In the midst of a chaotic 2020, here’s some good news from Moon Studios: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, has arrived on Switch. Initially released on Xbox One and Microsoft Windows in March, Will of the Wisps was ported to Switch for a September release, and we’re excited to share our thoughts. (And although the events of Ori and the Will of the Wisps pick up where Ori and the Blind Forest left off, you don’t have to play the first installment before enjoying this new release.) Will of the Wisps begins with the hatching of a baby owl whom Ori, Naru, and Gumo adopt and name “Ku.” Ku is born with a broken wing, making flight impossible until Gumo mends the wing with a large feather. Ku finally takes flight and soars through the skies with Ori on her back, but the two are separated in a severe storm.
Gameplay begins with Ori alone in a dark and rainy forest. Playing as Ori, you must navigate a vast, interconnected series of biomes and areas through platforming, gradually growing stronger and acquiring new abilities such as double jump, dash, and different attacks. In true Metroidvania fashion, you can enter new areas that were once inaccessible after gaining new strengths. Despite Will of the Wisps’ vast world, it’s hard to find yourself lost because the game’s progression flows flawlessly, and a detailed map aids in backtracking after obtaining the required upgrades. Many secret areas and hidden power-ups reward you for fully exploring each area, so you’ll be motivated to climb, jump, swim, and glide your way into every nook and cranny. As you explore, you’ll fight against a variety of creatures, and the game’s combat only gets better as you gain new ways to approach each battle.
We found the game’s platforming, combat, and gameplay to be incredibly smooth with tight controls, but Will and the Wisps is truly defined by its visuals and soundscape. An emotional, inspiring, and uplifting soundtrack is sure to tug on your heartstrings while myriad sound effects pull you deep into the game’s intricate world. And the graphics are nothing short of incredible: they are textured, detailed, and layered, making a two-dimensional platforming game feel convincingly three-dimensional. Color schemes shift from bright and cheery forests to dark and dreary marshes to match the game’s emotional pacing. And the game’s world is in constant motion, making everything come to life: the trees sway, the moss heaves, and the lighting shifts elegantly from shadow to light. Will of the Wisps maintains its incredible sights and sounds in gameplay and cutscenes alike, keeping you deeply engaged as you play.
With its emotional story, smooth gameplay, and stunning aesthetics, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the best new indies of 2020. Metroidvania games can be intimidating with their vast, complex, and difficult-to-navigate worlds, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps is much more fluid than most. Intuitive gameplay and a useful map should help you avoid getting lost as you adventure through the game’s impeccable world. If Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks at all interesting to you, do yourself a favor and download it from the eShop as soon as you can. And if you’re a Metroidvania fan, this is a title you really don’t want to miss.
Serious Ori fans might want to pick up Ori Collector’s Edition from iam8bit. Available on Switch, Xbox One, or PC, this premium set features a “Transforming” display box with a glow-in-the-dark finish, a stained-glass-style art piece, a field guide entitled “The Flora & Fauna of Ori,” a Sketchbook Zine, a collectible art card set, and a glow-in-the-dark hard enamel pin. You’ll also get digital download cards for the soundtracks for Blind Forest and Will of the Wisps, plus physical editions of both games featuring reversible cover art. (The physical copies are region-free, meaning worldwide compatibility.) This collector’s edition runs $149.99 and is available for pre-order now.
When playtesting on the TV, the game crashed for us once, but it played flawlessly in handheld mode. We didn’t lose any progress since the game auto-saves but we wanted to disclose that experience in our review. We reached out to the publisher for comment and received the following response: “This is a known rare issue and Moon Studios is putting the finishing touches on a patch that will remedy the issue as soon as possible.”
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.