Will of the Switch
I’m going to get this out there straight away – Ori and the Will of the Wisps is my game of the year. I bloody love it. When it first hit back in March and Ben reviewed it he awarded it a well deserved 9/10. I played it to completion on Gamepass as well as picking up a physical copy of the limited edition just to get hold of Gareth Coker’s superb soundtrack. Losing myself in the world of Niwen was a welcome, if bittersweet, distraction from the almighty disaster that this year has turned out to be.
I have very little to add to our original review to be honest – Ben covered all of the key aspects of what makes this game so damn good. From the gorgeous visuals to the aforementioned soundtrack, to the way the game borrows and refines mechanics from games such as Hollow Knight and Dark Souls, adding it’s own twists, and lending the titular character a fluid and thrilling motion to the world traversal, Will of the Wisps on Xbox was a damn near perfect game.
I say “near” because that initial launch on Xbox One wasn’t free of issues. The game came out in a horrendously buggy state, with loading glitches and stuttering frame rates. These were more prevalent on the One S with the One X experiencing some issues and the PC version being the best way to play the game. All of this, while not ultimately a deal breaker, left me feeling sorry for the poor Switch owners.
The original Ori and the Blind Forest hit Switch late last year, a surprise drop and a strange offer of seemingly good will from Microsoft towards Nintendo gamers. It was a solid port of a lovely but sightly flawed game that broadened the little metroidvania’s audience and gave it that most coveted of Switch benefits – portability. Playing Will of the Wisps back in March, watching it struggle in far more powerful consoles I couldn’t help but think – “This ain’t coming to Switch”
But here we are, almost a year to after the release of Blind Forest on Nintendo’s handheld/TV hybrid and another surprise drop – Will of the Wisps has launched on Switch. The big question of course is – is it any good? The easy answer is “Yes. Yes it is.” The surpassing answer is “Yes, and I think it plays better than the Xbox version.”
Don’t confuse”plays” here with “looks” – Will of the Wisps on Switch is not an ugly game, but nor is it a patch on its gorgeous big brother which came with a minimum 1080p resolution, some incredible visual effects and HDR. The Switch port is a strong beast, though, nonetheless and Moon Studio have done a phenomenal job. Sure the resolution is noticeably lower, but dynamic switching for different layers of the visible world and a reduction in fidelity help the game keep as damn close to the 60fps target as possible – in this case that frame rate is hit most of the time with noticeable drops in busy areas, but nothing too distracting.
Digital Foundry have done a fantastic teardown of the port which you should totally go and watch. The main takeaway is that the time between the Xbox launch and the Switch port has allowed the wizards at Moon to totally revise their development pipeline to be able to push higher frame rates with a better optimised image.
All of this is fantastic for Switch players – their version might not be the best to look at but it’s certainly the best to play and ultimately is as close to perfection as possible. But looking to the future this port has also helped push Moon’s engine further, enabling the next gen Holy Grail – 4k 120fps on the Xbox Series X. The adventures of the little wood spirit and their search for a lost friend is as enduring and endearing a story as you’ll ever find, and it’s one that’s sure to find an audience for years to come.