Moon Studios doesn’t have any new Ori games planned right now, but has “left the door open” for a return to the series – perhaps in a prequel or spin-off. One spin-off the team doesn’t have much control over, but would very much like to see, is Ori making an appearance in Super Smash Bros.
With Ori & the Blind Forest and Ori & the Will of the Wisps now complete, the studio has said previously that it’s happy with how Ori’s story ended. In a new interview with IGN, the team made clear that was still the case, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Moon won’t return to the world it created.
Moon is now working on a brand new action-RPG for publisher Private Division, with no connection to its Ori games. “We are still in the pretty early stages of development,” said lead artist Daniel van Leeuwen, “but a lot of the things we already have are very exciting!”
Asked if there were any plans in place for an Ori follow-up after or alongside that new game, art director Jeremy Gritton made clear that, “For now we’re focused on our newest title, but we’ve left the door open for a return to Ori’s world. It would really come down to whether or not there’s a story that the team is excited to tell.”
With the character of Ori’s story seemingly complete, I asked if the team would prefer to approach a new game as a prequel or spin-off. “There are a lot of possibilities for stories to tell in [Ori game settings] Niwen or Nibel”, explains Gritton. “As you mentioned, both prequels and spin-offs would give us an opportunity to expand on the lore while giving a fresh perspective.
“Although we don’t have anything planned at the moment, I think there’s a lot of potential there. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that I think would be cool to explore, so I make a note of it and file it away for now. Continuing to expand on what we’ve already established could be a lot of fun.”
I ask if the Ori series could transition into another form, such as a comic book or animated show, an idea Gritton is clearly in favour of (although he gives no indication if anything is in the works): “There are some inherent restrictions to story-telling in a game, so that could be really interesting. I think Ori’s world could very easily transfer to other media. In terms of lore, there’s a lot we could dive into and explore more in-depth.”
And there’s another spin-off Moon would be happy to see, even if it’s not really the Ori developers’ choice. Before it was revealed to be Minecraft’s Steve, some had tipped Ori as a potential next guest fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, given the series’ connection to Nintendo Switch (not to mention Ori’s appearance in a similar fighting game, Rivals of Aether).
Moon gives no indication that any formal discussions have taken place, but the team are very much in favour of the idea:
“I think all of us at Moon would LOVE to see Ori in Smash and we think that Ori’s moveset and fighting mechanics [would] be tons of fun”, says Moon co-founder Gennadiy Korol, before adding how fans could go about helping to make it happen: “I honestly think this could be amazing and you should tweet Phil Spencer about it!”
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As for Ori’s immediate future, the team isn’t speaking much about the Optimized for Series X version of Ori & the Will of the Wisps, but Korol teases that, “I think people will be very surprised with how significant the upgrade to 120FPS in 4K would be. We can’t wait to share more on that later.”
We’ll be excited to see whatever Moon has for us next, given how impressive its first two games have been. We awarded Ori & the Blind Forest an 8.5 review, calling it “a beautifully realized, brilliantly designed, and at times brutally difficult sylvan Metroidvania-style platformer with enough charm to leave a lasting impression.” That was followed by Ori & the Will of the Wisps, which we said took “an excellent foundation and made even more out of it”, in our 9/10 review.