Ori and The Will of the Wisps - Owls Carnage Reincarnation (Game Review)
Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Genre: Metroidvanian side-scroller
I finally managed to resubscribe for Game Pass, in anticipation for the sequel to one of the best Indie games of 2015. Am glad to say I am not disappointed, it has excelled at being a better platformer while being much more streamlined with its mechanics.
The previous game for me was great, something new and remarkable on its own but made it difficult to solidify it as a bonafide side-scroller based on the fact that it had pacing issues, backtracking on a derogative level and game feeling little unbalanced in terms of the difficulty. Will of The Wisp greatly improves upon that by focusing more on adding extra weapons arsenal and letting the players choose how they use their abilities as well as allowing making exploration much easier.
The sequel makes a triumphant return to form with a story that takes itself on different themes while continuing the narrative from where it left off.
So returns the Spirit Tree and his child, Ori. With the rest of the family: Naru and Gumo with baby owl, Ku. But after a little trek through the skies with the baby, a storm comes in and separates the two. Ori, once more back into the foray in Niwen goes on a quest to find her while bringing prosperity back to into the land.
Another tall order of a sad yet enchanting tale about how a little white sprite tries to fight against the macrocosm of death, despair, decay, and desecration. While the eponymous character is fighting against all odds, he still has friends in the land to guide through this journey in order to rid the evil that's lurking once more before eventually learning the true demise of such a being existing.
There's a lot of emotions that fly around, putting you in a heightened sense flowing as the story trudges with Ori trying to grasp with the concept that everything has to go, eventually and that some things aren't in our control. It's another tragic story told from the biomass of Niwan itself and ruins it is left in.
Ori is sort of a roguelite, sort of as in taking influences of it and implementing it in its Metroidvania-esque platforming. You'll face a lot of creatures throughout the span of your playthrough. Each requiring different maneuvers to overcome and killing them before they take you out. The sequels ups that ante by adding more of them across in conjunction with both the platforming and combat. Requiring that you study each of them before using your intuition to breeze through the levels.
The biggest change is how the game is streamlined yet more varied. You're more active in combat thanks to the various arsenals you have compared to the little white dinko, who follows you around shooting phasers at foes. This puts you in a position where you have to use whatever you have to adapt in certain situations as the combat in Will of The Wisps isn't as simple as its predecessor was.
Speaking of combat, you can equip multiple weapons and abilities for use for both combat and platform sessions. Each can be unique slotted on whatever 3 of the face buttons prompts you to wish to input at. Each of these can be unlocked or upgraded by visiting different vendors, costing you light orbs which is the only currency in the game for progression.
You can even slot different shards, these are passive abilities like orbs from death creatures floating towards you or being able to stick at walls without pressing the jump button on and on. These too can be purchased and upgraded from vendors, long as you have ample amount of orbs to spend which can be earned repeatedly by grinding on the creatures that respawn.
Then there's the main chore of the game, the platforming. Prior games platforming took more patience, aptitude, and backtracking to find the right path for the main story progression. This game makes it easier to find pathways without most of the backtracking problems that have irritated me in the previous game. Especially with some insanely hyper intuitive platforming that needs you to be on your feet constantly to avoid every trap you find. Exploring to find hidden areas are much easier and makes replayability easier.
Ori also has side activities like time runs where you overrun past a shadow based on the fastest of the online leaderboards to match their time or beat it. It's a nice touch and on the other side, you get side quests that'll give you unique items for use. The reward pool increases the longer you keep playing these side activities. Ori and The Will of the Wisps took me around 15hrs to finish with some of the extra content included. It is by large, one of the best platformers out there, taking one of its best features and expanding upon them in great ways. As sad as it is that this could be the final chapter in the series, it was a great climactic farewell that leaves you with a plethora of emotions while hitting well on its philosophical aspects.
Am bewildered by how they've managed to bring such a vibrant color presentation from the game's visual artstyle. Especially with Unity engine, the visual fidelity even for an Xbox game is really high up the mark. With gorgeous effects and character modeling, smooth background transitions, immaculate texture detail, and perfect animation.
The music is composed by Gareth Coker of recent Darksiders: Genesis and ARK: Survival Evolved. A soothing yet harmonic list of composed tracks that elevate the feel and narrative themes of the game.
The game also ticks the marks for quality sound design. It's all well-rounded.
But I wanna end this segment by saying that this sequel had a buggy release. I am having weird sound bugs, the kind that feels as if something is wrong with my hardware even though it isn't quite the case. Scouring through YT, this problem seems to be pretty common on the PC platform. Not only that, but the Xbox version also has a litany of issues that dampens the experience. I wish Microsoft could fix most of these real soon as it seems like this game wasn't play tested at QA as well as it should have been.
If you can tolerate the bugs, then don't ponder any longer. Just get the game. It's a fantastic release. Another indie success from the Austrian studio and Microsoft themselves.