I had planned on skipping this because I played the first one already, and didn't feel the need for more Ori. This looked pretty much identical. I underestimated how much fine-tuning of the fundamentals here would improve the gameplay. This elevates a game that was loveable-but-janky into perhaps the best platforming experience ever crafted. It takes the handful of ideas that made the first game work and polishes them until they shine oh-so brilliantly.
Once you have all the tools of movement at your disposal, it feels incredible to zip through the terrain at lightning speed. The controls are tight and intuitive - I rarely struggled to execute any maneuvers. The pace of learning is just right - they give you just enough time to master your current tools before adding more complexity.
It's flexible and forgiving, too. You can smoothly cancel out of nearly any animation, which gives you this incredible dexterity with a low barrier to entry. Most challenges can be accomplished using a variety of methods, allowing you to develop your own style. An extremely generous checkpoint system encourages you to fail and experiment freely without making you feel coddled.
Combat still isn't great, but it's better than before and totally passable - especially early on where enemy design is simpler and more focused on encouraging dynamic movement. Attack animations, particle effects, and hitboxes are just too loose and hard to interpret to make the combat feel anywhere near as tight as the movement. I didn't care for the bosses, and the boss races make an unfortunate reprisal. There are also unclear rules around when you can bash through enemies, which leads to a some frustrating moments in late-game battles.
But most of my time with this game went towards exploring the map and time trials. I'm dedicating an entire paragraph to the time trials because they're so fucking good. The length is perfect - each course can be easily completed in under 40 seconds, which is just long enough to feel like a satisfying journey, but not so long that it's a struggle to keep the whole course in your head. Each one teaches you how to master a new mechanic, and by the end you'll have that skill fully incorporated into your toolkit. They're easy to learn and difficult to master, all of them are finely-tuned, dynamic, and a shitload of fun.
One of the best metroidvania platformers ever made. Easily recommended to most folks.