Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review (PC) | A Perfect Mix Of Ori, Hollow Knight And Zelda

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review (PC) | A Perfect Mix Of Ori, Hollow Knight And Zelda

When talking about Ori and the Will of the
Wisps it’s easy to get bogged down in what the game is and isn’t. It draws on many
influences and mashes them up like I mash up mosquitos with a giant hammer. I mean,
just look at the video title: it’s a bit like Hollow Knight, a bit like Zelda. Those
are two quite different things. Up front, the important point is this: I think
Will of the Wisps is an outstanding game. I’ve spent my 12 hours with it with a huge
grin on my face. My eyes drunk on colour and the endless layers of visual detail. My ears
hum along to Gareth Coker’s sensational soundtrack and my fumbling fingers trigger
the kind of swearing that would get this video demonitised in an instant. In many ways Will Of The Wisps is a perfect
sequel: everything you loved about the first with all the bits you didn’t like smashed
out completely. And I really mean smashed: Ori’s mallet almost-single handedly destroys
the memories of Blind Forest’s bland combat. Paffing a giant brute in the gob with an aerial
combo is videogame bliss. Plus: it’s a spirit weapon. The idea that you’d channel spirituality
into a f**k-off hammer really tickles me. The new Ori loves a good ruckus – and I’ll
get to that in a sec – but it’s still a side note in a game all about liquid platforming.
Most of the abilities Ori collects in the game relate to movement in some way: from
your double jumps and dashes to more exotic grappling hooks and water dashes that fire
you over obstacles like Free Willy escaping the aquarium. And if you don’t like that
film reference: Ori’s dig power basically turns him into a worm from Dune. I really can’t overstate how slick Ori feels
under your fingers: he’s got some of that floatiness of the recent Rayman games – so
very nimble and easy to steer – but the way his moves stitch into huge aerial maneuvers
is like nothing else. I still feel that the Bash ability – which lets you launch from
enemies or projectiles mid flight, to continue your combo – is the best platforming innovation
of this generation. Your feet will never touch the ground. It means Moon can crack out some brutal platforming
gauntlets and the stars of the show are the returning chase sequences where you have to
pull off choreographed acrobatics to escape all kinds of horrible things in pursuit. They
are basically boss fights for platforming. I think they’re slightly easier than before
– or Ori’s new moves give him a few more safety nets – but you emerge the other end
with your pulse racing. If you’d rather enjoy Ori’s moves without
the threat of death, the new time trials dotted around the map that are a great showcase for
what can be achieved. You’re racing the ghosts of other players, and every time you
beat one, you’re given a faster rival – watching other people squeeze more speed out of the
same abilities is a great demonstration for how flexible Ori actually is. I should note,
I played this with a Xbox pad on PC because I haven’t got the finger dexterity for keyboard
platforming – but if you do prefer mouse/keyboard, key rebinding is coming in a day one patch.
Which is good news, as it wasn’t in the first game.c Anyone who played Blind Forest probably expected
the platforming to soar. What they are likely more worried about is the emphasis on combat
in the trailers – trailers that suggest Ori was going to take a page out of Hollow Knight’s
book and shift towards more of an action platformer. Short version: that hasn’t really happened.
There is more combat – better combat – and some massive bosses, but it’s no way near
as challenging as Hollow Knight. So: phew! But you do sense the influence of Hollow Knight,
which came out two years after Blind Forest. Swapping Ori’s homing spark for a sword
shifts combat to a much more intimate dance of death, although Ori always has that Bash
move that lets him fire himself above the battle and take stock, or smash back down
with a hammer blow. The fact that you can buy the massively overpowered hammer in the
first hour, takes off a lot of the edge, too. The relationship between health and energy
also borrows from Team Cherry: Ori has a regenerative power but it uses the same blue energy that
powers his projectile attacks, so you have to sacrifice one for the other. I must admit,
I very rarely strayed from the hammer – which doesn’t cost energy to use – although I
have a lot of time for the anime ferocity of the lance or boosting the bow with some
modifying shards to turn into an insane minigun. Skill shards are very similar to Hollow Knight’s
charms, and let you reshape the action to fit your tastes: I was less interested in
combat so pumped everything into damage modifiers to turn spirit bash into a godhammer and rinse
everything I met. But you could also recalibrate Ori to stretch health further if you’re
getting stuck on boss fights, or give him extra jump and wall stickiness if platforming
is doing you in. It’s a really nice take on difficulty modification and also makes
the shards that much more satisfying to find. A handful of bosses are the few moments where
combat difficulty spikes, but never to an unworkable degree. These are very old school
2D bosses: they broadcast big attacks, have windows of opportunity where you can safely
heal, and most have giant soft skulls that are ideal for whacking with a hammer. Yes,
this is the theme of this review. Some even shift between combat and chase sequences,
although thankfully each phase is checkpointed. So yes: while it has a bit more of the combat
DNA from Hollow Knight, how Ori applies it is very different. I think Ori fans will prefer
it that way. To me, it feels more playful than urgent: because you’re not constantly
on the cusp of death you can play with different weapons and shards, and build an Ori that
suits you. One area I wish Moon Studios had actually
borrowed more from is Hollow Knight’s exploration. After exploring the Hallownest, some of Ori’s
secrets seem a bit more conservative. Sniffing out hidden elements here is more like peeling
layers off an onion, as new abilities bounce you into crevices you might not know existed
the first time you scampered by. What it doesn’t ever do is make you feel
like you’ve discovered a place for the first time: the world can feel like a path you’re
tidying up, rather than a world you’re carving open. I think some of it probably stems from
Ori’s incredible production values. I don’t think Moon can risk building areas that people
can legitimately miss, as is the case in Hollow Knight. I mean, even Will of the Wisps supposedly
‘hidden’ dungeon is marked on the map. One fix for this is to not overuse warp shrines
– a feature that was only added in Blind Forest’s Definitive Edition. When you travel from A
to B on foot you get a better feel for how new abilities are changing your relationship
with the environment. Whether you’re flying over the heads of enemies or unleashing new
kinds of pain on them these old spaces can feel new. But it hasn’t the wow factor of
a Metroidvania map spreading out in surprising ways. In many ways, Will of the Wisps reminds me
more of Zelda than Metroid, largely down to the game’s second act. Here you’re given
the freedom to tackle four areas in an order of your choice: you may as well call them
Zelda dungeons. Each one is self-contained and built around puzzles using the ability
you unlock in that dungeon. So there’s a lot of digging in the sandy deserts, and a reliance
on Ori’s inner glow to cut through the spiderweb darkness. Yes, the original game also used this dungeon
design, but the fact these areas can be tackled in any order means they rely less on powers
found in other regions. The result is some powers don’t get much of a showcase outside
of the area you find them, which is a bit of shame. The flipside, is that you get a
bit of the Mega Man magic, where which power you find first can make other areas a bit
easier. The speedrunning potential is going to be wild. And if the decision to have more self-contained
areas maybe hurts the interconnectivity of the wider world, it does also allow each area
to really dazzle with its own visual identity and puzzle mechanics. The suffocating dark
of a spiders nest is so different to the summer holiday of the Luma Pools, just as racing
against the air meter in the watery depths has a totally distinct rhythm to flinging
yourself around the cogs of a whirling watermill. And If I’m not 100% sold on how all the
world links together, there’s no denying what an amazing job Moon have done of world
building – there’s so much more storytelling in the art, of great civilisations ground
to a halt by the encroaching decay – whether buried in the sand or sinking into the tar
in the nightmarish zone that plays like the Lion King’s elephants graveyard, but for
owls. Oh, and a special pat of the back for whoever created the twitching bug wings ensnared
in the walls of the spider web. It’s beautifully grotesque. Truth is, no games make me happier than Metroidvanias:
it’s that dreamy combination of platforming and action, set in intricate mazes that you
strip of secrets on your path to becoming an unstoppable god. You start off lost and
by the end you’ve mastered the world, and probably collected 10,000 glowing orbs in
the process. And who doesn’t love orbs? It’s my favourite genre and if I go too
long without one I get jittery – last year’s Blasphemous kept me ticking over, but now
I’m feeling bad again and my wife has to hide my clothes and food around my house just
to keep that part of my brain happy. I hope I unlock double jump soon – my shoes are on
top of the kitchen cupboards. So it was a huge relief to see Ori turn up and be as good
as it is. Even if it is that bit more linear in the way it chops up the world, you can’t
argue with a world this pretty, explored with a hero this nimble. That you can play it for a handful of coins
on Xbox Game Pass is crazy to me, so there’s really no excuse not to try this early game
of the year contender. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and if you have any other questions
about it – write them in the comments and I will answer them as soon as I can. If you
really enjoyed this video it would be awesome if you could give it a like and maybe subscribe
to Rock Paper Shotgun – we cover all things PC gaming related. Check out our other recent
reviews in the video description. Thanks for watching and hopefully see you again soon.

15 thoughts on “Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review (PC) | A Perfect Mix Of Ori, Hollow Knight And Zelda”

  1. When one looks at Zelda and Metroid side by side, these games are really similar. I could argue The Legend of Zelda is kinda Metroidvania-ish and Metroid is quite Zelda-esque. And what about Zelda II, I mean, this game is basically Metroid with Dragon Quest vibes 😉 Dark Souls served as an inspiration for Hollow Knight, and what are Soulsborne: the children of Link and Samus. With Ori And The Will Of The Wisps, all make sense.

  2. Matthew's voice and his writing are really nice. I'm not saying it because I love Metroidvania too. I mean it. But if he wants to talk about Metroidvania more, I'm not complaining either. Give him Hollow Knight: Silksong, this guy needs his energy drink. xD

  3. How long did it take you to finish the game? If you did that is. And when you say you can do any dungeon in any order you like, when does it become open for you to decide?

  4. I was so excited for this game simply because The Blind Forest was such a beautiful, emotional experience (which, upon replaying last year, I found to be even better the second time around). I didn't expect Will Of The Wisps to be a genuine GOTY contender, though, yet every review I've seen so far says it's more than worthy of that title.

    Between this, Half-Life: Alyx, Doom Eternal, Cyberpunk, FF7 remake, RE3 remake, and (fingers crossed) Psychonauts 2, I feel like 2020 is just… crammed full of incoming masterpieces.

  5. Great review! This game is stunningly gorgeous, and the soundtrack is crazy. I enjoyed the first Ori quite a bit, but this one feels like a much more meaty, substantial game. Between this and Silksong later this year (hopefully), it should be a great year for fans of the genre.

  6. alright but is it well optimised? does it have options to decrease the graphics? can I play it in my bad pc? because I was able to play the first game (making it a smaller than normal window at least). i would love to play this one too

  7. I definitely get some Zelda vibes from this. And after playing the shite out of Botw and Links Awakening the last few months, it's damn welcome.

  8. I can’t go long without a Metroidvania too! Between Hollow Knight, Ori 1 and 2, Axiom Verge, Blasphemous, Ritual of the Night, the second half of The Messenger, Environmental Station Alpha and some others I’m missing, no other genre shines brighter in the modern era (IMO)

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