It was always hard to find anything bad to say about 2015’s Orion the blind forest Moon Studios blend of an entrancing tragic fairytale world and white-knuckle platforming challenge left a mark that hasn’t faded with time and yet the new follow-up Orion the will of the wisps successfully builds on that in a way that doesn’t just retread the same ground there’s more breadth and detail choice and diversity than ever and it’s all done with engrossing colour and light and an excellent inspiring soundtrack
This is a great big open world game backed by a great big beautiful score that shifts and echoes your successes and grows frantic and immediate in moments of tension it’s your constant companion as you journey through diverse locations that sprawl out in all directions blooming fertile forests, frigid mountainous peaks, vibrant pools, sizzling deserts and bug-infested burrows choked in lethal darkness all of them feel distinct and alive and there are incredible beauty and attention to the little details that serve the overarching theme of each whether you’re burrowing through the sand and the blazing red light of the desert or pricking yourself on bare splintered timber in the mountainous regions there’s always something surprising in store.
Orion the will of the wisps reinforces that theme of a wider living world with a menagerie of new creatures to fight big and small alongside woodland critters and animal guardians that hide and thrive in each area these new NPC characters provide helpful information offer you simple side quests sell you maps and abilities and upgrade a central hub village as you inevitably round up the many different collectables scattered around the world this new level of customization and the persistent goal of working towards something helped to ground us in the happenings of the world we felt like we had a stake in its success rather than just running through a series of places to leap and fight my way to the end.
Exploring these secret nooks unlocks new abilities that let you interact with the world in new ways and avoiding deadly obstacles is the meet on the will of the wisps bones it all feels better than ever as we were nearing the end of our 12 hour playthrough the speed and possibilities for creative movement put us in almost a zen-like state triple jumps burrowing dashing through water launching ourself into the air bashing off of enemies and grappling to fix positions with a lasso and hope becomes second nature it’s a gradual ramp up but as we unlocked each new ability we relished the chance to hop in a warp gate and head back to a previous area to plunder the collectables that were once just out of reach combat has been extended along the same lines you can get active abilities and passive shards that enhance already in unique ways like allowing you to triple jump or cling to walls or just pointing out secret locations and though you start with only a few of these shard slots you can unlock more for completing combat challenges and that gives you a chance to customize your aura to a degree that really changes your play style.
Most importantly orys new active abilities which are essentially weapons can be purchased equipped on-the-fly through a weapon wheel and upgraded, you can use a fast slashing spirit edged sword.
You can deliver heavy spirit smash hammer blows fire a splinter in spirit arc energy bow light enemies on fire deploy spirit sentries to constantly pepper them with damage and so much more.
We’ll admit at first that we didn’t venture too far out of our starting abilities but the diversity of each item in and out of combat makes many of them must-haves for example not only does that heavy spirit smash deliver big damage and knock enemies up in the air but it’s also used to crush through breakable barriers and though that spirit Lance might cost a ton of energy to use it’s a lifesaver when it staggers a boss mid attack and opens it up for you to deliver precious damage in one of the new enjoyable and occasionally harrowing boss fights and without going into spoiler territory with Orion the will of the wisps tragically beautiful story Moon Studios has delivered an excellent second chapter that plucks the same heartstrings of hope and loss and redemption as the first game it’s an affecting mixture of sorrow and joy that shines a light on the power of empathy what we really appreciate about Ori is that even though it’s a tale of light versus darkness it never fully falls into the simplicity of good versus evil instead it instills the ideas that even the ostensibly bad guys have hearts families and tragedy regardless of whether they choose to seek Redemption.
In Oriya in the will of the wisps moon studios have taken an excellent foundation and made even more out of it. it’s many new elements expand on and add to the first games fun without bogging it down or becoming overcomplicated and that’s really the best praise you can give a sequel it stays true to the spirit of the original doubles down on what made it great and gives you more stake in the world and options to navigate it or in the will of the wisps is an excellent heartfelt follow-up that pushes the series to new heights.