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June 2020

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Release Date: March 11, 2020


XOne/PC Preview - 'Ori and the Will of the Wisps'

by Adam Pavlacka on Feb. 26, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Embark on an all-new adventure to discover the mysteries beyond the forest of Nibel, uncover the hidden truths of those lost, and unravel Ori's true destiny.

Pre-order Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest was an indie surprise with some of the most impressive visuals on the Xbox One when it debuted in 2015. Now, five years later, there have been a number of visually stunning games, but the upcoming sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, looks just as likely to impress. I recently got a chance to spend a few hours with the game and walked away wanting more.

Much like its predecessor, Will of the Wisps looks like a piece of art in motion. Nearly any screenshot of this game could be considered a work of art. The only exceptions are the menus. They're typical video game menus, but the rest of it is hands-down pretty. Massive Kudos to Moon Studios for the work it's put in here.

Another element that has actually improved is the responsive movement. Success in the game requires mastering Ori's ability to move quickly, and Will of the Wisps ensures that you can do just that. At the same time, the game isn't quite as punishing as the first. That's not to say it isn't challenging; it's just that Will of the Wisps doesn't require pixel-perfect landings every single time. Instead, there is just the slightest bit of play, which gives enough of margin of error to bump things onto the "fun", rather than "frustrating," side of the line.

Never fear! If challenge is your thing, you can certainly turn up the difficulty. There's also an easy mode for more casual play, and no one should be ashamed of playing Will of the Wisps on easy. Just wandering around the environment is fun and visually stunning. This is one of the few games that I would love to see running with a full ambient lighting setup. Done right, it would probably be pretty impressive.

Will of the Wisps keeps the Metroidvania concept of the first game, giving you a world that slowly expands as you explore and gain new traversal powers. The map layout isn't always the most direct, as I discovered while making my way toward the first main goal in the game. I did run into a few moments where I wasn't sure what to do next, but after a bit of poking around (and staring at the map screen), I figured it out.

Upgrades are handled as a set of abilities that you can unlock and equip. There are more abilities than there are slots to equip them in, so you'll need to pick and choose which you prefer, and you'll need to identify which abilities are most useful to overcome the obstacles that you are currently facing.

Just like movement, your combat abilities start out basic but quickly get upgraded. Initially, Ori doesn't pack much of a punch, but as you get more abilities and master your movement, you'll be dodging and weaving in no time. It's a small thing, but the environment isn't just for show. It's also a fully realized part of the world. For example, getting a torch means you now have fire to attack an enemy, but going into the water extinguishes the torch. Environmental obstacles will block your progress, but they can also keep enemies at bay. There are also plenty of puzzles in the environment.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps may be a platformer, but the game also asks you to put on your thinking hat. I had to move platforms back and forth, find hidden items, and drop stones into place to progress in the game. The early obstacles weren't too difficult, but I wouldn't be surprised to run across some more difficult brainteasers in the later stages.

As for now, the only real challenge is waiting for the game to be released on Mar. 11.

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