Ori and the Will of the Wisps Xbox One X Review

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an outstanding sequel that both challenges and dazzles the player with its enchanting musical score and remarkable visuals.

By Grayshadow, Posted 16 Mar 2020

Ori and the Blind Forest was a rare gem. Combining an emotionally charged story, with beautiful visuals, and challenging gameplay. Tethering everything together was the passionate soundtrack that invoked feelings of both sadness and love. Ori and the Will of the Wisps take every concept of the original game and builds on it. Providing the same exceptional atmosphere and Metroidvania gameplay. But with improved combat mechanics, more engaging optional missions, and a deeply passionate story and soundtrack that rivals Ori and the Blind Forest. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an outstanding sequel that both challenges and dazzles the player with its enchanting musical score and remarkable visuals. It's a shame that the most major thing holding it back is the technical problems.

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You don't need to have played the original game to understand the plot. However, those who experienced the first game will have a better connection with the characters and the introduction of Ku the owl. Taking place after the events of the first game, Ori and his family are taking care of Kuro's egg. Ori, Naru, and Gumo raise Ku to the best of their ability but the poor owl cannot fly due to its badly damaged wing. Thankfully Ori and Gumo are quick to repair Ku's wing thanks to one final gift from her mother. Unfortunately, this is where things go south. After taking flight for the first time Ku and Ori are separated and Ku is left stranded. Ori must do whatever it takes to locate Ku.

The story's narrative is basic but the execution is fantastic. Using an exceptional soundtrack and beautiful animations Moon Studios is able to properly convey the situation to highlight what the characters are feeling with little need for voices. There are scenes where the narrator or certain characters provide context to what is happening in this world but the most profound scenes have no one speaking.

Right from the start players who experienced the original will notice an improvement from the original's already incredible visuals. Moon Studios gave the character models a 3D look. The environments are simply extraordinary with intricate details such as light peering tiny openings and particles of dust dancing around. With a diverse variety of locations and even more characters to interact with the world feels more alive than in the previous game. Giving the forest more of a personality as a home rather than a location you explore. Instead of just harboring deadly enemies that want Ori dead we also see there are plenty of creatures willing to help.

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Like in Ori and the Blind Forest you're given a large area to explore, with the area called Niwen. Branching paths are littered everywhere and offer upgrades, optional objectives, and new to Ori and the Will of the Wisps side missions. The side missions usually require you to find a specific item or complete some sort of trial, usually speed or combat, for bonuses. You have your standard experience used for upgrades and permanent boost, fast travel stations, fragments to boost health and spirit energy, passive and custom abilities, and Gorlek Ore to rebuild a settlement for the locals.

Traders have also been added to the game. Offering new upgrades in exchange for the orbs you'll gather by defeating enemies, locating wells, and completing side missions. Most of these do make the adventure easier, such as the triple jump, or make the adventure harder with increased damage for added benefits.  Most importantly, you can purchase maps that expose the location of hidden items that make locating everything much easier.

There's a lot more reason to go off an explore but often Ori is limited to how far he can go. Like any other Metroidvania, Ori requires specific abilities to overcome certain barriers or reach specific areas. The developers did include a more forgiving fast travel system. Once activated you can warp to that location from any place on the map. But this can lead to issues. During the last third of the game, you're required to go to multiple locations that seem open-ended by providing the player with the key items general location but they're not. Instead, you have to go to these specific locations in order or you'll get stuck. The game doesn't convey this properly and I personally ended up searching an area for an hour wondering if I did something wrong only to realize that I had to go to another area.

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Ori is much more nimble here thanks to the introduction of new mobility and combat options. Unlike Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori can now attack directly instead of relying on a spirit. Using a variety of weapons such as a sword, bow and arrow, and more Ori can make quick work of enemy targets but is also fragile, requiring equal parts defense and offense. Ori's mobility options have been extended with a dash ability, grappling hook for specific surfaces, and overall better control. That being said Ori and the Will of the Wisps maintains the same difficulty as the first game. With the game progressively getting harder with more challenging adversaries and platforming obstacles that require near-perfect execution. It's not as difficult as the previous game, which required exact precision during the final challenges. With the developers offering more room for error here but it won't make getting the Immortal achievement any easier (Which requires you to beat the game without dying).

Ori's new combat system is definitely an improvement from the previous game. Ori's direct involvement in battle allows for intense encounters against the more deadly creatures of the forest. And there are some incredible enemies to defeat and bosses to face. The game does try to encourage players to keep their momentum when fighting and platforming by offering health orbs for defeating enemies. It's also beautiful to watch, seeing Ori glide through the air while attacking is eye candy.

You're going to die, a lot. Despite the precise controls your reaction time and ability to make quick decisions will constantly be tested. But Moon Studios has provided a forgiven checkpoint system. Whether you die from an enemy encounter or environmental hazards you quickly respawn at the last checkpoint which is usually at the start of the platforming section or enemy encounter. However, if you happen to obtain an item before reaching a safe zone you'll have to get it back.

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The biggest issue with Ori and the Will of the Wisps are the technical problems. I played this game on the Xbox One X and faced dozens of frame rate issues. The game's frame rate would randomly drop so low the screen would freeze. I wish that was the only issue but there were plenty more. Sound effects would stop, the final boss became invisible, the game crashed 4 times during my 2 playthroughs, and some of the achievements won't trigger. Specifically the "Complete the Game" achievement. The achievement issue seems to be a running issue with Microsoft published games since the same issue happened in Gears 5.

This is a shame considering that Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautifully written atmospheric title with an emotionally energized soundtrack. The gameplay demands the precision and control that platformer gamers absolutely crave. But the technical issues are way too much and frequent to give it a pass.



 

Ori and the Will of the Wisps has a lot of exceptional qualities but the technical issues were too many to ignore. The outstanding musical score, incredible journey, and precision focused gameplay hits every mark perfectly for an adventure that is equal parts challenging and wonderous to experience. Leading up to a conclusion that will have fans and newcomers both satisfied and yearning for more from this development team. Ori And The Will Of The Wisps may stumble due to preventable issues but once resolved this title can stand beside some of the best games in the genre.

Adam Siddiqui,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Developer(s): Moon Studios
Genres: Platformer
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2018

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