Ori and the Will of the Wisps Promises to Take Us on Another Amazing Journey | Tech News

One of 2015’s best and most imaginative games is Ori and the Blind Forest. The Xbox One and PC exclusive managed to stand out from the flood of similar “Metroidvania” titles thanks to its gorgeous graphics and challenging gameplay. The sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is taking things to the next level by adding new skills and expanding the size of the world. Based on the short demo I played last week after the Xbox E3 briefing, I believe Moon Studios is set to deliver another awe-inspiring platforming experience.

The demo I played was set in an area called the Windswept Wastes, which is about four to five hours into the main story. The barren desert environment was a great place to test out Ori’s new moves. Chief among these is a new swinging mechanic that serves as a way to traverse the world faster and to avoid dangerous traps. Given all of the nasty dangers before Ori, the Grapple came in extremely handy. Another new ability gained near the end of the demo allowed Ori to burrow under the sand. This is another move that’s essential for getting around the world quickly.

Ori and the Blind Forest emphasized platforming over combat. The sequel seeks to strike a finer balance between the two. To help fend off the vicious creatures of the world, Ori has three different attacks he can employ. The first is a sword called Spirit Edge. This weapon is perfect for close-range combat. Another melee attack is the Spirit Smash. This hammer strikes slowly but hits hard. Lastly, the Spirit Arc is a bow that’s ideal for long-range encounters. Players can upgrade and modify each of these abilities to make them more effective.

The world of the original game was beautiful, but it was also lonely. The only company Ori had were the monsters trying to kill him. That isn’t the case with the sequel, as various NPCs litter the map. These characters offer Ori side quests to complete or sell him useful items like maps and upgrades. In the demo, an NPC named Tokki asks Ori to retrieve a needle for him. Completing the quest rewards our hero with an upgrade. While NPCs aren’t necessarily crucial to the game, they do make the world feel more alive.

Speaking about the game world, Moon Studios has somehow managed to make Ori and the Will of the Wisps more visually stunning than Blind Forest. That’s impressive considering how the demo takes place in an uninviting desert environment. Everything seen on screen, from Ori, his enemies, and the world, are brilliantly realized. The lighting effects give everything a decidedly otherworldly feel. Playing this level makes me yearn to see how welcoming environments like forests look. My words cannot do the visuals justice. This is a breathtakingly gorgeous game.

Blind Forest is one of the most challenging games released in recent years and Will of the Wisps is no different. If you want to proceed, you’re going to need to sharpen your platforming skills. For example, the demo featured sections where you had to bounce off sand walls and then quickly use the Grapple to get across a gap. The tricky part is that the sand walls disintegrate upon touch. You have to move quickly or end up falling into a pit of spikes. As before, you’ll receive certain upgrades that make platforming easier. Even then, you’ll need to master certain basic moves like double jumping and wall jumping in order to survive. Expect another tough (but fair) experience.

Since I only played a small portion of the game, I didn’t get a feel for the full scope of the world. Like with other Metroidvania titles, this game contains numerous routes one can unlock with the correct ability or power up. I expect the world of Will of the Wisps to be every bit as expansive and intertwined as that of the original. Perhaps more so. Even in the demo, I located a number of secret items and passages. I’m looking forward to exploring every nook and cranny in the final game.

The original Ori was (criminally) overlooked by many gamers. Hopefully, people will take the time to check out the sequel. While I realize players are no doubt suffering from Metroidvania fatigue at this point, this is a must-play title if you’re a fan of challenging platformers. Don’t miss out on Ori and the Will of the Wisps when it releases for Xbox One and PC in 2019.

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