The Xbox booth is packed full of games at PAX 2018. Devil May Cry 5, Forza Horizon 4, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Battlefield V and more, but one game we had down as a must-play this year was the sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, so kick back and relax as we give you a tell-all in our hands-on Ori and the Will of the Wisps preview.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps continues the journey of the glowing white guardian-spirit Ori and is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle solving platformer. While the game feels very similar to the first Ori, we soon learnt new abilities and were confronted with new enemies and puzzles to solve. Moon Studios (who are currently independent, but with Microsoft buying lots of developers who knows what will happen…) are doing what they do best in creating a surreal spirit world for you to traverse, and as we’ve seen from trailers and screenshots each level seems to have its own theme and colour scheme, while Ori will gradually become more powerful just like the first.
At PAX 2018 we got to play the Shifting Sands level which involved, yep, you guessed it, a lot of sand. After climbing around basically the whole level we gathered enough light orbs to purchase a map from a merchant. The map then shows you all the different areas as well as items you haven’t collected yet. From there, we were able to easily complete the level and acquire new abilities. A cool new ability in this level is being able to shift through the sand at great speed. Once this ability was unlocked the level really opened up, and we found ourselves exploring all corners of a map which we were previously unable to explore.
This is how Moon Studios gets you to play more of each level and work your way through puzzles. It’s also what gets you to try hard to get through areas which may be impossible due to not unlocking abilities, and we think some players may have been getting annoyed or lost during the PAX 2018 demo. While the game at its core is fairly simple, sometimes with these platformers players expect linearity and Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not linear. It’s okay to get lost or not know what to do, as that’s part of the fun in Ori games.
To sum up, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks like more of the same, but with enough changes and new abilities to keep fans interested. The ability wheel and control layout makes Ori and the Will of the Wisps super easy to pick-up, but also somewhat challenging to master, and we think this game will be quite popular among speed-runners. If each level presents new tactics like the Shifting Sands, then this sequel should be a decent title to play in 2019. We’re a little surprised that the game doesn’t have a release date yet, as it appeared to be more complete than some of the other upcoming games that are nearing their launch.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is due out in early 2019 on Xbox One and Windows PC platforms. For more information, head to the official Ori and the Will of the Wisps website here.