Extensive story, complicated game mechanics, edgy societal cues; these are all things that people are talking about in games today and Rayman Legends pays no attention. Instead of focusing on trying to make a statement or move a person, it focuses on being playful and fun. Rayman Origins released two years ago to massive critical acclaim. Does this colorful, playful sequel have what it takes to grab the same amount of attention as the past game, or is it time to take the gloo gloo noise effects and ukulele elsewhere?
Rayman Legends Launch Trailer
|Rayman Legends Review: Beautiful Nonsense|
This game, for me, can be summed up in one sentence. Everything is just so damn cute. I’m a 6’4”, pretty large, 25-year-old, masculine dude and at every turn I feel like I’m being turned into a 10-year-old school child. The sights and sounds of the game, from character animations to every bit of musical score, has me bopping up and down and yelling for anyone around me to come look. Usually focusing on the cute and happy gets old quickly, but Rayman Legends finds a way to keep it interesting every single step of the way.
One way in which the game achieves this fresh newness on every level is the always changing art style. I am almost at a loss for words for how beautiful the game actually is on every console. The crazy thing is, the game changes look while keeping a cohesive art style constantly. Every level looks different and somehow belongs in the universe that Ubisoft has created for Rayman and his pals. I found myself every time I started a new level excited to see what the world would have to offer.
Stepping into each world doesn’t only bring beautiful sights but also a diverse, fun loving, soundtrack to back it up. Professional scores and orchestras mixed with playful character sounds and funny instruments fill each level with enjoyment. Some levels mix in familiar music such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Black Betty” with running sequences to give platforming cues and do so while being some of the most enjoyable levels in the game. Rayman Origins had a fantastic soundtrack, and Rayman Legends steps it up a notch above its predecessor.
A new thing that Rayman Legends brings to the table is touch based levels for the Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions of the game. However, these touch based levels were probably the least enjoyable stages of an otherwise flawless playing platformer. The puzzles with a touch device are interesting at best and annoyingly awkward at their worst. The AI character runs along a level while you help them along touching levers, buttons and gyro turns to interact with the background. The stages become almost an escort mission. Escort missions are never fun, especially with an AI that refuses to act like a real player.
On other non-touch based platforms the levels are even more annoying. In these levels on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC the touch based mechanics are put to a button press. A floating character, named “Murphy”, will interact with the obstacles as if someone was playing with a touch device. Unfortunately a lot of the touch-based mechanics are made for touch screens, so the gameplay mechanics don’t transfer over well. This leads to a lot of frustrating deaths and unnecessary retries. At least there is no AI right?
If you get a chance, a lot of the touch-based nonsense can be done away with by playing with some friends. The couch co-op gameplay is drop-in-drop-out and seamless. Playing with multiple people on the WII U is definitely the way to play these levels. On-screen action can get a little hectic at times but still a blast. There is a special competitive multiplayer game which is a blast at parties as well. Players smack, hack and jump around and play soccer like game that is fun for anyone, even the less game savvy.
Thankfully, if you don’t have any friends, the touch based levels are outliers in the gameplay. The rest of the game might as well be a clinic for how to make a platformer enjoyable. The mechanics are simple, leaving the difficulty to level design which is a good move. I always felt like I was in complete control of my character and by the end of the game was able to perform death defying moves and feel good doing them.
Rayman Legends is a game that just seems to keep on giving. It’s enjoyable, plays like a dream, fantastically fun, and a must buy. The shear amount of content with daily challenges, amount of levels and a special Back to Origins mode brings easily 20-30 hours of content. For the crazy collectible fans out there, there is even Teensies (little blue creatures) to collect in each level to lengthen gameplay even further.