into the forest, you discover that Will of the Wisps transcends just two dimensions. As you roam, you discover a whole world around you, brought to life by the living and breathing backdrop behind you. Layers of sensational artwork overlap to give Will of the Wisps an incredible sense of depth. The immense size of this game reminds me of the open-world Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both share a respect for nature, as well as a sense of grandeur that simply can’t be described.
Similarly, both games are about self-improvement, with the protagonist, Ori, starting out with just a basic set of skills. As you play, you unlock new abilities and powers which in turn allow you to discover previously unreachable areas. As you unlock them, you choose which ones to add and how you use them. This forges a sense of connection between you and Ori; you have learnt and developed together, you become more and more invested. As Ori learns, so do you. You learn how to best time your jumps, when to dash, how to hop over vicious thorns without hurting yourself. The better you get, the more the game becomes about intuition. As you get more comfortable with the game you start acting more on instinct, and that is when you can start to really enjoy the little details.
A Sensational Score
Not only does this game feature some particularly gorgeous graphics, but it is also supported by a sensational score. This music accompanies you through every battle and adventure. The music of Will of the Wisps adds to the incredible depth that runs throughout. Ever-changing and ever-present, the soundtrack constantly sets the mood for the game. Not only is the gameplay teeming with life, but the music is too. It feels so responsive it almost feels alive, reacting to every situation with just the right change in tempo. It is never overpowering or out of place. The music is a tireless support to every other aspect of the game and, in my opinion, one of Ori and the Will of the Wisps most enchanting features.
An Enchanting End
Overall, Ori and the Will of the Wisps packs one hell of a punch. With both spectacular visuals and content, this game comes with just the right balance of challenge to keep you engaged long into the storyline. The level of attention to detail is sublime and there is not a square inch of this game that has not been well thought out. From the ambient music to the most dramatic of battle, there is nothing that disappoints.
With countless hours needed just to explore the map, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is comparable to the Zelda game Breath of the Wild. Both are the titans in their respective categories, and they are both as incredible as each other. There really aren’t enough words for me to accurately convey how excellent this game is, and so I will leave it up to you to find out for yourself on your own adventure into the Niwen forest.