Buckle up, folks, we went all out on this one. I can't wait to see all the streams and I hope we're gonna make all of you very happy with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. When we shipped Blind Forest, Moon Studios was still a fairly scrappy studio and the game was made by only 10-15 people. For Will of the Wisps, we had 3-4 times the amount of people working on it and some of the best talent in the industry joined in this time around too.
The proof is in the pudding, we'll have to wait for press and gamers to throw in their final verdict, but I'm pretty confident in what we built, especially given our recent playtests. It took us another 4+ years to build this game, it was damn hard, but I hope you'll all agree that all the labor was well worth it. I said very early on that our goal has always been for Will of the Wisps to become to Blind Forest what Super Mario Bros. 3 was to Super Mario Bros. 1 - We kept the core of Blind Forest alive, but tried to ship a much fuller experience this time around. I hope people will agree that it's a sequel similar to the ones Nintendo shipped in the past, Zelda 1 going to Zelda 3, etc. - Same core gameplay, but massively improved all around.
Now, I fully realize that this coming from the Creative Director of the game, it should all be taken with a grain of salt, but I think I've shown many times that I'm a no-bullshitter. I'm super excited while also a bit nervous... But I think we did well and I can't wait to see you all laugh and cry again
While there is still an element of loneliness to the game, which is inherent to the Metroidvania-design, I was surprised and pleased to see that you are, in fact, not alone in your journey. As Ori is more capable of facing off with the new world's threats, he'll come to know and rely upon the forest's tribes. This storybook approach to unraveling its story and the world was such a delight to see, and I'm excited to see where it goes after its fantastic opening hours.
Everything we saw and played of the game suggests that Ori And The Will Of The Wisps will be just as accomplished, and successful, as its predecessor. It’s not the sort of game you’d normally think of as an Xbox exclusive but that’s almost part of the appeal. As such, it’s a vitally important game for Microsoft, in proving the variety and diversity of their exclusives, but the most important factor is simply that it looks to be one of the best Metroidvania games of the current generation.
Will of the Wisps follows the traditional playbook for a sequel. Like Ori and the Blind Forest, it's a bit heavy handed when it goes for the heart, but it's still impressive how well it wrings emotion from its music and character animation with little dialogue. It's bigger, and prettier, with enough changed from the first game to feel significantly new. Honestly, I just want to get back in there and do more jumping.
Having played a good handful of hours with Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Moon Studio's follow-up to 2015's sumptuous Metroidvania, it's clear that a lot has changed. It's larger, deeper and somehow even more sumptuous, but one thing's exactly the same.
After two hours of hands-on gameplay, it’s clear Ori and the Will of the Wisps is aiming to improve on its established formula with more freedom, experimentation, and a fun new set of weapons and abilities. But in the process, it’s picked up a few new weaknesses as well.
Jenuall wrote:I didn't really click with the original, the control wasn't tight enough for my liking, but hoping this one can make good on the promise of the first.
I felt this way for the first couple of hours and dropped it. Then I came back to it about a month later and was absolutely swept up in the presentation and beauty of it. But yeah, I can understand your criticism.
In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Moon Studios has taken an excellent foundation and made even more out of it. Its many new elements expand on and add to the first game’s fun without bogging it down or becoming overcomplicated. And that’s really the best praise you can give a sequel - it stays true to the spirit of the original, doubles down on what made it great, and gives you more stake in the world and options to navigate it. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an excellent heartfelt follow-up that pushes the series to new heights.
The story is fantastic, the world is breathtaking, and all of that pales in comparison to the wonderfully made gameplay that soars both as a platforming and combat game. Moon Studios has outdone itself with Will of the Wisps, delivering an experience that doesn’t have any lulls, makes the player feel clever, and just keeps getting better as it goes.
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps is one of the most charming, engaging, visually striking and emotionally touching games I’ve played in a long time. It’s difficult but fair, complex but intuitive, and gruelling but conquerable. It’s a game in which you are the light illuminating the world – literally, as Ori’s glow acts as a constant visual centrepiece, defining the darkness, and working with the colour palette, in each and every environment. And when I eventually recognised and realised the titular Will Of The Wisps, I almost immediately decided to plunge the world into eternal darkness for a second time, just so I could save it all over again. I know that sounds mad, little Moki, but trust me. I’ll save it quicker this time.
With the need to go bigger, Ori and the Will of the Wisps loses some of the simplicity and innocence of the original game, but it steps up in turn with bite and refinement. It's the perfect companion to Ori and the Blind Forest, and is an early defining moment of the decade to come.
I prefer Ori and the Blind Forest for its compactness and simplicity, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps is also worth playing to the end. It trips over its complexity at times, and really doesn't need so much combat, but it's gorgeous, funny, and the triple-jumping could go on forever without getting old.
After the stunning Ori and the Blind Forest, I found it hard to imagine Moon Studios being able to one-up themselves with Will of the Wisps and yet it's another beautifully crafted chapter in a series that is held so dear and treasured. As a platforming exercise, it's slick and sublime, it has evolved in subtle ways and Ori's world has grown a little larger as a result. While Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a sequel that'll challenge your resolve and temper your spirit at times, its final act will fill your heart and have it bursting with joie de vivre.
It's quite honestly almost absurd that this game costs just $30. Simply put, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has more of a soul than many $60 "AAA" titles I've played in recent years, and is a cherishable experience I'm sure I will return to repeatedly for many years to come. There wasn't a single moment throughout Will of the Wisp's powerful campaign that I felt bored, or fatigued, and the ending left me with an immediate sense of longing for more of Ori's enchanted world.
You may want to wait a little while after launch to see if the issues I encountered get smoothed out to get the best experience, but the issues did little to stop me having an incredible experience. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a true joy.