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Ori And The Will Of The Wisps: Stunning visuals, absorbing storyline

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
Ori And The Will Of The WispsPHOTO: MOON STUDIOS

I can't play platform games very well. You know, those games in which you control a character that has to jump and climb between platforms while avoiding objects, enemies and other obstacles.

However, Ori And The Will Of The Wisps is making me persevere despite my woeful control and umpteen failed attempts betweengetting a jump right.

In this 2D platform game, you play as Ori, a little guardian spirit who was separated from its friend Ku - an owl - during a thunderstorm and has landed in the forest of Niwen.

Ori looks like a cross between Disney's Stitch alien and DreamWorks' Toothless dragon. It looks white, glowy and cute. But it is mighty and will gradually get more powerful as you unlock more weapons, spells and skills.

Even if you have not played the original Ori And The Blind Forest game, you can still pick it up straightaway as there is a prologue that serves as a tutorial to get you up to speed with the gameplay.

But it helps if you have played the original, as it continues the absorbing storyline. You will also realise why finding Ku is so important.

But what keeps me going is not only the story, but also the game world, which, itself, is worthy of the game's price tag.

The visuals are breathtaking, with art direction that melds Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away (2001) with James Cameron's Avatar (2009). From swaying plants to animated forest creatures illuminated by streaks of sunlight, it is a visual feast to behold.

Bolstered by the enchanting soundtrack, the atmosphere of the game offers great solace when you find yourself lost in the forest, which will happen often.

When you are lost, the in-game map offers some direction, but it can be disorientating - I often have to go back and forth before I find a way out to the next area.

This is not helped by my clumsy control, which causes Ori to die a lot of times while jumping from one platform to another. Thankfully, there is an auto-save function that bails me out, so I can keep trying until I clear an area.

  • FOR

    • Breathtaking visuals 

    • Awesome soundtrack 

    • Absorbing story 

    • Intuitive combat system

    AGAINST

    • Disorientating at times 

    • Can be challenging at times

    SPECS

    PRICE: $39.90 (PC; Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: 2D platformer

    RATING: 9/10

Button-mashing does not quite work here. You need to time your jumps correctly at certain angles to clear walls and platforms. In later stages, you will be required to string together a couple of moves, such double jumps and dashing in mid-air.

At times, you have to solve puzzles to obtain keystones to open a door. It involves pulling levers, activating stairs or moving rocks, along with the usual jumps to get there.

All of this results in a challenging game, and it can be frustrating when you keep dying. But the satisfaction when you finally clear a difficult sequence of platforms is rewarding.

Not to mention, Ori's every movement - from jump to attack - is graceful and majestic. Watching it turn in mid-air or swing its light edge sword at enemies is therapeutic even.

You will learn new attack moves as you advance in the game. But you can assign these attack moves to only the X, Y and B buttons of the controller for quick use.

Again, while it is easy to unleash these attacks by mashing buttons, you will need to jump or roll at the same time to avoid being hit. If not, you will perish quickly.

Yes, it is challenging for non-platform players like me, but the visual feast is enough for anyone to hunker down and keep on playing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2020, with the headline 'Ori And The Will Of The Wisps: Stunning visuals, absorbing storyline'. Subscribe