13 Ways Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Improves On The Original

Hello and welcome to Rock Paper Shotgun. Or as I’m rebranding for Ori and the Will
of the Wisps: rock, paper, magical bow thing. I really hope the channel name isn’t taken. This is the sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest
– one of my all time favourite games, certainly the most beautiful. What amazes me is how much has changed in
the sequel, and without disrupting the magic of the first game. So I’m just going dash through it as fast
as I can, like a little forest spirit trying to avoid getting crushed. And crushed again. And again. And again. Oh, and again. Okay, listen, this is going to be mentally
scarring, let’s move on. The game is out on March 11th,- included on
the Xbox Game Pass on both Xbox One and PC, so you could be playing it for pennies. And here’s why you should. To say that the opening hours of Will of the
Wisps feels like Ori and the Blind Forest is a bit misleading: they feel like Blind
Forest stuck on fast forward. Powers you amassed over several hours are
practically thrown at you: double jump, wall jump, dash (technically from the Definitive
Edition). Most importantly you get the Bash ability
even more quickly. This is the power that lets you springbroad
from enemies or projectiles, firing them off in the opposite direction as you fling yourself
to new heights. Turning Ori into a pinball this early in the
game means Moon can get sneaky with hidden bits from the off and focus on adding new
moves. Such as this grapple, which lets Ori cosplay
as Spider-Man. It’s a mystic tendril that attaches to lamps
and other climbable surfaces such as these grassy walls. Zipping towards lamps may bring to mind the
bash power, but the grapple reach is longer and you don’t have that brief pause to decide
where you want to jump next – once the grapple is going you need to keep your hands in the
cart at all times as you’re committing to that ride whether you like it or not. Very useful when you’re hooning through
what looks like an intestinal tract made out of spikes. And I love the added scale it gives to the
chase sequences where that extra long reach lets you zip Ori out of a watery grave. And what better place to test it than the
Wellspring, a new dungeon that starts with a hilarious panning shot of all the things
that are going to kill you: there’s those purple things, that monkey’s probably got
rabies, er, a big load of spikes, some fun round spikes, oh yep, more round spikes here,
oh god even more of them, we’re getting quite high, probably drop to your death from
here, ooh more spikes, and spikes on the roof in case you don’t get the point. That’s a spike joke. Get the point? Er, anyway! What I adore about the Wellspring is that
like the dungeons in Blind Forest it has a big mechanical hook all of its own. In this case you are murdering the plant-slash-creature
that is living inside the cog wheels, and freeing up the building in the process. Of course, the more plant you kill, the more
dangerous the level becomes as giant wheels begin to spin over pits of spikes and Ori
uses this new climbing grass to hold on for dear life. I must admit, I’m a tiny bit obsessed with
levels that transform in front of your eyes and force you to constantly realign yourself
in new platforming layouts. It’s a trick that was amazing in Super Mario
Galaxy and Rayman Legends, and seeing this gigantic room rotate into fresh platforming
calibrations is just achingly clever stuff. It’s also here you get the juiciest taste
of what higher resolutions bring to the game: maintaining all that pinsharp detail as the
camera pulls back and back and back. Another great idea: the smaller wheels spin
so fast they can fling Ori further – adding even more twists to his already acrobatic
move set. It’s hard to think of another recent platforming
hero – St Mario aside – where designers had such fun with pure physicality. Loads of games let you jump and dash, but
very few will fling. It’s a great verb we don’t see enough
in games. And of course, the moment you grasp the basics,
Moon slam you into one of their signature chase sequences… One tiny change I want to highlight here. I spoke to the game’s composer Gareth Coker
and he told us how he’s subtly changed the music in the chases to reflect an older and
wiser Ori. He says “Ori isn’t a kid anymore. He’s done some stuff, went through quite
a ride in Blind Forest and the music reflects that. Where in the first game the chases are a terrifying
thing for Ori, these chase sequences are more ‘oh am I doing this again’. It’s a subtle change in how the music makes
you feel.” I love Gareth’s idea that the music is from
Ori’s point of view, showing us what he’s thinking as the madness unfolds. If you are into Coker’s music – and come
on who isn’t – you’re in for a treat: he told us the album clocks in at 186 minutes
compared to the original’s 92. So a lot of tunes to come. Music to our ears. Er, literally. Along similar lines, Gareth also says boss
fights should feel like ‘oh my god, I’ve never experienced this before’ and it’s
easy to see why. Where Blind Forest never grew its combat beyond
smaller enemies, Will of the Wisps is stuffed with boss brawls. I’ve seen a couple in the first two hours. A giant beetle is a proper old school bit
of 2D boss design: he has a couple of attacks, signposts them clearly and pushes Ori’s
moveset to breaking point as you dodge them. He even has a fat orange butt, in case you
don’t know exactly where to stick your laser sword. But I’m more interested in the way bigger
boss encounters weave together fighting and fleeing. I get to meet Howl, a giant wolf you have
to escape before turning on him with a flaming torch, but Gareth also tells us about encounters
that shift from combat to chase and then back to combat, letting Ori turn the tables in
a heroic finale. Either that or you’ll throw your 14th controller
out the window in rage. Or mouse and keyboard if you really want to
wreck your house. Mentioning fighting there is a great time
to dig into Ori’s newfound love of extreme violence. Yes, Ori and the Will of the Wisps enters
Ori’s stroppy teenage years, as he decks woodland creatures with swords, mallets and
arrows. The idea of adorable Ori finally snapping
and going full-on John Wick is adorable, but I was worried that the combat would weigh
down such a light-footed hero. The game’s producer Daniel Smith joked with
me that fighting had to be addressed in Will of the Wisps as a matter of continuity. If you recall, your attacks in the first game
came from Ori’s sidekick Sein, who was, spoiler alert, placed into a tree to heal
the forest. It would be unkind to tear that poor creature
out of the tree for round two. So Moon turned to melee combat: you get the
Spirit Edge, a beam sword with a delightfully swishy combo that makes it very easy to hang
in the air battering mosquito things, or chopping the heads of creatures beneath you. Considering that the first game’s weapon
was a homing projectile that did much of the work for you, this is a far more physical
action, and without losing Ori’s ethereal nature. Speaking of ranged combat, the real revelation
is the Spirit Arc bow. After Blind Forest’s homing spark, it’s
so great to actually aim the bow and take responsibility for your actions. Okay, the Light Burst grenade in Blind Forest
Definitive Edition was maybe a dry run for this, but here it opens up a huge range of
Zelda-like puzzles, as you splat switches to unfold new platforms or try to push around
a heavy block using a combination of switches. If you saw how much I messed up this basic
puzzle, you’d take away my YouTube channel. Producer Daniel Smith says they tested Ori’s
brawling in sandbox combat rooms and I think some of this influence remains in Will of
the Wisps in all the places you’re locked in with a bunch of nasties and have to claw
your way out, like that mad prison hole Bane lived in The Dark Knight Rises. But, y’know, cute. Again, there was a bit of this in Blind Forest,
but here you actually look forward to the fights. This really comes into play in Spirit Shrines,
which throw waves of enemies at you with the promise of a reward at the end. Such as another slot for Ori’s shard modifiers,
which i’ll explain in a second. These contained fights remind me of Guacamelee,
which is another Metroidvania with a deep brawling system. In fact, the way Ori’s bash move chucks
creatures around is just like the luchadore throws in that earlier game. To Moon Studio’s credit, they’ve not sacrificed
momentum with any of this. Quick energy sword combos have a wicked sting
to them, and the way three attacks are mapped to face buttons on a controller allows you
to slip from blade to bow to fiery explosion with total ease. When Daniel tells us about being able to enter
the ability radial dial and reconfigure attack buttons mid-combo you begin to see this as
Ori’s audition for the next Devil May Cry. Hell, he can even use that grapple attack
to fly towards enemies, which has Big Nero Energy. Honestly, after a few hours the combat moves
so seamlessly you begin to hanker for a combo meter, wanting to see how much you can stitch
everything together. It’s really great stuff. And if you are still struggling? This is where the Shards come in – new modifiers
and buffs you can equip to gradually respec Ori. If you’ve played Hollow Knight, it’s basically
the charms system. The producer Daniel says one of the aims is
to flatten the skill tree, which actually sounds like the kind of deforestation Ori
wouldn’t support. What it means is no skill tree to work through,
so no having to unlock bad skills to get the one you actually want. Already in these early hours we find Splinter,
that splits arrows, Quickshot that speeds up the bow, Magnet, to absorb orbs, and Overcharge
that halves energy costs but doubles the damage taken, which is an enticing bit of risk versus
reward. Or how about Sticky, that lets Ori cling to
walls. That last one was an unlockable ability in
Blind Forest, and the fact that it’s now an optional skill shows how much you can reshape
Ori. If you want to go speed running, maybe you
don’t want Ori glueing to surfaces, but if you struggle with platforming then equip
away. Some shards can also be upgraded – at least
three levels of upgrade from what I’ve seen – so you can add even more arrows or shoot
even faster. A thing that I love about the Shards is that
they are a hidden collectible with genuine purpose. If you work hard to find one, it can have
a positive impact. And this logic extends through Will of the
Wisps. Sure, you’ve got traditional health and
energy increases, but Moon also introduce side missions that add a layer of narrative
purpose to a lot of items. This might be finding a hidden item requested
by a character – this compass needle helps an explorer inside the Wellspring, for example. Or maybe finding characters is the quest itself. There appears to be a huge trading sequence,
like in Zelda: Link’s Awakening, where you take one item to one character to get a new
item for the next character. What waits at the end? I hope it’s an unlockable John Wick costume
for Ori. Also worth noting: going back and forth between
characters makes this a more non-linear experience, something Daniel says we’ll really see in
the second act where the quest line forks in two directions and you can tackle main
challenges as you want. Another item you collect from well disguised
hidey holes is Gorlack Ore, which you use to revitalise Wellspring Glade, which acts
as a new central hub area. Handing ore to Grom the builder starts a grand
project of urban renewal: building a Spirit Well lets Ori teleport out at will, while
clearing the thorns looks like it opens up hidden areas in the glade. Next thing you know it’ll all be hipster
coffee shops and Ori can’t afford to live here anymore. The hub is home to many NPCs, which shows
how much fuller Will of the Wisps is compared to Blind Forest. There are the Moki looking for a home – that’s
more ore for Ori to collect – there’s a creepy guy called Twillen who’ll sells shards
you won’t find in the world and will upgrade the ones you already have. Along a similar line is Opher who sells new
moves to equip to your face buttons – it’s really going for that wider RPG vibe. I’m not really sure what Niwen’s deal
is, but he’ll show you your detailed stats breakdown, which feels a bit like rubbing
your embarrassing death count in your face. Screw you Niwen! Speaking of death, one change I was unsure
about is dropping the Soul Link system of the first game. In Blind Forest, instead of automatic saving
you’d place manual checkpoints using your energy – the risk being that the more checkpoints
you dropped, the less combat power you have. It was a delicious risk versus reward mechanic
that gave the game distinct character. As I say, the system is now dead – ironic
as it usually saves you from death. Daniel Smith admits that for every person
who loved it, there was someone it frustrated. Smith also makes the case that losing Soul
Link frees up another controller face button, which enables that fluid combat system outlined
earlier. Will of the Wisps uses autosaves to track
your progress, but it isn’t the only way Moon are smoothing sharp edges. Where in the last game one wrong save could
lock you into an impossible situation – maybe low on health in particularly nasty platforming
sequence – you can now open the menu and abandon your run, return to the Wellspring Glade to
level up weapons and abilities and shards and come back later to have another go. This on top of the returning difficulty modes
introduced in the Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition. Ultimately, the challenge is still stiff,
though it’s definitely a gentler intro than the original – or maybe I’m just an Ori
pro. Maybe not. And if you do like to challenge yourself,
you should turn to Spirit Trials, which are competitive time trials – and a huge nod to
the game’s speed running community. To trigger a time trial you need to find both
the start and the finish line – I didn’t in my demo, so this is old Gamescom footage. Once you do, you can race from A to B, accompanied
by ghost replays of other players – beat those ghosts and in your next race you’ll have
a higher bracket of ghosts to take on. It’s not the first game to do this – if
you’ve played Mario Odyssey on Switch or Rayman Legends, you’ll know how addictive
these modes can get, especially once you start learning new tricks from other ghosts. Engage with it and you could by pulled into
the world of speed running. I look forward to donating to you at next
year’s Awesome Games Done Quick. One creature that won’t be competing in
the time trials is this giant bear. I’m always interested in the tricks Metroidvania
use to block off progress until you have the right equipment, and I’m pretty sure this
it the first time a designer has used a massive bear. I love this guy. Er, even if I did explode a fireball in his
face. Apologies to Yogi. Anyway, I think a bear the size of a bus is
a good place to wrap up. I hope this video has captured some of my
excitement for Ori and the Will of the Wisps – it’s not everyday you get a sequel to
one of your favourite games. Although, it’s er, arguably happening a
lot in March. Moving swiftly on… please share your thoughts
on Ori and the Will of the Wisps in the comments and if you have any questions about what I
played or have talked about, I will answer those in the comments too. If you did enjoy this video I’d love it
if you subscribed, or the very least watch some of our other videos to see what we are
about. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll hopefully
see you again soon.

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