Moon Studios || Microsoft || Benchmob Illustration

The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017, commonly known as E3 2017, was the 23rd Electronic Entertainment Expo, during which several hardware manufacturers and software developers and publishers from the video game industry presented new and upcoming products to the attendees, primarily retailers and members of the video game press. The event, organized by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 13–15, 2017.

In March 2015, little known video game developer Moon Studios released (through Microsoft) it’s first — and to date, it’s only — title called Ori and the Blind Forest to XBox and the Microsoft Windows Steam platform. 

Players assumed control of Ori, a white guardian spirit, and Sein, the “light and eyes” of the Forest’s Spirit Tree. To progress in the game, players are required to run, jump, and catapult themselves between platforms and solve puzzles in the metroidvania-style presentation. The game features a system called “soul links,” which allows players to save at will, and an upgrade system that gives players the ability to strengthen Ori’s skills. 

The game, inspired by Disney titles like The Lion King and The Iron Giant, received universal acclaim for its hand-painted designs, gameplay, beautiful musical score, and story, and won countless industry awards throughout 2015 and 2016. The game also featured a stunning opening cut-scene so emotional that it inspired a wave of Ori reaction videos on YouTube from video game streamers.  

Regarding the story, Ori takes place in the fictional world of Nibel where a massive storm has separated the titular cat-like sprite from his home in the forest’s Spirit Tree. This separation sparks a chain of events that leads to death and decay among most of the life in the forest, including the game’s main antagonist: a menacing dark owl named “Kuro” who, along with her nest full of young owlets, are particularly afflicted by the powerful light of the spirit tree.

Over the course of the game, the player learns that Kuro’s hatred of the spirit tree and its “light” is actually well-founded – the light of the tree was responsible for the death of several of her recently hatched children. Ori was celebrated for introducing this complication to the narrative, which makes the player question the traditional balance of “good vs. evil” in storytelling. Ultimately, the supposed antagonist Kuro restores the power to the spirit tree, sacrificing her own life to save the forest, along with Ori and his friends in the process. In the game’s epilogue, we then learn that Ori and his friends managed to save the lone unhatched egg from Kuro’s nest. 

Fast forward to E3 in June 2017 where Moon Studios surprised fans of the Ori IP with the following announcement, set to the haunting live piano arrangement of Ori and the Blind Forest’s composer, Gareth Coker:

The trailer, which follows the flight of a blue feather through the lush 2D backdrops that made Blind Forest a visual success, confirms that Moon’s second installment in the series will be Ori and the Will of the Wisps. And although no release date was provided, fans of Ori are already salivating over the news of a follow-up to the 2015 hit. 

Based on the trailer, it looks like the game’s narrative will focus on the lone surviving owlet from Kuro’s nest who has been raised by Ori and his group of friends between Blind Forest and Will of the Wisps. In the trailer we see the blue feather, presumably Kuro’s, passing through a not-yet explored area of Nibel before finally landing at the owlet’s feet near what we imagine to be an owl graveyard of sorts. 

Apart from that small reveal, it was difficult to derive much else from the trailer – other than the fact that Will of the Wisps looks to be even more visually stunning than its predecessor. There’s no telling how long we’ll have to wait before we can get our hands on Ori’s new adventure, so there’s plenty of time for the not-yet-indoctrinated to explore the beautiful world of Nibel in Ori and the Blind Forest, which you can pick up on either XBox One, XBox360, or Steam (note: Moon Studios also released Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition, which took the original game and added some upgrades to the visuals, a warp system for fast traveling across the vast world, and several new abilities and areas to explore).

Dave is the Creator and Editor-in-Chief for The Benchmob. He primarily writes about Soccer, the NBA, esports, and Pop-Culture.