Release Date: March 11th, 2020 (Microsoft Windows, Xbox One)
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Moon Srudios
ESRB: Everyone (Mild Fantasy, Violence)
One of the most endearing Microsoft exclusives this generation was Ori And The Blind Forest. After five, long years, to the day, Xbox Game Studios and Moon Studios finally released the much anticipated sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps! As someone who never played the original I was not sure what to expect when given the task of reviewing this game. I did know that the game looked and sounded adorable and I was intrigued, to say the least. To cut to the chase, Moon Studios truly outdid themselves with this breathtaking game. Everything from the gorgeous graphics to the heart-wrenching story will leave gamers completely captivated.
The story begins in a little nook in the forest where the player once again meets the adorable spirit fox by the name of Ori. He is with his little friend Ku, a recently hatched owl who cannot fly. Led by Ori, Ku is able to finally take flight! Only for an awful storm to roll in and separate them. In Ori and the Will of the Wisps the player sets out on the mission of finding Ku. As with the first game, the story is once again very moving with enough emotional moments to have the player emotionally connected. I will not spoil the story, but it is well worth the price of admission.
As far as controls go, I would venture to guess that they are a bit different between platforms. This game was published by Xbox Game Studios and is apart of their Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. This not only means it can be played either on console or a Windows computer, but that the player can transfer saves between those devices. The controls for this epic platformer on PC were very easy to learn and adapt to. I personally found that the game reminded me of Metroidvania’s akin to Hollow Knight, which is another game I absolutely adore. The game also does an excellent job of allowing the player to adjust the control keys as they see fit.
Moving on, I found the map to be well structured and full of whimsy. The player is given an objective and is then capable of exploring to their heart’s content until they arrive at their destination. The game does an amazing job of sequestering off certain areas until the player has progressed far enough in the story to reach those points by means of ability collection. These abilities are collected as the player hits certain story beats. As these abilities are added, a plethora of areas that require certain abilities to grant the player access begin to open up for the player. This keeps the gamer on track and prevents the player from straying too far from where they are meant to be exploring. This also opens up shortcuts or access to secrets the player could see but not get to initially.
The soundtrack for this game is absolutely gorgeous. The player will absolutely want to be wearing a headset for this game due to the amazing sound design. I did notice that on my rig I had a few audio glitches where the music would cut out during cutscenes, but I am not sure if that is just my computer or if it is an actual issue with the game. The ambient sounds during gameplay are also extremely well done. Speaking of cutscenes, they are very smooth with their transitions into and out of gameplay. One interesting aspect of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is that boss fights are very deliberate. The player has to plan things out and time them properly to get through battles. No amount of button mashing will bring the player victory! This aspect is something I personally enjoyed as it pushes the player to think about the challenge instead of just cheesing their way through it.
Overall, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an absolutely gorgeous game. It controls well, is easy for the player to adapt to and learn, and has stunning sound quality. I am a bit disappointed that it is limited to Xbox and PC, as I am usually a PlayStation and Nintendo Switch Gal, but the only issue I had with the game itself was with the audio cutting out. Speaking of which, I experimented with this further and while it did not seem to be an issue with my laptop, I am not positive what caused the problem. That being the only glaring issue, this game receives a much deserved high score! (Grace Maloney, Gaming Staff Writer)
Review code provided by Xbox Game Studios.