Ori and the Will of the Wisps was playable at the Microsoft media showcase at E3 2018, so being a massive fan of the original, I definitely made sure to get some hands-on time with it at the show. I’m happy to report that all of the awesomeness from the original that made you fall in love with it and its little heroic Ori character have returned in the sequel, albeit with a few new abilities to take advantage of this game’s Metroid-vania approach to level exploration.
I’m not exactly sure at what point in the game the demo took place in, but environmentally it was set in a much more bright and vibrant looking world than what was featured in the original. Exploration, platforming, and combat are still the key gameplay mechanics that flesh out the experience, and each feels just as polished as Ori’s first adventure. The platforming in particular is still a highlight, and Ori still feels very fine tuned in terms of his ability to jump, spin, and dash his way across the map to find new areas that lead to new parts of the map, or at least to items that will help you reach unexplored parts of the map.
Ori had already been leveled somewhat for the demo, so he already had some abilities fleshed out, such as his bow and arrow light attack, and his basic melee attack. Combat still feels precise, but also a bit challenging, because you can’t really just beat the buttons and hope for a win. Enemies make you also take advantage of Ori’s nimbleness, so you definitely have to balance your strikes with Ori’s movements to ensure the quick disposal of pesky enemies.
Exploration is still really everything in this sequel, so you still are presented with the whole map that slowly reveals itself as you make your way from one section to the next. You can see important markers on your map, but you can’t see the exact route until certain sections of the map have been explored, so this keeps you moving forward, but it may also lead you back a few steps to get an ability or item that will help you reach previously unreachable areas.
For example, in the demo I played I had to unlock a new ability that allows Ori to burrow under the sand and then rocket out of hit with a powerful dash. Once I secured this I was able to sand tunnel my way to a new area to keep my momentum going en route to finding the checkpoint the demo tasked me with finding.
The new abilities help to change things up a bit in Ori and the Will of the Wisps, but ultimately the gameplay didn’t feel much different than the original. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because quite frankly I found the gameplay to be near perfect in the original. This is a sequel that looks to build upon the original while maintaining the core tropes of what made it successful in the first place. These are excellent art design, challenging but rewarding platforming, and Metroid-vania exploration. Based on what I played there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy this sequel if you loved the original, so definitely plan on picking this one up if you’re already an Ori fan. If you’re not but still dig Metroid-vania style platformers, then this is also a title worth adding to your radar.
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