Somehow, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has managed to find room for a new style of gameplay in amongst its platforming beauty. It’s obvious from the trailer that Will of the Wisps has more of a combat focus, and our time with the game reinforced that idea.
A level designer on the game told us it was an element they consciously targetted. “We felt like combat was something that was a bit absent in the last game, so we really wanted to nail it this time,” he said.
Wanting more combat wasn’t a common sentiment among players of the first Ori. It’s certainly not the takeaway we had. We loved its platforming challenges, beautiful animation, and heartwarming, understated story.
But happily, Ori and the Will of the Wisps doesn’t lose focus on any of its other elements.
All Glory to Ori
Ori and the Will of the Wisps still beautifully animated, and the worlds still use copious bloom effects to create a magical playfulness between light and dark. The forest still seems to come alive.
Platforming is still quite challenging, and the Metroidvania elements are still there. Tunnelling through sand was a particularly dazzling sight, and obtaining that ability gave us access to areas on the other side of what we previously assumed was just sandy ground.
Ori has a horizontal dash, which can be used with a double jump. There’s also a boost that can be done when coming out of the sand. Using these moves together, you’ll try to get as much height as possible to get to hard-to-reach areas and items. We found it was easy to almost get there — but getting that little bit of extra height can be challenging.
Sometimes, gaining access to a new area was as simple as hitting a destructible wall. This would, however, mean you couldn’t climb it to get to the area above.
Will of the Wisps‘ Combat
Ori fans picking up Will of the Wisps for the first time will instantly notice a lot more in the way of RPG combat systems. Ori’s default sword is used to slash through enemies that previously would have been defeated with less straightforward – but more interesting – means.
There are different weapons available as well. We switched to a larger, slower hammer (which also seemed to be made of light). This was much harder to score a clean hit with, as enemies will quickly pounce at you, but it took off almost all of their health.
Grenades are an option, too. You can select these weapons on a radial menu, so you could feasibly switch mid-fight for whatever enemy you’re facing.
There are also defensive “talents” to pick, for lack of a better word. The UI made it look like we could store five at a time, though we only unlocked two during our play session. One of them was taking 30% less damage across the board.
What’s the Story, Morning Ori
Ori has more friends now, as well. Throughout the forest, you’ll find NPCs in need of help, or shopkeepers.
We had just enough currency to buy a map of the current area to see which bits of sand we hadn’t tunnelled through yet. Other characters you meet will send you on side quests.
This is again somewhat of a departure, and again, one that doesn’t detract from the core Ori experience. Some players may appreciate having these objectives, but they absolutely don’t get in the way of that raw exploration. It’s great that Moon Studios has managed to add new elements without impeding on the core Ori experience.
All of this means you’ll be selecting an offensive and defensive build for Ori in Will of the Wisps, and treating the world as though it were a bit more of an RPG.
The developer staffing the booth promised some crazy boss fights to come, which will no doubt make use of all these new combat systems. You can see a glimpse of boss-like creatures in the above trailer.
All of which is well and good, but we’re most excited about the fact that there’s more Ori, and it seems just as good as before.