Developer: Moon Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2020
Price: $29.99 USD
If I were to tell you that one day, we would see “XBOX GAME STUDIOS” on a Nintendo system, you’d probably laugh it off and think myself crazy! The budding and successful relationship Nintendo has with Microsoft has been a sight to behold. From Cuphead to Banjo and Kazooie in Super Smash Bros Ultimate to Ori and the Blind Forest, these fantastic indie games have felt right at home on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is no different and shines a light on a relationship between two gaming giants that we hope will continue to flourish in the future!
From Moon Studios, an independent game development studio founded in 2010 that has active members throughout the world, and with the help of publisher iam8bit, Ori and the Will of the Wisps was first released as a Microsoft exclusive for PC and Xbox One on March 11, 2020. It was first announced back in 2017 as a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest.
Both titles have received rave reviews and stellar scores on the Xbox counterparts. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a fantastic addition to the Nintendo Switch due to its Metroidvania style gameplay and adorable characters!
Ori and the Will of the Wisps follows on where the story ends in Ori and the Blind Forest (you can read our review to catch yourself up to the story so far here!) Ori, Naru, and Gumo name a new baby owl Ku and raise him as part of their family. As their family bonds, a storm brews and separates them and Ori must search the forest for Ku. During his search, Ori meets a toad named Kwolok who tells him that Ku is in the Silent Woods.
The story of Ori and the Will of the Wisps is all about Ori’s search for Ku and helping to revive the guarding spirit. Along the way, Ori will gain new powers and abilities as well as meet a series of interesting characters! I don’t want to spoil the story too much as this series is renowned for its fantastic storytelling. The developers are experts at grabbing your heartstrings and plucking them ever-so-slightly that you want to continue the story and help Ori on his journey. Just like the first game, this title had me in tears within the first ten minutes of gameplay. Ori and the Will of the Wisps show that there is beauty in simplicity. The story is simple, thoughtful, and engaging.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps retains a lot of the same gameplay as its previous entry. This time, however, they added an interesting melee mechanic. You can use a wisp and strike your enemies with a bright blue blade and they’ve improved the gemstone mechanic that gives this game an almost RPG-esque feel to it.
The meat and potatoes of this game is platforming. This title is a great example of excellent level design and platforming mechanics. Even with an “easy” setting on difficulty, this game provides many challenges that you must simply overcome regardless! The challenge is rewarding and the vast levels reward your curiosity or bravery.
As you progress through the story, you will unlock various abilities and collect shards to improve Ori’s stats and basic attacks! Your primary weapon besides jumping on the bad guys is called the Spirit Edge. This blue blade can have improved reach and power as you collect shards to upgrade your attacks. Instead of “soul links” from the previous game, this game will autosave, which to me is a huge improvement of quality of life. If you die from a long puzzle, you won’t have to start over at the beginning of the level!
The active abilities you can unlock are the aforementioned Spirit Edge, a flaming arrow called the Spirit Arc, A powerful spear called the Spike, a Spirit Smash that crushes foes, a Spirit Star that acts like a boomerang, A light burst that explodes at a distance, and the ability to regenerate health! There are a plethora of abilities to unlock that make this game all the more worth it to check out and experience the improvements from the previous game!
At its core, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an action platformer, but it has so much more in store that gives this game a unique twist on the age-old platformer genre!
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Besides an emotionally gripping story, Ori and the Will of the Wisps also includes a few features! Various difficulty settings for those who want to challenge themselves, a bunch of quests that help to give more life to NPC’s. These quests help make the overall experience more lengthy.
The newest feature is the Spirit Trials mode. This game mode gives players a race to the finish style game to compete with players around the world and test their platforming abilities! This game is still a single player game, but these extra features give the relatively long story-based game some quality of life and extra replay value!
The entire Ori series has a wonderful soundtrack. For an indie game, the soundtrack is professionally produced and polished and simply pleasing to the ear. Composer Gareth Coker returned for Ori and the Will of the Wisps and his soundtrack for this game is gripping and engaging. He wrote the music to give each character their own theme. The sounds of woodwinds, violins, and other wooden instruments add to the theme of a dark forest as well as enhancing the overall atmosphere. The music is stellar and simply relaxing.
The sound engineering is also top-notch as well. The sounds of the birds chirping in the background, logs creaking, and ropes swinging, all give that lonely vibe that you would feel if you were traversing the dark woods alone searching for your friend. The balance of the sound is great and not overbearing and the quality of the mixing is superb! This indie game truly feels like a AAA masterpiece when it comes to the sounds!
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
The art for Ori and the Will of the Wisps is even more polished and beautiful than their first entry. Instead of a more 2D approach, the developers opted for a more 3D, immersive environment. The forward shadows, the leaves blowing in the wind, Ori’s improved build as well as the cinematic graphics when you complete a level are all superb! The attention to detail in the graphics is wonderful and comparable to the powerful system like PC and Xbox One X.
More often than not, a game that is released on multiple consoles doesn’t run as well on the Switch. This is not the case for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I experienced hardly any frame dips or shakiness and the overall performance was solid throughout my entire playthrough! It’s wonderful to see a game perform on the Switch as well as Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Even handheld mode is incredibly smooth in my opinion.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a wonderful game and it runs very smoothly on the Switch. To be critical, I would say the only drawback could be its difficulty. However, I could also be horrible at platforming games. I found myself retrying a lot of puzzles as well as backtracking in case I forgot something.
This game gives you ample time to explore and is simply relaxing at times. Other times, you may want to have something soft nearby in case you want to throw your controller. Even on Easy mode, I found myself restarting a lot of puzzles. If you’re a platformer extraordinaire, then by all means this game is for you! Otherwise, do your best to be patient and work your way through this engaging and beautiful story!
Ori and the Will of the Wisps continue to show the strong relationship Nintendo has with Microsoft by adding one of the best platformers ever made on the Switch, however, it is not without a challenge! Tread lightly and be patient! This is a perfect addition to the Switch!
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A review code was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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