Last year was the first time I played Ori and the Blind Forest, which absolutely demolished my expectations and was the first title to break me into the Metroidvania genre. Even though it took me a while to come to the table, it has worked out well because I haven’t had to wait long until the sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, graces my screen. In fact, today I even had a chance to play through the demo.
Aside from a brief crash which forced me to restart the demo, my time with Ori and the Will of the Wisps today was very exciting. When it comes to Metroidvanias, I’m always concerned that a sequel will just involve ‘more of the same’, however, if the demo I completed today is any indication, developer Moon Studios have iterated upon their formula in a familiar but tantalising way.
The demo took place in a desert themed zone, which for starters was drop-dead gorgeous, and involved experimenting with an array of weapons while completing typical Metroidvania tasks: Go past an unreachable point, make the point reachable, acquire a power, use the power to access places you otherwise couldn’t at the beginning. In this instance, I received the ‘burrowing’ ability, which allows players to dive into satisfyingly deep sand pits and burst out the other end with a dash move.
It didn’t take long for me to fall back into the Ori groove. The controls are tight as always, the precision required for jumps remain intact, while the lighting and particle effects are so pretty they practically jump out of the screen. Though for me, the most exciting inclusion is the new weapon wheel, which allows players to assign different attacking/defensive abilities to X, Y, and B buttons. Between the lightsaber, the bow, javelin, and giant mace, it’s clear that combat will receive a higher level of focus in the sequel, which is what I felt was ultimately lacking in The Blind Forest.
My only concern was the performance, which struggled to maintain a consistent FPS, though the game isn’t out until next year so presumably that issue will be fixed.