Review – Ori and the Will of the Wisps: Net of personal tastes and futile (and obsolete) console war, Ori and the Blind Forest can be counted among the best titles of the generation that is coming to an end, and certainly one of the reasons for pride for all owners of Microsoft machines , at least until the recent landing on the Nintendo Switch. That’s why, despite the arrival of big guns in spring, Ori and the Will of the Wisps , a direct follow-up to the creature from Moon Studios, was among the titles we were eagerly awaiting.
If you want to find out if our hopes were well placed, all you have to do is keep reading.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps , as if no more than its predecessor, brings its story to the player’s ears as if it were music, using a light, barely whispered narrative, shown instead of told, as gentle as a summer breeze. A new life sprouts in the great family of the forest of Nibel, where Ori and his friends continue to live in the peace restored at the end of the progenitor.
Yet, life knows how to reserve surprises that are not always pleasant and Ku, the little owl that Ori himself holds in his arms during the opening sequences, seems unable to fly, due to a problem in the right wing.
The unconditional love that Ori and his friends feel for each other leads them to help each other and grow in friendship, but this does not seem to be enough for the little owl, darkened by the impossibility of soaring in flight.
As all those who have already dressed in his clothes a few years ago will know, Ori is not the type to lose heart so easily: finding a huge feather from Ku’s mother, he asks Gumo for help, to mend it as best he can. of its possibilities on the imperfect wing of the owl, giving it back the gift of flight.
A liberating flight with Ori on the back, on the notes of a splendid arrangement by Gareth Coker, is the following, at the end of the animated introductory phase, but, you know, the unexpected is always around the corner: a storm as sudden as violent divides the two friends, making them fall into the lands of Niwen, once green and welcoming but now dark and dangerous.
From here, an adventure no less epic than the one we had already experienced in Nibel will unfold, with the same intention of restoring the light and bringing a smile back to lands marked by deep scars.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the bearer of messages of friendship and love with a style and a loveliness not so common in the videogame field , letting the message pass that every form of love shared between creatures, even very different ones, can be called ” family ”: it is the bonds created between the characters, who also do not utter a word, that give strength to the story, contextualizing and motivating the player’s actions.
It is these narrative mechanisms that ensure, for example, that a deep feeling of sadness takes hold of the most sensitive players when, not finding Ori and Ku at the end of the storm, Naru, after having searched for them incessantly in the dark and in the rain, he sinks his face into his hands, desperate and inconsolable despite Gumo’s embrace.
The narrative technique of less is more , then, returns after the success of the progenitor, and an animation is enough to convey the feelings of the characters on the screen.
On balance, we would not say that fiction is one of the strengths of production, but the way in which it is conveyed can certainly make school for all independent studios that intend to enter the videogame market.
There is more than meets the eye
As the title suggests, the work Moon Studios is readable (and playable) on several levels, and re-proposes the basic structure of the prequel by expanding a whole series of playful concepts, with the result of a larger, more varied and customizable product than what it preceded it.
Like all direct sequels, finding the balance between the familiarity of certain mechanisms and the injection of novelty in order not to make everything a simple more of the same represents one of the most difficult challenges, and it is precisely in this field that the Austrian team, now the spearhead of the Microsoft team, he has won his bet.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is immediately recognizable for all those who have spent even a handful of hours with the predecessor , yet it has enough news to make this second adventure attractive to them too (if not especially to them), because the feedback of the community were almost all listened to and action was taken, surgically, on the (few) criticalities present in Ori and the Blind Forest .
Given a classic metroidvania structure, with a huge interconnected map graced by a superfine level design, Ori and the Will of the Wisps slightly shifts the balance of the first episode, consistently enriching the combat phases and allowing greater character customization, and with it the whole game experience .
Looking at Hollow Knight , the undisputed reference point of the genre to date, the developers have abandoned the skill trees seen in the first chapter , basing the progression of the character on a system of fragments, found in the most hidden game areas and purchasable by one. specific non-player character.
As you progress through the adventure, completing, specifically, the combat tests scattered around the map, the player frees additional slots compared to the initial three, in which to equip more Fragments.
The effects of the latter range from the possibility of clinging to surfaces to that of taking less damage, or, alternatively, of inflicting and suffering more. Each fragment is upgradeable up to a maximum level, and is particularly useful in certain situations: experimenting with different builds is a pleasure unknown even to fans of Ori and the Blind Forest , and one of the best achievements of Ori and the Will of the Wisps .
The sword of light that Ori will be able to equip from the first moments of the game, which will then be flanked by additional offense tools both short and long-range, gives new depth to the combat system, which, while remaining secondary to the exploration phases and platforming, is now of much greater importance (and physicality) than in the recent past.
The enemies have slightly increased in number, with a respawn rate roughly in line with that seen in the debut chapter, and it is essential to learn to recognize the attack patterns in order not to come out battered especially from clashes with multiple enemies.
This is even more true for boss fights, another very welcome novelty: each macro area is manned by a boss significantly larger than ours, and, just like in the best chapters of the Zelda series (another franchise to which Moon Studios has no never made a mystery of being inspired), the essence of the battle, rather than the action itself, is the encoding of enemy movements and patterns, as in the best puzzle games.
Another feature that raised more than one eyebrow at the release of Ori and the Blind Forest was represented by the save system, here completely revised : in addition to the ability to save by exiting the game, with the certainty of resuming exactly from the same point. , the game has a fairly generous auto-save feature, which is also one of the main reasons why this sequel is much more accessible than the debut title.
On balance, this choice turns out to be a winner: in addition to lowering the entry barriers of the title, facilitating the life of those who, even if fasting for similar titles, will be kidnapped even by the wonderful artistic direction, the frequency of bailouts pushes to experiment and explore without the hassle of losing precious resources, rewarding the most curious and those who are not satisfied with seeing the credits of a game after having pulled straight to them.
And it would be a real shame to miss all the additional content included by Moon Studios in Ori and the Will of the Wisps : in addition to a good number of secondary missions , some of which are cryptic and therefore require a fair amount of intuition on the part of the player, there is an overall duration practically double that of the original title , which we finished in about twelve hours.
Here, leaving behind some secondary missions for reasons of time, we stopped at about twenty-one hours of gameplay, and we can’t wait to return to Niwel to go and find the secrets and power-ups hidden in certain areas of the map.
In this (well deserved) panegyric, is there also something that has not thrilled us?
If we will talk about some small technical stumbling blocks in the next chapter, we would like to focus on the general balance of the difficulty , which we found a little lacking.
Throughout the first part of the adventure, or for a good ten hours, Ori and the Will of the Wisps proves to be much more condescending than the title that preceded it : while some decidedly difficult platform phases remain, the frequency of automatic saves and the absence of real death penalties return a product suitable even for less savvy players, who will go a long way … before hitting a wall.
Starting from the third last explorable zone, the Moon Studios product not only aligns itself with the harsh level of challenge offered by its predecessor, but manages to do even worse in certain situations, between enemies that bomb from a distance and platform phases that require precision to to say the least millimeter.
In itself, as our most loyal readers will know, we do not disdain a good challenge from a video game, but a title that aims from the beginning to attract new audiences should maintain a more constant difficulty curve , avoiding frustration especially in less skilled.
We fear that this imbalance, net of possible future patches that could fix the issue, could discourage those who were not already forged by the level of difficulty of the franchise, with the consequent abandonment of many intermediate bailouts.
Feast for the eyes
The technical and artistic sector of Ori and the Will of the Wisps managed to surprise us several times, and after playing both the prequel and its Definitive Edition, frankly, we did not expect it: the only problem is that not all the surprises have been positive – but let’s go in order.
The first thing that catches the eye is how the Moon Studios graphic team has managed to surpass themselves once again: the magnificent views seen in Ori and the Blind Forest have been surpassed, incredibly, by new biomes equally attractive, but even more defined .
Enchanted marshes, silent forests, snowy peaks and dark underground caverns are just some of the landscapes in which we will be called to move, and each of them consists of sublime drawings, a specific set of enemies and a series of animations to leave you speechless. for fluidity and verisimilitude.
The native 4K resolution on Xbox One X and full support for HDR make the visual sector a real spectacle, returning a series of real moving pictures, in which we are often surprised to stop, between a platform and the another, to fully appreciate its breathtaking beauty.
Golden sunsets alternate with threatening storms, huge animal cemeteries give way to mills that seem to come from the Dutch hinterland, flowering trees follow one another, without interruption, to landscapes where snow and silence are the masters.
Other words would sound redundant, but know that we do not think we are exaggerating if we say that, on a purely artistic level, we are facing one of the most visionary and fascinating titles in the entire Microsoft catalog .
How not to mention, then, the majestic soundtrack signed by Gareth Coker, already acclaimed author of that of the first chapter? Winds, choirs, violins and piano blend to perfection, emphasizing the topical moments and accompanying, without ever overwhelming it, the playing action.
Not surprisingly, the collector’s edition of the game will also include the entire soundtrack on disc: here too, as for the art direction, we are at the top of Microsoft’s first party productions.
Unfortunately, as we said, the surprises are not over: after the refined and velvety experience of the Definitive Edition of Ori and the Blind Forest , we did not expect to run into a series of problems that have marked our hours of testing and that a substantial patch day one (almost the same size as the game itself) seems to have fixed it for the most part.
Although the hours of testing were all spent on Xbox One X , we encountered rare stuttering phenomena and some occasional drop in framerate, which, however, following the release of the aforementioned patch, remains anchored to sixty frames per second in the vast majority of cases.
The game, on the other hand, runs on a customized version of the Unity Engine which, despite being a reliable and flexible engine, has reported small problems with performance in other cases, including recent ones.
Nonetheless, the doubts we had before the release of the patch, and which were at the basis of our little postponement of the publication of this review , were all dispelled in the last hours of the game, when, already after the release of the first of two patches that will be applied to the game before its debut, we returned to the areas that had previously given the most problems, without encountering any.
To be fair, none of the initial issues had stopped us from enjoying the game , and none of the game overs we ran into were even remotely attributable to them, but the situation couldn’t be said to be quite as rosy on the Xbox base model and on Xbox One. S.
Having overcome these problems, then, quite common in this generation of consoles before the fateful patch day one, what remains is a metroidvania that exudes style and talent , and which consecrates the guys of Moon Studios to the role of one of the best software houses in the Microsoft stable.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Conclusion
Although they are enough to stop Ori and the Will of the Wisps rating one step away from excellence, the uncertainties of the frame rate and the revisable balance of difficulty of the new title Moon Studios do not prevent it from entering, by right, the list of best console exclusives of the entire Xbox One lifecycle .
The completeness of the level design, the unprecedented role-playing vein, the renewed combat system all combine to create one of the most interesting metroidvania of this generation of consoles. The classic icing on the cake is represented by an amazing audiovisual sector, able to kidnap the senses and immerse yourself in a fairytale world. Its presence since day one in the full-bodied range offered by Xbox Game Pass makes it an absolute must play, which you should not miss for any reason.
Positives of Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Familiar, but not without novelty
- 4K and HDR make it visually magical
- More customizable than the first
- Light but pleasant role dynamics
- Amazing soundtrack- Some technical stumbles also on Xbox One X and even after the patch
Negatives of Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Difficulty balance not always perfect
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Bio
|Release date||March 11, 2020|
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows|