Rayman is back, which can mean one of two things. Either another spin off with annoying Rabbid type things. Or some more platforming greatness. Luckily it is the latter of the two. Rayman Legends hopes to be everything Origins was and more.
When Gamestyle finished Rayman Origins, we were left wanting more it was an amazing return to the original Rayman’s roots and showed why platforming has always been best in 2D. So when Rayman Legends was announced we were all giddy with excitement. That enthusiasm dropped slightly when we found out it was a Wii U exclusive. So unlike some, we were happy to hear of the delay and the subsequent multi-format release. We have finished Origins on 360, PS3 and Vita!
Rayman Legends taps into the same pool as the excellent Origins and also classic platforms such as Super Mario World. Simple gameplay that is ultimately as challenging as anything you will encounter in gaming. The controls should feel similar, whether you are new to the genre, or a bit of an expert coming back for another round.
You should be able to pick up and controller and play. Rayman Legends, as with Origins does this perfectly. The 2D viewpoint means that movement is as simple as can be, you can move left or right, jump, duck and everything else you’d expect, all the time without needing to concern yourself with managing a 3D camera or getting lost in an environment. If anything it is gaming in its purest form, something we can all remember from the eighties to the modern era. The 2D platformer is one genre that can unite gamers of all ages and backgrounds and Rayman Legends is a perfect poster child for it.
Levels are graded and start off easier, gradually becoming more and more of a challenge. This can sometimes be a sticking point, with learning curves being too harsh, or at the other end of the scale, failing to produce enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. Rayman Legends again nails this and it at all times feels challenging, but without ever feeling inaccessible.
As with the previous games, you can approach levels in a number of ways. Either simply getting to the end or trying to collect everything possible within a level. Whereas in Origins you were simply given a rating for collecting enough Lums in a level. Now you are given trophies for hitting certain targets, but also extra bonuses such as a scratch card, that can be used to unlock extra characters, bonus art, extra Lums towards you cumulative total and more. It is a nice addition that sets the game apart from being a simple ‘new levels’ type of sequel.
There are of course new levels and they retain so much of the charm associated with the world of Rayman, but there are a new mechanics involved and these show where the game was originally a Wii U exclusive. There are segments where Murfy will fly towards an area of the screen and await you pressing a button to perform a basic action, such as cutting a rope, moving a block, etc. These were clearly done with the Wii U gamepad in mind and feel a bit out of place and needless when played with a standard joypad. However, they don’t ruin the experience and not awkward or anything, they just feel a little our of place.
One other thing you’ll notice compared to Origins is just how much content there is. Origins had plenty to do, but compared to Legends it comes across as somewhat bare. Bonus levels, extra characters, mini games, end of level bonuses and even daily and weekly challenges are all included in a package that just feels like it is bursting at the seams.
In fact the first time the game was booted up, it was actually a little overwhelming, as the game seems to want to introduce you to as much as possible, teasing you with new things to discover every few minutes. After a few hours of play, we noticed we’ d barely scratched the surface of the main game as we poked around everything that was on offer and tried to beat our best performances in the challenges… It is those pesky leaderboards that do it, you just get drawn in to wanting to do better and better. Especially when you see a friends name above your own, but achingly close. You can beat them, just one more go!
However if you can ignore the extras for long enough, you have a wonderful time in the main game and as in Origins, you’ll go through a range of emotions, from frustration to absolute joy and even pride when you complete certain levels that had previously given you trouble. Whilst levels remain similar, they never feel repetitive and the aforementioned parts that were clearly made with the Wii U in mind are generally few and far between. Early levels may be completed fully in one or two runs, but later levels will take a lot of tries to master and that is the true test of a game like this. You may need to repeat levels, but you look forward to doing them again, you never feel like it is a grind.
There is the option of four player co-op too and as fun as it is, we found that playing two player was the best experience. It’s not that anything is wrong with three or four player, it is just at times it felt a little too hectic, whereas in two player the balance was just right. That being said though, it is a great party game, having a few friends round and sticking Rayman Legends on is just wonderful fun. Dare we say it, it was a better experience than in New Super Mario Bros U!
Super Mario World is still the best platformer ever made in our opinion, but Rayman Legends is clearly the best of modern times. It offers up a wonderful challenge, it looks beautiful and plays excellently. There is no cutting back on value either, which is great to see in an era of paid for DLC. If anything does come at a later date it well truly feel like a value added extra rather than cynical ploy to hold back content.
The game does make use of the power of the consoles and looks beautiful, once again feeling like a cartoon in motion rather than a video game at times. The animation is super smooth, the worlds of each level have their own style and look lush and full of life. If anything it makes you excited to see what the team behind Rayman could do with the power of the PS4 or XBOX One in the next years. As great as the likes of The Last Of Us, Splinter Cell, Watchdogs, etc all look, it is a fact that the art in a game like Rayman Legends still stands out is a testament to the development team.
Rayman Legends is the type of sequel you hope for. More of the same, but improving on the standards set by the original, with tons of new content. It is one of the best 2D platformers you will play this or any other generation.