Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Game Diary

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest (2015).

The original was one of my favorite games for many reasons — music, design, feel, gameplay, mechanics. It’s also one of about three games that I actually completed on my PC. And by completed I mean, reached the end of the main story. At the time, I was waking up an hour early before work to write for a project I was working on, but instead I would spend part of the time writing and the rest of the time playing this game for about two weeks.

I mentioned this before but I play the majority of my games on console (PlayStation 4 & 5 and Nintendo Switch, these days). My PC is sort of used as a gaming sampler from time to time. I usually try out cheap Steam and FREE Epic Store games on my PC, but later buy them somewhere else if I’m really interested. I had to play Ori and the Blind Forest on my PC because I didn’t have an XBox One and it took a long time before it was released on Nintendo Switch.

When Ori and the Will of the Wisps came to XBox One and PC, I knew it would come to Nintendo Switch soon enough. So, this time I waited patiently for the game to release on Switch. Once it finally came to the Switch I waited a bit longer to get it on sale. And after getting it on sale I waited a bit longer before actually playing it, but now I’ve beaten it and I would love to talk about it.

A sad Ori wondering why I waited so long to play his second game.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps felt much longer than the first game, Ori and the Blind Forest. It’s a continuation of the first game in that it feels familiar. The world of Will of the Wisps is much larger with so much more to explore. At times I’d get lost or stuck in a loop before consulting the map and choosing a new objective.

I checked my hours played in both games and I played about 17 hours in the first (PC) while I played 30-35 hours of part II (Nintendo Switch) — that’s twice as long! In both games I left some objectives undone, but I made it to the end of the main story which was my goal in both games. Since Ori and the Will of the Wisps took me twice as long to complete I was fine with not reaching that 100% completion.

Something I noticed that was kind of cool but also sort of confusing was any time I’d boot up the game I’d get the XBox Game Studios logo on screen. This felt strange since I was playing on the Nintendo Switch. I’ve heard of people experiencing this playing MLB The Show ’21 on their XBox consoles and seeing the PS Studios logo. It’s a bit jarring, but also very exciting to see these companies finally starting to work together (even if the MLB did force Sony’s hand).

Both Ori games fall into one of my favorite game categories of late, the Metroidvania. It’s a sub-genre named after a combination of Metroid and Castlevania. Metroidvania’s are usually side-scrollers with non-linear level design. You start off with a small portion of the map, and begin to unlock more and more as you gain more abilities. You may even end up in parts that you are not yet ready for early on. The point is to explore the entire map multiple times, learning more and more as you go and unlock more abilities along the way. (That’s my understanding of it based on playing many of them and doing some light research).

Since owning a Nintendo Switch I’ve noticed that many of my favorite games have been Metroidvanias. And I’m always playing at least one metroidvania at all times: Hollow Knight, Steamworld Dig 1 & 2, Guacamelee 1 & 2, Axiom Verge, The Messenger, Narita Boy and many others.

The end of the world?

In Ori and the Will of the Wisps you’re easily able to open up this great big world map as you move along through different caves and tunnels. You also find many dead ends, which you will later be able to use once you have the right skillset. For instance, once you unlock dash, double and triple jump you can reach many new heights. There’s even a special dash that allows you to traverse through sand. This game has many abilities from the first game, along with some brand new ones.

Dashing through the sand in Ori and the Will of the Wisps

The overall design of this game mixes many different types of gameplay. Most of the game is a slow exploration where you’re solving puzzles and searching for secret areas with new abilities and more. There are fights with big and small enemies throughout, including boss fights. There are bonus speed run trials and battle shrines which will unlock extras. There are also the spooky parts of the game. You’ll usually be walking through part cutscene/part gameplay before a big monster pops out and starts chasing you, like these two examples below:

Hide and Seek chase from Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Frog Chase from Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Even though the game mechanics are basically that of a simple side-scrolling adventure, there is so much more to this game. There are many abilities to unlock, which will help you reach new areas. Although you have a map, there are secret areas not on the map leaving you to check every wall and roof for entrances.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps also has a wonderful story with many beautiful characters. The story is full of sadness, friendship and redemption. The voice over work is great and fun since it’s mostly strange sounds and made up dialects. These creatures all have very fun voices. The use of light and Ori’s glow also had me looking around the screen at times exploring the art while playing.

Some fun creatures from the game:

The level design behind this game is what makes it so special. It’s not just the look of the game, although it does look quite amazing. The puzzles throughout the game are very clever, and have so many moving parts. Since you can dash off of enemy attacks and floating light sources, there are parts where you must chain a few different dashes together and once you do you’re amazed with yourself. There were many times that I thought to myself, Wow, I didn’t think that was even possible.

Fog Chase from Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Each environment has it’s own look and feel, including it’s own special music. While some areas are more explorable with slow fantastical music, there are some more dangerous parts with dark, grim sounds. Gareth Coker did a fantastic job with the music for Ori and the Will of the Wisps (along with Ori and the Blind Forest). I still listen to both albums frequently while writing and doing other creative exercises (I even talked about the music in this game in another post I made, Music in Games.

Check out the beautiful scenery and design:

If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias, or just metroids or vanias, I would highly recommend the two Ori games. I would start with Ori and the Blind Forest, then move on to the sequel. I actually contemplated re-purchasing Ori and the Blind Forest on my Switch to replay it before Will of the Wisps, but with so many games to play I decided not to. And I can always go back to Ori 1 on my PC.

I don’t know if there will be a Ori and the [something] of the [something] (aka Ori Part III), but if there is I will definitely find a way to play it. I think after these two games I’m pretty down to try anything that Moon Studios makes in the future.

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