Ori and the Will of the Wisps has some of the best setpieces we’ve ever played. Unlike the Uncharted or Spider-Man games, where bombastic sequences are basically cutscenes with a few button prompts, Ori never takes you out of the moment, no matter how intense. The game always wants you in control of the action.
Control is what makes this game special. A precise 2D platformer lives and dies by how responsive it feels, and Ori rarely drops the ball in this regard. Exploring its beautiful world, mastering its obstacles, and marveling at its numerous setpieces and boss fights, Ori has some of the tightest gameplay we’ve ever experienced. It’s a game you never want to tear yourself away from; you want to see the next part of the world and best the challenges it contains, all while remaining fully in control of what is happening on screen – whether you’re succeeding or failing.
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Ori is constantly pushing you as a player. Did you master this challenge? Here’s a new one that will break your brain. Feel good about your skill level? Learn to use this new item or suffer the consequences. Think you’ve got the best of this boss? You probably don’t. You’re always challenged as a player; you need to learn and adapt as Ori’s skillset evolves. When you hit one of the game’s numerous big moments, it’s like taking the video game equivalent of a final exam.
Ori’s chases all unfold the same way: A big monster shows up, and then you run like hell, jumping, dashing, and swinging your way to safety (and probably dying several times in the process). As the behemoth behind you continues its hunt, the world crumbles. Everything feels desperate; your thumbs, like Ori’s legs, moving as quickly as possible to escape. You constantly feel the threat of death, but the controls empower you to avoid it. Dying is your fault, but succeeding is your reward for mastering the game.
When setpieces unfold in other games, it’s easy to feel detached as you passively watch. In Ori, you control that action, and that control is fantastic. The sense of exhilaration you get from mastering the game’s challenges, escaping the monstrosity behind you is a feeling we’ve rarely felt playing a game before. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a game that sticks with you, running through your mind after you complete it and asking you to relive its best moments.
Want to read more about the best games that 2020 had to offer? We’re counting down our Top 10 for the year, so navigate to another entry using the links below!