Ori and the Will of the Wisps Review
Ori and the Blind Forest is a seemingly cute platformer that turned out to be a furious subway in reality. It was released in 2015 and currently boasts 88 points on metacritic and 95% positive reviews on Steam. The developers recaptured the cost of production a week after the start of sales. And although the story of baby Ori seemed complete, in this situation it would be strange not to see the continuation.
The sequels often follow the path “faster, higher, stronger”, she’s “give the audience the same thing that she loved in the original, only twice as much.” Ori and the Will of the Wisps were obviously tailored according to the same formula: a map — more, more abilities — more, bosses and deadly catch-ups — more, and the finale can knock out more than just tears from the player — streams.
The main question is: did the sequel with all this good manage to surpass the original? Yes and no. Depends on which side to look at.
BACK TO BATTLE
Ori is a cute animal born of the light of the magic Tree of Spirits. In the first part, he saved the Nibel’s native forest from death and fought with the monstrous owl Kuro. His efforts were not in vain: in the sequel with Nibel, everything is fine, while Ori and his adoptive mother live happily ever after, eat their fill and raise the charming owlet Ku, daughter Kuro.
When she grows up enough to go on her first flight, Ori jumps onto her back, and friends nestle on a bird flock that flies into the forest in the neighborhood — Niven. Unfortunately, the couple fall into a storm and split up. Now, Ori should not only find a girlfriend, lost somewhere in the forest, but also save Niven: the same ailment that once threatened his homeland was prevailing in these lands. The local Spirit Tree that kept Niven from Decline died, and darkness and decay captured the forest. So Ori will again have a great journey in search of Ku … and artifacts that will help revive the forest.
Let the scriptwriters be bothered to come up with a different set, in fact the plot formula repeats the first game one to one. Again, our goal is to revive the Spirit Tree and restore its light. Again, we run through different locations and collect the elements of the main McGuffin, because it is impossible, of course, to get it all at once. Even the antagonist again appears a monstrous owl: this time her name is Creek, and she does not look like Kuro just because of the Decline mutated even in the egg, replenished with a stone shell. It is not clear why Ori has unlearned most of the abilities that he acquired in the first part. Looks like from a good life spilled, the muscles began to hell — so if you please learn again to jerk, and crawl along the walls, and double jump.
However, as you know, the devil is in the details, but there are enough of them. If Nibel remained essentially a picturesque set of platforms and obstacles, then Niven was breathed real life. There is even a logical explanation for this (besides the fact that the sequel has a bigger budget, and the development team has grown from 20 people to 80): Niebel is almost dead, and not the prettiest creatures survived from all of its inhabitants. In Niven, sections were preserved to which the Decline could not reach, where the locals were able to hide from the cataclysm; first of all, these are cozy Spring Fields, which here play the role of an impromptu hub. Therefore, Ori will be able to talk with cute moki, similar at the same time to cats and lemurs, a monkey-expert in martial arts, a bird-traveler and other, even more bizarre creatures. And all of them are not just waiting for an opportunity to chat, but selling skills, upgrades or giving out side quests.
Now the map can be scanned not only in search of areas that will give an extra point of skills or increase the scale of energy or life. Residents of Niven need to build a house, then find a hat, then get a treasure in the sand caves. Naturally, everything is not just like this: for example, as a reward for a long multi-stage quest, where you have to constantly jump from one end of Niven to the other, the location of all hidden objects will be displayed on the map. For help to the gardener in the Spring Fields flowers will sprout, which will help to reach hard-to-reach places. If you find a mysterious stone on the advice of a winged wanderer, you can get a unique skill … In a word, the reward is to open the whole map for it, wander around Niven for a few extra hours and risk the radiant Ori skin. And for other tasks, there are also unexpected sentimental stories that are definitely worth knowing.
FRIENDS AND FOES
In general, with the characters we have to contact often. The leveling tree has been replaced by mystical fragments hidden in nooks, and skills are now bestowed not only on the light of magic trees: many abilities can be bought and improved from merchants. Tailed master Ofer sells combat skills; passions are offered to be purchased from the good-natured Twillen. Instead of stone maps, here is a cartographer who somehow miraculously always awaits Ori in a new location, and even climbing into the most inaccessible place (hello, Hollow Knight). First, you miss the usual chips from the first part, then you get used to it — and you return to the Spring Fields as if to your home, and with the next moki you come to, you stop chatting, just to listen to his touching coo. It is the inhabitants of Niven, many of whom have prescribed their little history and their chamber tragedy, that makes them really immerse themselves in their picturesque fairytale world. Although the work of artists and game designers Moon Studios now and then I want to applaud.
New locations bring new challenges, and not only to players. In Ori and the Blind Forest there were memorable places like the changing labyrinth of the Misty Forest or the Ginzo Tree, but in the sequel they prepared even more beauties, various biomes and cool puzzles. The sultry desert, the mill, the kingdom of ice, the underwater jungle with their riot of pastel colors — almost every location has its own character, atmosphere and key mechanics. Spring Fields beckon with cosiness, and I want to ennoble them not only for Moki kids, but also for themselves. In the Quiet Forest, with its terrible artifacts, in the background, a desire to sneak quietly awakens. When you get into the Overgrown Subsoil, literally groping your way through the pitch darkness, and at some point belatedly notice what the local walls are made of, it becomes really creepy. There are one thing related to all levels: the desire not to remove the finger from the screenshot button. Even if the surrounding beauty is trying to kill you every now and then.
The music of Gareth Cocker again adds a unique flavor, perfectly illustrating the situation. A sad, viscous cello solo underscores the anguish that has spilled over the Quiet Forest. Hearing bizarre harmonies and capricious twists of the theme of a desert location, you imagine a haze of hot air and whirlwinds of a sandstorm without even looking at the screen. An immersion in the darkness of the bowels is accompanied by ominous string tremolo — so that later, when the darkness dissipates, they will be replaced by fast piano overflows and crystal ringing of bells, with sounds depicting the play of light and the flickering of candle lights.
And what bloomed in the sequel, as the flowers in the Spring Fields are closer to the finale, are the fights. In Ori and the Blind Forest, almost all fights could be avoided — it was primarily a platformer, where from time to time it was required to eliminate a particularly important enemy. Here, the platformer was complicated in places (in the first part, the supports did not crumble under your feet and did not try to devour you), and you would have to fight constantly. In addition to the scream, the hero will be hindered by a whole scattering of huge bosses, from whom you will not only have to run headlong. Fortunately, the developers made sure that meetings with opponents face to face turned into pleasure: Ori has no more faithful fighting light, but in the sequel he got hold of a whole arsenal of light weapons — from a simple sword to a spear, bow and shuriken. Combat skills in stock in stock, for every taste … and even in abundance.
MORE DOESN`T MEAN BETTER
Redundancy is perhaps the main minus of the sequel. Ori and the Blind Forest resembles Michelangelo’s sculpture: they cut off all that was superfluous, leaving no more and no less than what is necessary for an ideal (well, or something very close to this). In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, all aspects have been finalized and expanded, but not all of this seems necessary.
In the first part of the skills are few, but everyone is needed and important, especially in the flaming bowels of Mount Horu. Yes, at first the fingers got confused in the keys, but you quickly get used to it. In the sequel from a considerable arsenal, you constantly use five skills, and the rest — only in those locations where there is no way without them. And this can easily be the one and only level, after which the next interesting ability will go into the long box, because there is no further use for it.
It was as if the developers themselves understood this, therefore, for twelve active skills, they provided only three keys to which they can be attached. Basic things like hovering and attracting to objects are not included in these twelve; but they included all combat abilities, healing (perhaps the most useful innovation), a jerk in an arbitrary direction and a light burst. On the three buttons, they are clearly cramped, and as a result, you are often forced to stop and open the skills menu to change one to the other. Strange and not the most convenient solution.
And if there are no complaints about fights, then in platforming you sometimes feel a certain imbalance. On the one hand, there are enough moments in the sequel where you can feel like a pianist: repeating the same difficult place over and over again, until you finally complete an impeccable passage of jumps, jerks and dives into the sand. On the other hand, if you thoroughly rummage around the map, Ori quickly becomes so thick that he can’t do anything with thorns. Especially with the ability to be healed at any time.
As a result, you start to fear only some lava lakes and swamps that kill instantly, you ignore the attacks of small enemies, and climb along the spiky walls almost like usual. Here they even removed the spiritual connection, replacing it with autosaves. Well, so that you definitely do not waste energy, which is useful for recovery.
But the saddest thing is that the plot dipped. The first part was captivating by moving away from boring black and white conflicts, recalling the eternal dualism of light and darkness. The creations of the day and the creations of the night could coexist peacefully, although what seems to be an unambiguous blessing to some may be disastrous for others. Each antagonist (even temporary, like Gumo) moved their understandable motives, which made him sympathize. In the end, everyone was given the opportunity to realize that he was wrong, and atone for his guilt.
Here, all this seemed to be forgotten. The story is still touching and sentimental, but you can safely put an equal sign between “darkness” and “evil” (which is worth one spider monastery, where the thickened darkness instantly kills you as soon as you hesitate). Among the bosses there are enough banal whipping monsters, about which we will never know anything. The same cry does not even give a chance to choose the right path. In the finale, there is an unpleasant feeling that a tear is squeezed out of you in the most vile way: it was very easy to save at least one character, but they didn’t do it, as if because the player would cry better. It begins to seem that the developers simply did not want to repeat all the paths of the first part, because they already repeated a lot, and therefore left a character who did not deserve it, without hope of redemption and a happy ending.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a good game that develops and complements the magical world created by Moon Studios. It is full of beautiful locations, interesting features, cool battles and chases. You can spend much more time in it than in the original, and it has every chance to please both fans of the first part and new players. But she still lost a drop of magic that made her fall in love with Ori and the Blind Forest with all her heart. What to expect: miracles rarely happen twice.
Have a nice day and play just in good games 😀