"Ori and the Will of the Wisps" is a masterful blend of stylized 3D and hand-painted 2D backdrops, which gives this sidescroller action platformer the depth expected from a much-anticipated sequel.
It has been five years since the release of the critically acclaimed title Ori and the Blind Forest, and the developer Moon Studios has thankfully decided to return to this enchanting and tragic fairy tale world.
The white knuckle platforming challenges, combined with subversive storytelling, are sure to give you a captivating experience.
"Ori and the Will of the Wisps" has a massive open world that shifts and changes as you explore and fight through diverse enemies and landscapes. Employing different strategies to take down the monsters is not only recommended, but essential for making progress.
The game kept us amazed with varied locations sprawling out in all directions – lush forests, frozen mountain peaks, vibrant pools, scorching deserts, and infested burrows choked by darkness.
The soundtrack echoes with your successes, and grows more frantic in moments of tension.
After his adventures in the previous game, Ori – the translucent white guardian spirit – decides to journey beyond the dense Nibel forest to a new world shrouded in darkness.
Ori begins with no skills, and must learn new abilities to unlock unreachable areas. You will be travelling back and forth through each level as you figure out exactly what powers you need to move forward.
Skill-building is a key part of the game, and players must learn to time jumps accurately and climb at precise angles.
In terms of combat, the Will of the Wisps has developed into something more satisfying. Combat is elevated by introducing more challenging enemies that will put your newly acquired skills to the test.
The previous game – Ori and the Blind Forest – did not feature traditional boss encounters, instead favouring exhilarating chase sequences requiring precise platforming skills.
The Will of the Wisps retains these heart-pumping chases, but also introduces several bosses that put up frantic fights in multiple phases. The addition of new combat mechanics and bosses makes it a real treat to play.
Will of the Wisps does a remarkable job of thoughtfully considering its difficulty curve. The game world is designed in such a way that it becomes gradually easier to deal with enemy encounters if you focus more of exploration, instead of rushing to your next objective.
The game hides unique power-ups and abilities in easy to miss locations, which includes entire areas of the game and side missions which are completely optional. It is a perfect synergy between exploration and rewards.
The Will of the Wisps also has an auto-save function, something that was missing in the previous game.
It is to be expected that a game of this nature demands a lot of backtracking, but the Will of the Wisps mitigates much of the tedium by introducing the ability to fast travel from activated save shrines.
The tried and tested formula of teasing inaccessible paths and upgrades that clearly require you to come back with a new ability is everywhere around the game.
Many of the Ori's abilities make a comeback from the previous title, each of them contributing to the wide variety of ways you can traverse the environment.
Launching off enemies and projectiles is just as fun as before, allowing Ori to do amazing aerial maneuvers that add fluidity to your movement. The Will of the Wisps takes things up a notch by adding abilities such as grappling, which compliments the new combat mechanics.
With everything to see and do, especially with a world that seems larger than ever before, the game clocks in around 10-15 hours.
"Ori and the Will of the Wisps" retains what the original did well, trims what held it back, and manages to add in wonderful new elements that elevate this sequel to new heights.
It boasts a fantastic soundtrack and gorgeous visuals that works perfectly together to craft a beautiful atmosphere. It is an exceptional game that you do not want to miss.
"Ori and the Will of the Wisps" is available on the Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.