Ori and the Will of the Wisps does what all good sequels do and takes everything I loved about The Blind Forest, and changes just enough to make it still feel familiar, while changing it up quite a bit. With this still being my initial foray into Metroidvania style games, I tried to really branch out at the beginning and change my playstyle and weapons to everything that I was unlocking, but just like how I normally play games, I found myself switching back to the same few things unless I absolutely couldn’t progress any further, then switching back again.
After the events of the first Ori game, they help the little owl who hatched and he starts to grow up, you get to see him hop and play, but then he gets taken away and lost. It’s up to Ori to go find him, and that’s where the adventure begins. Gone is the little fairy that shot projectiles from a distance, and you are given a sword and the combat is more melee focused. This isn’t a bad thing, and makes this game feel more tactile and fluid, taking time to come up with strategies on how to defeat certain enemies. That’s also a big thing here too, as there are actual boss battles now, and I breezed through them, unlike the last game, where there weren't any bosses, but escape levels that became quite frustrating.
There are escape levels as well, but nothing too bad, nothing like the brutal difficulty of the original. Yeah, you still have to memorize the layout and time everything, but they aren’t nearly as long, and a tad bit forgiving this time around. Honestly, most of the game really isn’t too difficult either. There were times that I was struggling to get away from an encounter, but being able to heal whenever I wanted and use tons of powerups to either get more life or convert magic energy into life really made the game quite easy.
This Ori game is also a good chunk larger, and has much more exploration. With maps and many many more characters to interact with and lots of side quests as well. That is a big difference from the first game as well. Throughout your travels, Ori will come in contact with many other characters, some who want something, others to give hints on how to progress or some that just want to talk a bit. There is a Blacksmith who uses ore to reconstruct buildings and fix things throughout the world, there is a map maker, and will uncover the locations of special collectables for extra health and energy.
There are also combat shrines that can give a bit of a challenge and allow you to unlock a new ability slot. These slots will let you change out shards that you will come across throughout the game. Sometimes these Shards will grant you new abilities, like sticking to walls or triple jump. Some will be more passive abilities, like letting enemies drop more energy or life orbs. Some will make the enemies more difficult or even swap power ups around. It’s nice, but some shards just felt like they HAD to be there and shouldn’t have been able to be taken out (like the sticking to walls or triple jump).
Ori 2 is just an all around pleasant experience from beginning to end, with beautiful visuals like something out of a Don Bluth cartoon and just enough emotional weight to it’s story for me to get a little choked up at times. Factor in the ability for this game to be technically free with Microsoft’s Gamepass on both Xbox and PC, and this game is a no-brainer that is worthy to be played, although you’d be missing out if you skipped the first one.