Xbox are having an incredibly interesting few weeks, aren’t they?
Just last month, all the conversation seemed to be about Sony, the price of the PS5, and its launch titles. Now everyone is glued to the Xbox channels to see what’s popping up on GamePass, and which studio they’ve acquired next.
One move that seems to have slipped under the radar just slightly, though, is the surprise release of Ori and the Will of the Wisps on Switch. Not that it’s a surprise the game appeared on Switch at all considering the release of the original, but so soon after it appeared on Xbox One? And just before a Series X re-release?
Ori and the Will of the Wisps might just be the best indie game this year. Sally gushed over it extensively a few months back and for good reason. It’s sensational. But it had its issues, performance chief among them.
So, if the game is stuttering and stammering on an OG Xbox One, how the heck is the Switch going to be able to handle it, you ask? Like an absolute boss, I reply.
Genuinely, I am blown away by how well this runs. Of course there’s cutbacks and reductions, but I actually think this might be the best port I’ve seen on Nintendo Switch to date. And that Witcher 3 port was mightily impressive.
I remember jumping into Will of the Wisps a few months back on Xbox, adoring the world but squinting at the performance. There were regular frame drops, the loading was excessive, and everything seemed to want to work against it from a technical point of view.
I wanted to love the game but found myself being pulled out of the world because the performance was just struggling to keep up. Most of this isn’t a problem on Switch – again, forgetting for a moment its lower resolution and limitations – as the game now manages to work seamlessly.
In handheld mode, Ori’s world gleams and glistens as stunningly as ever. You’ll catch your heart in your mouth at times as the game’s score sweeps over you, and other times you’ll feel your eyes tear up as the golden sun sets and you soar through the skies.
The thing that impressed me most of all, though, is how active the background still feels on Switch. That’s what immediately jumped out to me in Will of the Wisps on Xbox. The world felt alive in a way I hadn’t felt before in a 2D platformer and Moon Studios have, amazingly, managed to replicate that feeling on a smaller screen.
When Docked, Ori does look a bit rougher on Switch compared to its Xbox counterpart. You can see a bit more clearly where sacrifices have been made to make the port run at the level it’s at, and while it still looks and runs absolutely beautifully, it’s quite clear the emphasis has been to make the game look at its best in handheld. A job very well done.
I cannot say this enough, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps is so very special, from its storytelling, to its boss battles, the use of lighting, the shard and spirit mechanics, and that absolutely gut-wrenching, affecting, and enriching soundtrack. Moon Studios have created a true work of art.
I would still absolutely recommend holding out for the Xbox Series X version of Ori and the Will of the Wisps later this year as this game truly is at its finest on the big screen and I have a feeling it will be an even greater visual and audible delight on the platform it was originally developed for.
But let me absolutely clear when I say Moon Studios have built the absolute best possible handheld experience for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It feels wonderfully intimate – especially with headphones – and even more special than when it launched. Blind Forest was great, but this is next level impressive.
The art pops in such an incredibly unique way on the small screen. It completely dazzles and enchants as you work your way through the gorgeous environments and find danger lurking around every corner.
I just cannot get over how good this port is. One thing is for absolute certain, having seen the Xbox version at its worst earlier this year, now coming into this, I have even more respect for the developer of this spellbinding and enchanting adventure.
Quite how studios keep finding new and exciting ways to get the most out of Nintendo’s ‘super mini engine that can’ will never cease to amaze me. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is now a genuine Game of the Year Contender with launch issues aside and the Switch is a truly wonderful home to play it on.
+ The best Switch port I’ve ever seen
+ An absolutely gorgeous soundtrack and art style
+ Epic boss battles and fun gameplay mechanics
+ A heartwrenching story, set against a breathtaking world
– Docked mode slightly shows up some of the limitations of the port
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is now available on Xbox, PC, and Switch
Code kindly provided by Little Big PR
Tested on Switch