E3 2018: Hands-on – Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest was one of those games that just caught the attention of hearts of everyone. A ridiculously cute and well-animated protagonist doing some smooth platforming with emotional music and a great mix of tricky platforming and power-up hunting. The team at Moon Studios has been hard at work on a sequel and the level I played of the game really shows that hard work and attention to detail for Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

Ori starts off with melee and ranged attacks, the ability to dash and leash onto objects and enemies and it didn’t take long to get used to wall hopping, dashing and navigating the terrain to solve quests. Controls are just as smooth, with Ori doing exactly what you press as you press it, making a good run through a hazard feel like something out of a speedrunner’s video. In the level I could play, which was full of desert sand, spike traps and a few mushrooms, I had to make sure in several areas to only touch a platform for as long as it took to jump off again. Plants collect sand falling from above into platforms that start to disintegrate as soon as you touch them, giving you just enough time to jump before all the collected sand disperses. After a while, these sand sections refill so you can try again, but generally, it means you only have one attempt at a jump or section of jumps before starting again. A while into this level you get the ability to burrow through the sand, Ori spinning like a top while effectively swimming through the grains. Your dash can be used in the sand too and in any direction, meaning you can dash just near the edge of the sand to get some extra distance or air to reach a previously inaccessible area.

Those sand barriers from earlier now have a dual purpose as you can dash towards them and through them, blasting out the other side with a burst of speed. This allowed for quicker traversal around the area for backtracking for collectables and the stone keys required to continue onwards. It was masterful seeing how the various locomotion styles came together to allow smooth, fluid movement from place to place. Sadly at this point, the demo ended, which went on for 20 minutes or until you finished the stage.

What I saw was more Ori, with that same slick, sweet polish that we loved from the first game.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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