I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for 2D platformers, especially since it’s a criminally unused genre these days. While it’s alive and well in the indie gaming community, there hasn’t been a mainstream platformer on the consoles (excluding Nintendo) in quite a while. After the critical acclaim garnered by Rayman Origins, I was pretty excited to get my hands on Rayman Legends. Will it be able to step out of the shadow cast by the first game?
Taking place right after Rayman Origins, Rayman and his friends have been taking a ten year nap. As they sleep, The Bubble Dreamer (who is only mildly creepy) starts having nightmares that…come to life? The plot wasn’t exactly well explained or the focal point of the game. So, Rayman and his friends must release the ten princesses who were captured by the nightmares and evil magicians. Outside of a brief opening cutscene, there’s really no plot to Rayman Legends.
The gameplay is some of the most solid platforming in the last few years, combining tight controls with phenomenal level design. While the the basic gameplay tires out pretty quickly, it stays fresh by steadily introducing new techniques throughout the game. By the time you’ve reached the final set of levels, you’ve got a handful of different moves to utilize in order to succeed. The platforming only really changes when you’re introduced to the, “20,000 Lums Under the Sea” painting. The mix of platforming, puzzles, and stealth make for a uniquely enjoyable experience. There are 150+ levels to play in Rayman Legends, but if it weren’t for the incredible art style and visuals, most of these levels could easily blend together.
Speaking of the art style, Rayman Legends is simply gorgeous. Combining 3D rendering with storybook art style, it makes this game feel like you’re reading a beautifully illustrated book. It’s easy to stop in the middle of a level, just to look at the world you’re running around in. Sadly, that usually causes you to die and start over from a checkpoint. Is it worth it? I think so. Not to mention, there is a solid soundtrack backing up the visuals. While you won’t be running to your local record store to get the soundtrack, it’s a playful, dance-inspiring companion to a lighthearted game.
While Rayman Legends is a rainbow laughfest, there are still a few things that snag at my enjoyment of this platformer. First off, the difficulty was severely unbalanced. The first few sections of the game were predictably easy, but instead of gradually becoming more difficult, the developers just sprinkled viciously hard levels randomly. I could be sleepwalking through a “2 Star” level, then suddenly come across a frustratingly tough section, then it goes right back to a cakewalk. Another problem I ran into is that the platforming, while well executed, still couldn’t completely escape feeling repetitive. I’m sure any youngsters playing this game could go for days without taking a break, but I frequently found myself daydreaming about playing other games. Then again, I may have just caught that ADHD bug that seems to be going around.
Achievement Hounds, this may be a divisive game. I beat the game and only got 280/1,000 Gamerscore, even though I have about half of the achievements. If you’re into collecting and spending a lot of time mastering a game, then Rayman Legends is for you. If you pick this up, thinking it’ll be an easy way to net some achievements, better to rethink that. This may look like an easy, little game, but the achievements aren’t joking around. If you’re looking to get the perfect 1,000, prepare to beat every level with a perfect rating and start participating in a lot of community challenges. As for me, I’ll be proud of my measly 280 points.
You can’t deny how happy and pleasant Rayman Legends feels. Whether you’re laughing at the simple humor, taking in how beautiful the game is, or experiencing the well-tuned platforming, this game has a lot to enjoy and take advantage of. Especially for the younger gamers out there, Rayman Legends is a solid choice for your library of games. The difficulty may be as balanced as a drunk on a highwire, but the overall quality of the game makes up for it. If you’re old and crabby, like myself, you may not be able to play much of it at a time, but you certainly don’t want to miss this game.
I give Rayman Legends 4 “Flying Pigs” out of 5
By Blake Edwards