Ori and the Will of the Wisps won't release until next year. I was totally fine with that, until I saw just how fluid the sequel's movement could be.
A demo of the Ori sequel was playable at the Xbox booth at Gamescom this year, taking users through a desert level largely designed to showcase some of the new mechanics.
You start out with a fairly good moveset already: the ability to double jump midair, a sizeable and speedy air dash that resets every time you touch a surface, the ability to climb up walls and dodge roll.
The map also quickly introduces you to Ori's grappling hook, which is activated through the left bumper. You can only grapple onto specified objects, so it's not as versatile as the rest of the moveset.
But what's fantastic - and this quickly becomes apparent, especially if you've got a degree of competency with platformers - is how well all of these moves mesh together.
— Alex @ Gamescom (@dippizuka) August 21, 2018
The video above really doesn't do justice to just how quickly you can fly through the air when everything comes together. And it especially doesn't illustrate how clever you can be when you start chaining that with the attacks, which have some cool tricks of their own.
Like the previous game, you can bring up an equipment/weapon select wheel at the touch of a button. It lets you change out three of your abilities for other ones. From the off, you're given a bow (which uses energy) and a short-to-medium range slash.
The bow is will lock onto targets if you're aiming close enough, and importantly, you can use it at any time. If you pull the bow out mid-air, Ori will fall through the air slower, which opens up a huge range of possibilities.
As for the other options, the demo also had a slow (but heavy) sledgehammer and a ranged orb attack with an arc. The orb's slower, but does more damage than the bow - think of it a little like a grenade, basically.
But the absolute best bit of all of this: you can change any of these out on the fly.
So let's go back to the bow for a second. Say you've just done a mid-air dash and discovered that there's an enemy underneath. You could just drop, take a hit, slash it a few times and be done with it. That's fine.
Alternatively, you could try this: grab the bow, fire a shot off, and then immediately go into the weapon wheel. In there, replace the bow for the sledgehammer, enabling a powerful downward strike. The knockback from that will give you a little bit of space to follow up with faster melee attacks (because you can have both the sledgehammer and standard strike equipped at once), allowing you to utterly pulverise the enemy.
It's going to be an absolute dream for speedrunners, especially when you mix that with the speed at which you can get into range of enemies. Later in the demo, for instance, you're given the ability to dig through sand. Apart from being able to traverse new locations, you can also get a quick speed boost going into, out of, and through any sandy surfaces on the map.
If you're traversing through sand, it means you get an extra-quick dash when you exit. But there are also plenty of basic ledges and walls made out of sand, ones that dissipate as soon as Ori touches them. Normally you'd just bounce off these with the jump button, but you can use the dash to launch through the other side.
It opens up a massive range of movement and makes for a lightning quick game - once the various abilities and attacks are unlocked. And that will be the kicker: how long will Ori make players wait until they get all the fun tools?
We'll find that out next year. It's funny: Will of the Wisps wasn't a game that I was excited for, per se. But now, after flying through the desert and dashing through enemies left and right, 2019 can't come soon enough.
The author travelled to Gamescom 2018 as a guest of Nvidia.