The successor to Ori and the Blind Forest seamlessly follows the 2015 fairy tale platformer, a challenging and highly rousing Xbox One game under an enchanting cover that amazes us right from the start.
It is a wonderful painting of orange and red that comes to life on a dozen screens on the stage of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles at E3 2018. In addition to countless other new Xbox One titles, a level of Ori and the Will of the Wisps was playable after the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing concluded and it only took us a few moments until we are immersed in the earth-colored scenery, overlapped by the filigree and defensive spirit of Ori.
Windswept Wastes is the level that the successor to the award-winning Ori and the Blind Forest celebrates its public debut. So far, the world only knows them longed-for sequel from a trailer of last year’s Xbox E3 Briefing. Now, after experiencing about 20 minutes with Ori, which are so lucid, as if the developers had already put the finishing touches on their game.
Accompanied by atmospheric background music, we walk effortlessly with the luminous protagonist over bare rocks and arid wood, jump on platforms and over dangerous thorny bushes. Everything moves in the incessantly blowing wind, tattered flags flutter, in the background lies a red desert landscape covered with fine sand veils. The sand plays an important role in this section, which is reached after only a few hours in the finished game. It has often settled in the fine brush of withered branches. Ori can use such structures as platforms for its journey, but the sand trickles away if you walk on it. Only skillful jumps prevent the fall into the depths below.
Often, however, the sand has buried whole sections. There’s no progress here. For a start, at least. As in the predecessor, the ghostly hero learns and opens an even larger section of the level. In the case of the desert expanses, it’s a Burrow ability that we get as a reward for skillful exploration. From now on, Ori digs into the sand at the push of a button, pierces it as swift as an arrow and shoots out of it up into the air. In this way, more distant areas are opened where, for example, life cells are waiting, which permanently increase the energy bar. Or lights that serve as currency to expand the numerous abilities of Ori or to purchase a map of the level from a merchant.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps puts us to the test. We accidentally jump onto strange beetle and snail-like enemies, which are eliminated with whirling attacks or shining arrows of light. Or we plump mercilessly into the undergrowth, prick ourselves several times at thorns, until we reach a saving footbridge. But the smooth movements quickly pass into the landscape that can be skillfully crossed and one or two secret corners can be reached. With Ori, nothing is coincidence and thanks to the detailed control, this skill can be quickly built up. Until surely another, completely new challenge awaits us in the following section.
We’re happy to learn from our first experiences with the second Ori that the developers are perfectionists who once again can deliver a unique, fascinating lively adventure that should outdo its predecessor in variety, balance, and flair.