Games this Week... Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I wasn’t able to blog on Friday due to some wretched neck pain that made sitting at my desk a horrible experience, so instead, I propped up in the recliner with an ice pack and Ori and the Will of the Wisps on the Xbox.

I have been looking forward to this game since it was first announced back in 2017. The first game, Ori and the Blind Forest has remained one of my favorite games thanks to a perfect combination of the artwork, story, music, gameplay, and difficulty. It ticked all of the boxes for me, despite the fact that I am usually abysmally bad at platformers. (Another game I played around the same time was Child of Light, which was equally beautiful with a wonderful story, though not half as difficult.)

Now, present day 2020, it has been a very long time since I have played a linear narrative adventure game with a concrete ending. Most of the games that I have been playing have a sort of endless quality to them, whether it’s an MMO like Elder Scrolls Online or World of Warcraft, arcade and puzzle games like Katamari Damacy Reroll, sim games like Animal Crossing, or battle games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Hearthstone. Even Pokémon Shield, arguably an RPG, feels less like a linear story and more like a battle game with weird story beats thrown in, and it has that sense of no ending in sight, even as I finished (maybe?) the storyline, as there is always more to do and new DLCs on the way.

I think the last true linear RPG I played through was Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and that was almost a year ago now. Before that, I think the last narrative game I played through would have been Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

As a platformer, Ori is a very different kind of game compared to Zelda, and for me, it’s much more difficult to play, requiring faster reflexes and complex combinations of button presses that aren’t usually required in your standard third-person RPGs. Where Breath of the Wild was for the most part, a relaxing romp through Hyrule with the occasional escape from Guardians, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is less relaxation and far more stress.

 Escaping an avalanche.

As Ori gets stronger with each ability and skill I unlock, the puzzles and enemies get harder and harder, and the boss fights more and more complex. I played for several hours over the weekend and fought (or escaped) several bosses, each one more difficult than the previous. I died many many times. Many many times. I managed to get to the final boss (I think), but after trying and failing to defeat it several times, I abandoned the fight to go find and upgrade more skills before I return to it. More health, more energy, more attacks.

The number of times I have cursed and growled at my slow reflexes or poor timing is a lot. It would make for some very colorful commentary if I were using a microphone while streaming (which I will be, as soon as I can figure out a good Xbox setup). 

 

Ori is a difficult game, but I enjoy that, as stressful and frustrating as it can be sometimes. There’s something I often tell my kid, when it comes to doing something that is difficult or challenging: you will probably fail a lot before you get it right, but when you do finally succeed at it, you feel so much more achievement and pride than you would if it had been easy. Sometimes, the things that are the most difficult are the most rewarding. And this game makes me feel that.

For most of my life, I have identified as a gamer, but I don’t feel it nearly as acutely as when I play these really difficult games like Ori. I don’t know if it’s a nostalgic callback to how hard the old platformers were back in the 90s, or if it’s some sort of self-vindication that I still have decent gaming skills, that I can compete with the young’uns. I’m not too old for video games just yet! (Though, my finger joints may argue with that.)

I’m looking forward to completing the game. I’m greatly enjoying the story; it’s very folkloric and fantastic, full of magic and spirits and light vs. dark. It is very much My Thing™. If I remember correctly, I 100%d Ori and the Blind Forest, so I would like to do so again with this one. I expect I’ll finish it sometime this week, and then be sad that it’s over.

I have a few more Xbox Game Pass titles to explore next, however, so I won’t be sad very long.

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P.S. I'm trying to get into the habit of streaming every evening during the week, so be sure to subscribe to my Twitch Channel so you never miss a moment! Soon, I should have a microphone setup, and you'll get to listen to me curse and growl and such as I play!

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