Ori and the Will of the Wisps
I rewrote this post twice because the previous versions of it seemed way too emotional, so I decided to calm down and pull myself together. I still want to write more essay-ish things than the default reviews that you get in abundance right after the game release so here I go.
For me, thinking about the Will of the Wisps inevitably brings forward the questions about sequels. People are hard to please in general. One sequel comes out and gets hated because it "does not bring anything new to the table". It's more of the same, a successful formula of the original title that the devs used once again. Another sequel comes out and gets downvoted because "the devs strayed too far from the original, there is little common ground, the series is not what it used to be". Yet another sequel comes out and is showered with praise because people just wanted "the same thing but more", like it was with Borderlands 3 or Cat Quest II. It's just more Borderlands and it's okay.
I expected Ori to stay the same in terms of its genre: a metroidvania with the focus on challenging platforming and occasional combat. I couldn't even think that this proportion could change. Ori and the Blind Forest, in my opinion, has a great balance between platforming sequences and platforming bosses, like escape from Ginzo tree, and combat that was there to liven things up. I expected a brand new area, a new story and many new enemies, new platforming skills or maybe some unusual upgrades to double jump or my favourite bash.
Ori and the Will of Hollow Knight
I love Hollow Knight. I would play it 24/7 but I've got life, for better or for worse. It's my comfort game, it helps me relax. Because I know HK so well, I can recognize it in other games too. You can say that HK does not hold exclusive rights to the basic metroidvania mechanics: there are many games in this genre, they all use pretty much the same principles. Of course, you are right: I don't see any game holding a patent for the wall jump ability or for pogo-jump. That's not what I mean. There are some aspect that seem to be borrowed directly and in such an obvious manner that my goosebumps had goosebumps while I was playing the first few hours of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I'll give some examples:
Cornifer and Lupo
Map Stones from the Blind Forest are not around anymore but you can still get your bearings by buying a map from Lupo the Cartographer with the in-game currency. Both NPCs and currency are concepts new to Ori since the Blind Forest had neither. Here it's important to say that in the Blind Forest searching for the Map Stone and then for its pedestal was always something of a mini sidequest; the Map Stone was often hidden in a secret area or served as a reward for a platdorming puzzle. The map itself was hardly necessary, it was just a pleasant side activity and another type of challenge.
In Hollow Knight, on the contrary, the map is paramount to your survival. There is a guy name Cornifer, he is a cartographer that you will almost certainly find somewhere near the entrance to the new area or not too far from it. He sells you the map for X currency but the map you get isn't complete: it has the middle section of the area and some of the more obvious side paths. The rest of the map is yours to fill as you explore with the quill that Cornifer's wife sells in her shop. The map updates every time you rest at a checkpoint. If you don't find Cornifer and don't purchase the map itself as an item - you will not be able to chart the area and will be left completely in the dark.
The same cartographer concept but totally different levels of usefullness. Let's see why Cornifer from HK is vital to the exploration:
- You are almost always gueranteed to find him somewhere near the entrance to the new area because the level architecture was designed in such a way;
- Cornifer will give you the most important part of the map so you can get your bearings: you will see the path you came from so you can return if you so wish, most likely a nearby checkpoint and the main sidepaths so you can continue exploring. The map doesn't reveal everything, it most certainly reveals no secrets and neither Cornifer nor his wife sell any perks to show the resources or hidden rooms. Explore on your own.
- Because of the tone of the game and its gameplay features, searching for Cornifer is always the highest priority you have when entering a new area. Cornifer is essential for exploration and survival.
Moon Studios added their version of Cornifer into the sequel but unfortunately did not make him even somewhat important:
- Lupo is not in any way connected to the level architecture, the game does not guide you to him. Very often Lupo was the last point of interest I discovered. Sometimes he is hidden so you won't find him until you've scoured through the entire area. When you finally discover him - he is useless, you already have explored everything.
- The areas in the Will of the Wisps are really spacious and they don't have that important middle part. Because of the more relaxed tone, absence of checkpoints (save whenever you like) and less hardcore gameplay, you don't need the map at all to traverse the game with comfort.
Lupo as a map provider is even more useless than Map Stones were in the Blind Forest. Map Stones were a part of the gameplay: they encouraged you to explore in search for them and take on platforming challenges. Lupo is a disconnected concept not integrated into the gameplay at all. He does not encourage the player to do anything: he just stands there selling maps for currency that you always have in abundance.
Moon Studios also included the twist where the cartographer is afraid to chart a certain area himself and asks the player to do it for them. Lupo sends you to explore Silent Woods since he is afraid to do so himself, just as in Hollow Knight Cornifer is scared to venture deeper into Deepnest. You find him in hiding not far from the entrance; he is not humming his usual melody that helps you find him, instead he is shivering behind a rock. He sells you a map for the lowest price ever and runs home.
Moon Studios' attempt to integrate their version of Cornifer into the game have failed: the game just does not support him. He is an alien object, completely disconnected from both the gameplay and the level architecture. Honestly, he does more harm than good: Map Stones inspired you to explore at least in some capacity and solve platforming challenges - the whole point of Ori - but here you don't have to do anything except for throwing some money at an NPC.
Charms and Shards
Since the sequel leans so heavily into combat, the fighting and levelling systems were reivented. In the Blind Forest you'd get experience from killing enemies and then level up. Each level rewarded you with 1 point that you could spend on an ability. Those abilities either directly scaled your damage or contained quality of life perks like underwater breath, triple jump etc. Although quite simple, it worked really well.
An attempt to integrate Hollow Knight combat and levelling systems into the Blind Forest system in the sequel led to a hodgepodge of abilities that are hard to comprehend. Let's look at the Shards system that was apparently borrowed from Hollow Knight - yes, the trinket system is not unique at all, especially in metroidvanias, but here is even looks identical.
Trinket system in Hollow Knight:
- There are 40 trinkets total, they have different value attached to them: for some you might need only one socket, for others - 2+, depending on how powerful those are. They are very well balanced.
- There is a limited number of sockets you can have. You can acquire them either from merchants or by defeating some bosses. Since these trinkets are able to give you a substantial advantage in combat and often alter your playstyle, searching for sockets and saving money to buy them comes as a priority. Trinkets help you survive and move forward.
- Trinkets have great synergy that can sometimes give you quite unexpected results. The game constantly encourages you to invent new builds, switch playstiles and alter your setup to overcome new challenges, be it a boss or a platforming section.
- Many trinkets have a risk-reward factor that the player has to consider. For example, Flukenest alters your main spell and can put out the biggest DPS you can have in the game but it is a short-range ability, so you'll have to risk it by standing very close to your foe. Grubberfly's Elegy alters your main attack and makes it a projectile but only if you are at full health etc.
Trinket system in Ori and the Will of the Wisps:
- There are 32 trinkets total and they all require 1 socket;
- There is a limited number of sockets, they are given as a reward for a combat challenge with waves of enemies. Since trinkets do not give you any substantial advantage in combat, collecting every socket is not your priority;
- Trinkets do not synergise at all, you can't make any builds with them. You can ignore the system altogether and it will not impact your success - or failure - in any capacity;
- There is no risk-reward factor in the trinkets' design.
You can clearly see how the development team struggled trying to come up with trinkets so you'll have more of them in quantity. Many trinkets are just repurposed abilities from the Blind Forest, others are just parameter tweaks like "enemies drop more energy", "enemies drop more HP", which from my point of view is a sign of lazy design. There are quality of life things like triple jump - a former Blind Forest ability - or a magnet that helps you loot enemies from a distance. Honestly, I remembered that this screen exists at all only a couple times during my whole playthrough because I didn't need it.
Quirrel and Tokk
Very often there are NPCs that the protagonist encounters repeatedly throughout the whole story, and usually there is a reason for it. NPCs that are running through the entirety of your gameplay and plot like a red thread usually serve some purpose:
- They are vital to the plot development like Hornet from Hollow KNight or Flowey from Undertale;
- They have their own storyline that runs parallel to yours, like many NPCs from the Soulsborne franchise;
- Their task is more of an emotional matter: to make you laugh during the game, to create a sense of comfort and safety - or, on the contrary, of horror and danger.
Often these NPCs give you some kind of lore insight every time you run into them on your journey.
In Hollow Knight there is Quirrel, in the Will of the Wisps there is Tokk. They do the same thing - appear in different areas here and there and keep you brief company. However, Tokk, akin to Lupo and the trinket system, - does not add anything to the game:
- Hollow Knight is a lonely game where the protagonist does not have any companions, and NPC encounters outside of the hub area are extremely rare and even dangerous. Quirrel is not a travel companion, however his rare appearances and distracted monologues explaining his personal story are a welcome change of pace. They bring you deep sense of comfort and safety.
- Neither the Blind Forest nor the Will of the Wisps are lonely games. Ori always has some kind of companion: in the first installment those were Sein and the Spirit Tree, in the sequel there is a ton of NPCs all around the world, and Moki. One more NPC does not bring anything new to the table and does not impact you emotionally in any way: you are constantly chatting with somebody, you are constantly doing someone's quests, and the hub location full of NPCs is always available to warp to. You are not lonely - thus, you do not need salvation.
- Quirrel has his own plotline that is developing in parallel to yours. His quest hardly requires any actions on your part, and yet you always know that he is moving towards his goal and you'll have a chance to catch up on his progress once you meet again if it happens.
- Tokk does not have his own quest except for a primitive fetch that he gives the second or the third time you meet. He wants you to find a compass pointer that is lying literally behind a corner to the right, you just need to take it and that's it.
- Quirrel is important for the main quest: only with his help you can defeat a boss and progress the main quest;
- Tokk does not play any part in the main quest - or any quest besides his own fetch.
- Quirrel has a lot in common with the protagonist - he is also exploring Hallownest, not really knowing why, and willingly shares his knowledge with the player. He gives lore on areas where you meet and on kingdom history, which is vital, considering the subtle manner in which HK gives the player lore and story. Quirrel is the source of invaluable information that you can't acquire anywhere else.
- Tokk seems to be a wanderer charting Niwen, just like Quirrel, however Lupo will later reveal to you that Tokk is a cartographer who taught him his craft. So, Ori and Tokk do not have that much in common: Ori is an alien to Niwen, and Tokk is basically a forest native. During the game Tokk doesn't really give you much lore about anything - although he is probably the one who could certainly possess some unique knowledge - and serves more like a tutorial. For example, he tells you what you're supposed to do with the spirit gates in case you haven't played the Blind Forest. Several next times you meet he just plainly says to you what you need to do to progress, reiterating your journal entry, and then adds, "oh, those stupid legends".
Every time I met Tokk I'd hold my breath hoping that somebody will finally tell me what purpose he has in the game. I don't like fillers in games, be it characters, quests or mechanics. As I expect a coherent complete experience, I analyze and try my hardest to think why developers would introduce this or that element into the game. I always want to believe that every component has a purpose and was not thrown into the pot just because. However, Tokk is not here for anything. He is here to be Quirrel but simultaneously he lacks every single purpose Quirrel has been given in HK to be a valuable and important NPC. Tokk has nothing to do with the main storyline, he does not have a story of his own, he adds nothing to the experience - then why is Tokk..?
There are numerous other things weirdly similar to the elements of Hollow Knight spread on top of the original Ori concept. I don't want to dive too deep into each of them because it makes me extremely sad, so I'll just list them here is no particular order:
- "Infection" from Hollow Knight here is called "Decay", it turns inhabitants of Niwen into stone. Yes, it's also bubbly and orange;
- Moldwood Depths seem to be designed in every way to mimic Deepnest from HK: darkness, similar audio design, the spider queen and exactly the same unique enemies that come from under the ground. In HK they are called "Dirtcarvers".
- Squit, an enemy from HK, is a type of mosquito that charges into you and generally gives you a headache early on in the game. Skeeto from the Will of the Wisps is exactly the same. It has all the same attacks Squit has, only it performs them way faster. When I saw this enemy for the first time on stream... oh man.
- Healing mechanic that debuted in the Will of the Wisps is exactly the same as in HK - you can't move during the animation and become vulnerable while healing. You spend X amount of energy to heal - energy here equals mana and is used for various abilities, including healing.
Ori and the Will of the Blind Forest
While I was playing the Will of the Wisps I could not shake the feeling that the Blind Forest released at least 30 years ago and I need to constantly feel nostalgic about it. Similar scenes and sequences, same enemies and sometimes even music and - wouldn't you know it - the owl-antagonist again. All these things run contrary to what the plot tells us: we are in a different forest with different rules. However, it's like I never left Nibel: the feeling was very bizarre, almost like a déjà vu. "It looks a bit different but I've already seen it."
Escaping the Ruins
Every person who played the Blind Forest remembers Ginzo Tree and the grand escape. The water is quickly rising, you have to show the wonders of platforming trying to tame the brand new ability you've just gained and reach the top. A mere second of hesitation - start over. Escape from Ginzo Tree is probably my most favourite episode in the game, it's precious to my heart. I consider it to be a perfect stretch of gameplay: from the impeccable level design to the beautiful visuals and this section's stunning soundtrack - Escaping the Ruins.
... that you will continuously listen to in the Will of The Wisp because you're not nostalgizing hard enough. Escaping the Ruins will haunt you and jump out at you in the most surprising places. The first time I heard it was when I was escaping the Watermill. I thought it was an easter egg: you know, the escape, water, cleaning the waters and stuff, it must be a nod to the escape from Ginzo Tree. Despite the fact that the Watermill escape was not as good, I nodded in return and moved on. Not for long though! Any chase in the game will in some fashion be accompanied by Escaping the Ruins. During one of the phases of the spider boss, you need to quickly ascend the hollow log using the bash ability - just like you do at the very end of the Ginzo Escape - and suddenly Escaping the Ruins starts playing. Why? I am basically in Deepnest, running away from a giant spider inside a hollow log, why play Escaping the Ruins that is full of flowing water, fresh air and triumph?..
Wait, who now?
If you remember the jumping dudes from the Blind Forest, be ready to meet them here in three types (and three colors!): a usual jumping dude, a green jumping quickly dude, and a red fiery jumping dude. You'll also meet here a whole assortment of slimes from the Blind Forest and those are exactly the same: just crawling slimes, shooting spike fans slimes, dropping-from-the-ceiling slimes. This is very disappointing and raises some questions. Technically we are in a different enchanted forest where different, unseen in Nibel spieces dwell. How come the core enemies are the same? The Will of The Wisps tries to highlight combat but doesn't really give you that many new types of enemies, and that's a shame.
Water the forest. Again.
In order to keep you reveling in nostalgia, Niwen also has a problem with polluted waters that could use some cleansing. Here you'll need to free the Watermill from whatever prevents it from working. Just like Ginzo Tree, do you remember Ginzo Tree? And there also will be the Escape from the Watermill, just like the Escape from Ginzo Tree, and you'll even be listening to the very same soundtrack to - you know - make you feel like you are in the Blind Forest. Just taste the atmosphere. Mmmm, delicious.
The main quest here is exactly the same as it was in the Blind Forest: collect a number of things to restore the forest. In the first Ori it was the tree hearts, here it is a bunch of little spirits called wisps. Of course, the fact that the narrative gist of the game stayed roughly the same is not inherently bad: there is a limited number of plot archetypes all stories are derived from. They are all "collect", "kill", "overcome" etc with various tweaks here and there. The bad thing about the Ori sequel is that it references the Blind Forest way too much and uses all the same stages of progress: restore the water, go somewhere where it's dark or misty, then somewhere where it's hot and sandy. I could not get rid of the feeling that I've already played it, I've already seen it all, including the inconspicuous owl-antagonist.
Seir, are you Sein?..
In the Blind Forest almost from the very start you are accompanied by Sein, a little spirit of Nibel and your weapon. In the second part your companion is a spirit called Seir. I would ignore the name similarities - both Niwen and Nibel are magical forest, maybe it's just a naming pattern for spirits - but I can't really ignore the fact that both Sein and Seir have the same voice. Couldn't Moon Studios alter it just a bit so Sein and Seir won't sound identical? Seir is an entirely different character. Oh snap, maybe I don't feel enough nostalgia.
Fear of Difficulty
The Blind Forest is a metroidvania where most of the time you are platforming and occasionally fight several types of enemies to spice things up. Combat was never the point of Ori and even location bosses were essentialy platforming puzzles: escape from Ginzo Tree, escape from Mount Horu etc. You always needed to jump, and sometimes those jumps were quite tough to perform correctly. If you chose the higher difficulty, you had almost no space for mistakes, and the puzzles themselves were quite long and complicated. There was no autosave, no checkpoints aside from those you make yourself if you have sufficient enegry - it was a pure challenge.
The Will of the Wisps focused more on combat and significantly cooled down the platforming. Autosaves happen so often that whenever you look in the corner of the screen, the autosave indicator will be spinning there. After any death you resurrect five seconds into the past, the safety nets are everywhere. Probably the weirdest thing is that all new interesting mechanics are introduced as a new challenge only to be overwritten with some OP ability 30 minutes later.
Ice and Darkness
In the ice mountains there are cauldrons that'll spit a fire projectile when heated. You need to direct the projectile using your bash ability so that it hits the pedestal not far from the cauldron. As the pedestal lights up, a part of the area thaws and you can go to new places or interact with new objects. It is a good and solid mechanic - yes, I found it extremely annoying, mainly because I was so bad at guiding the fire. It's a challenge but the one you can overcome. Unfortunately, this mechanic is nullified after literally a couple of cauldrons when the player gets the ability to spawn a fire projectile by themselves out of thin air.
In Mouldwood Depths you have a darkness mechanic: you cannot survive there without a light source and since you don't have your own, you have to follow the fireflies. The fireflies are fast: you have to make desicions very quickly and platform precisely not to be left in the darkness that instakills you. Unfortunately, this fun and spooky challenge won't last: after a couple of firefly runs you will get the ability to emit light in a big radius, so you won't need the bugs to light the way. The light aura depletes your energy but in such minicscule amounts that it's absolutely negligeable. However, even this ability won't last long: almost immediately after acquiring it you will fight the boss, and after the fight the darkness is purged from the location entirely, and you won't need this light aura for the rest of the game. Wow, that ability was short-lived.
I was under an impression that Moon Studios got somehow swayed by the loud minority that critisized the Blind Forest for its high difficulty and challenges. In the Will of the Wisps you can touch a couple of really good mechanics but then the game showers you with a bunch of abilities that void both the mechanic and the challenge it helps to overcome, so a well-designed area becomes a desert where you have nothing of interest to do.
In the Will of the Wisps, like in the first Ori, you can collect Life Cells and Energy Cells. Surprisingly, in the sequel you can heal, and when you do, you spend one energy cell and restore an absolutely incane amount of HP. Concequently, the more energy cells you have, the cheaper the healing will be.
The further into the game, the more unbalanced in your favour the game becomes and the harder it is to die. At 7-8 HP you can tank up any damage, briefly stopping to heal fully for virtually no cost. The enemies, traps and spikes do not become more damaging further into the game: the danger of the world descreases rapidly as you progress until it is not even worthy of your attention. At about halfway through the game you can absolutely ignore spikes, traps and enemies and just absorb the damage. If you get damaged too much - don't worry, just hit the button and quickly heal to the brim. Since energy in this game is in high demand, the locations are littered with so rarely encountered in the Blind Forest energy crystals to keep your storage full, and boss arenas have at least one energy crystal that refreshes every few seconds. You are basically immortal.
Platforming mechanics that used to be vital a few hours ago get nullified by the overpowered abilities. Jumping on enemies' projectiles and the associated timings are made void by your ability to launch your own projectile - that, in turn, is made completely useless by your ability to launch yourself as a projectile. The abilities are quickly replaced by their more powerful doubles and are left only to take up space in your ability wheel never to be used again. Towards the endgame the ability to launch yourself in the air and basically fly renders all platforming almost completely skippable. Add to the pile the fact that you can tank any damage and full heal in a second and you'll essentially get a godmode with no cheats.
The Will of the Wisps
The sequel has a lot of new features: a different fighting-platforming ratio, NPCs, side quests, a bigger forest and a new ability system. Unfortunately, all these parts are weirdly disconnected as though they were attached to the game post factum and the original concept does not entirely support them.
The challenging platforming bosses from the Blind Forest were replaced by rather less challenging escapes and a number of real bosses. Alas, their design leaves a lot to be desired: the bossfights are way too long and lose their dynamic very quickly, turning into a boring button mash. Bosses do not deal enough damage to be a threat, especially if you consider your cheap healing and the endless supply of energy on the boss arena. You too deal very little damage to them, so the encounter inevitably becomes a drag. Attack patterns are if not random, then close to being random: some of them are not telegraphed clearly enough, the phases quickly change so you can't really adjust, the fights are very confusing in general. Another huge drawback I wanted to mention is the visual aspect of boss fights. Don't get me wrong, the Will of the Wisps is even more gorgeous that the Blind Forest and is a bliss to look at, the bosses look stunning but oh, the sheer number of effects! Because everything is glowing, and glistening, and there is some misty stuff, and some particles, and some more shining, it's virtually impossible to understand the hitbox. As a result, you either will be constantly running into the boss and geting contact damage or be waiving your sword in the air unable to understand why you're not dealing any damage. In a vortex of colours and flares it's extremely difficult to tell what part of the boss is in the foreground and constitutes a hitbox, and what part of the boss is in the background and cannot be hit.
The bigger world
The level architecture improved a lot, there is more verticality, more beautiful open spaces and inventive shortcuts from one area to another. One of the main marketing points before release was that Niwen is much, much bigger than Nibel and that the entirety of Nibel from the Blind Forest would fit in a single Niwen area. Probably. However, I find it funny that Niwen actually feels much smaller that Nibel because of how simple it is to traverse Niwen. Since the platforming is much easier in the sequel, you can cover great distances in seconds and just zip around effortlessly. Add the ability to warp not from the warp point but from anywhere to any warp point - and you've got Niwen on the palm of your hand.
Too. Many. Abilities.
Blending the Blind Forest's levelling system with trinkets from Hollow Knight and some other new elements lead to an overload of skills and abilities. Some of them are completely useless, others are excessive and easily overwritten by other abilities. Apart from the equippable trinkets, you have some non-essential combat abilities you can find or buy from merchants AND you have the critical skills that you need for progression AND - bear with me - you also have non-equippable essential skills aka skills from the Blind Forest. The last group includes bash and a feather for gliding, they have their respective buttons. The first two sets share the ability wheel where you can choose three abilities for quick access. Since the ability wheel accommodates both optional abilities (a light shuriken or a turret) and those crucial for puzzle solving (a bow for activating platforms or a feather to blow on the coals), it becomes a hot mess where you have to switch constantly between your combat skillset that you're comfortable with and necessary progression devices.
The levelling system in general became significantly richer but at the same time turned out to be extremely confusing. Everything is in one pile: the optional, the necessary, and you as a player don't really have enough space to make your own decisions. The game does not care much about the way you want to play it, about what build you'd like to have. You'll choose whatever the game demands. In my opinion, for a game with such a simple combat the number of combat abilities is quite excessive. You can use only the sword and be comfortable with it - the game does not encourage you to use other weapons or strategies because all enemies can be effortlessly defeated with whatever you have.
NPC и квесты
Apart from the economy system and merchants Moon Studios introduced into the Will of the Wisps a hub location full of NPCs. As is well-known, if there are NPCs, there are quests, in this case the simplest possible type - fetch-quests. You will also have a fetch-quest grandiose, very reminiscent of "Lelani's Sorrow" from Dungeon Siege II: find an item, then find someone who wants that item, bring it to them, get someting in return, find someone else who needs that thing you now have in possession, and so on until you reach the end of the chain. Does it enrich your experience? Yes, it does, but not to any substantial degree. There is also a continuous fetch-quest where you search for the plant seeds, bring them to an NPC in your hub area and he plants them, allowing you to grapple to the new plants or jump on them and explore the area further. Unfortunately, this quest is quite detached from your general progression, and by the time you find the necessary seeds you already have the movement abilities sufficient to explore wherever you want. These plants are basically useless for what they've been designed for but they make the hub area more beautiful and the cutscenes of the NPC planting them and them growing are really cute.
The map is virtually unreadable without the full zoom in: there is a ton of icons for NPCs, points of interest, quests and more, and everything is pulsating, glowing, flickering and shining so you can't even make heads or tails of what's happening.
...feeling of disappointment
I've waited years for this game. I have the most pleasant memories of the Blind Forest: I didn't have a controller at the time, I set the highest difficulty and died like 600 times or even more. When in 2016 I got my first ever FullHD monitor, Ori was the first game I tested. I just sat there for 40 minutes in the main menu, listening to that very recognizable soundtrack, just watching, and watching, and watching. I genuinely believe that the original Ori is a great game, I adore it. There is nothing excessive in it, a limited number of mechanics it has are solid and work with one another like clockwork. It is an awesome platformer with stunning visuals and a beautifil soundrack. Ori and the Blind Forest was a unique game, one of a kind.
Unfortunately, this uniquness was lost in the sequel, lost in an attempt to be something else. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a hodgepodge of abilities and mechanics that were melded all together to appease some mythical gamers. It's not "the Ori" anymore, it's "the game like something else", and I don't even care if that "something" is Hollow Knight or something else. The game has an inventory screen: beautifully drawn, precious screen that is utterly useless. I did not access it intentionally a single time because I did not need it. Just like the majority of the skills and the combat system in its current state. I know that many people are happy that Ori is much less challenging now when it comes to platforming because now you can "enjoy your surroundings and the enemy design instead of tryharding". Was the first Ori some kind of meditative spiritual experience and not a challenge? How the rejection of the main gameplay element of the original - or its degradation - can be considered a good thing? In the Blind Forest nothing stood between me and enjoying the beauty of the game. Challenge was just a part of the enjoyment.
I intentionally ommitted the plot of the game; mainly because I don't want to spoil it but also because it's probably the most subjective thing. I can't fathom how, having so many characters in the sequel, you could make a story so inarticulate and underdeveloped. It's heartbreaking for the sake of being heartbreaking and I don't like it.
...feeling of joy
Well, it's still Ori, although now you have to look much closer to see it. It was a beautidul game and it became even more beautiful. When it's not Escaping the Ruins all over again, the soundtrack is also awesome, especially the Mouldwood Deapths theme. New areas are a joy to explore, they have a lot of space and air. New mechanics - although some of them end too quickly never to be seen again - are inventive and bring much enjoyment. Windswept Wastes is a great new area with the new ability "Burrow" that allows you to travel through sand. This is a piece of Ori that I've been waiting for: new relevant abilities, new distinctive areas. I wanted to close my eyes to everything excessive and unnescessary that was brought into the sequel and just play, travel, explore. This is how I saved the Will of the Wisps for myself in my playthrough anyway.
If I didn't analyze that much and did not look for things to make sense and be consistent, it would be much, much easier for me to play Ori and I wouldn't be lost in thought for two weeks before writing this post. Alas, this is just how I am.
If you want a clear answer whether I think the Ori sequel is worth playing - they've probably patched all bugs that were present at launch, so if you want to give it a try - go ahead. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not a bad game, it's just a glass of water with too many colours added to it. And that's a pity.
Playtime - ~17hrs