Speaking with Stevivor, Moon Studios’ Thomas Mahler explained why Ori and the Will of the Wisps originally removed the Soul Link system… and why it was left out in the end.
As Ori has developed new abilities and takes a more active role in combat compared to Ori and the Blind Forest, Mahler said the Xbox One controller simply didn’t have enough real estate for Soul Link, the original game’s checkpoint and save system. For those unaware, Ori was able to establish a checkpoint anywhere in the world after the single press of a button… providing a player remembered to do it.
“We had Soul Link on [the B button], and we just didn’t want to keep a face button for that anymore,” Mahler began. “So that put us into that dilemma of, ‘well where do we put it?’”
“We were planning on using Soul Link, but then after doing playtests, and after having all the abilities we added in there and the weapons and so on, we really felt like, ‘let’s try to play it without Soul Link’ and just resort to checkpoints because it felt like it was starting to become too weighted and complex,” he continued. “You constantly had to think about too many things at once.”
Once Soul Link was removed and checkpoints put in place, Mahler said that further testing confirmed the new system “was the way to go.”
“Nobody missed it, because everybody was just so enthralled with what they’d just played,” he asserted. “It didn’t make sense to add it back in.”
Mahler acknowledged that a traditional checkpoint system removed the need for players to remember to place a Soul Link before tricky bits of gameplay, also removing frustation as a result.
“[In Ori and the Blind Forest, we struggled with the question,] ‘how do you remind people to actually put down a Soul Link in case they forgot?,” he said. “Now, you will always feel, ‘yeah, there’s just a checkpoint right there and I can just do that challenge again.’ It’s great.”