Rayman Legends Review
Rayman Legends Review – Introduction
The Limb-less Hero is Back
When it comes to platformers, the Rayman games are typically hailed as being among the best. 2011′s Rayman Origins was a critical success, and with the announcement of Rayman Legends, fans have been clamoring for what could be the definitive entry in the series. Well, I think they have it.
While Legends is basically a sequel to Origins, mainly for the cute yet unimportant story, I consider it more of an extension. It features pretty much the exact same gameplay, with the limb-less hero jumping, punching and floating his way to victory, plus a boat-load of playable characters that control the same but have different animations, like the new, axe-wielding character Barbara and her siblings.
The concept of Legends is the same as it’s predecessor, as well. However, instead of selecting stages on a map, Rayman jumps through paintings in a carnival tent that lead to different worlds where he saves Teenies that are being held captive.
Step Into a World (Rayman’s Delight)
The initial jaunt into the tent filled with these warp hole paintings is a little daunting. Other than the narrative context in the opening cinematic – which depicts Rayman and Co. being awakened by Murfy to inform them the Glade of Dreams is under attack – there’s little explanation given for how everything thing works in this glorified menu screen.
Despite my initial confusion, I got the hang of things fairly quickly. This is a game based around collectibles, and virtually everything in the tent must be unlocked by rescuing all the Teenies and finding the floating Lum creatures scattered about every level. The Teenies are the key to opening up more stages, and if 700 are liberated a bonus world is opened.
The Lums, meanwhile, provide access to scratch-it cards that unlock creatures for the creature gallery, stages from Origins and more Lums to add to Rayman’s wallet. Their main purpose, however, is to purchase new characters to play as, either solo or in co-op.
With many games just tacking on items to find for no apparent reason, they feel right at home in Legends, and aren’t a bother to track down. One reason for this are the expertly crafted stages, which are some of the best seen in a Rayman game to date.
Efficient Level Design 101
A lot of the areas are the typical run-and-jump affairs, with plenty of traps to avoid and enemies to pummel, set in forests, castles and deserts. However, many of them mix things up, like those that feature the flying green creature Murfy, who can cut ropes, eat through walls and tickle monsters in order to aid Rayman’s progression. There are even times when he turns a wheel to move a circular, spike-filled maze, while at the same time the player has to carefully weave Rayman through it so he can reach the imprisoned Teeny on the other side.
Even with all of the insanity that each stage brings, and the difficulty gradually rising, they rarely become frustrating. Everything is logically placed, which makes jumping over a pit, then bouncing up a series of flower bud trampolines, followed by breaking open a cage to free a Teeny, quickly pouncing on an enemy and then wall-jumping up a gap, all well collecting Lums, a very smooth experience.
This isn’t to say the game is perfect, though. The local co-op can be a bit messy with four players on the screen at once, and some of the boss fights feel lazy and not exactly necessary. Most of them are either too easy, or a nuisance, like the dragon in first world that’s fought three different times while trying to balance on crumbling platforms.
The highlights for me came during the final stages for each zone, which are auto-scrollers where the action is synched perfectly with the music. The level Castle Rock is one of the best, as Rayman attempts to outrun a wall of fire to the tune of a remixed version of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty”, with every barrier kicked down, every jump, and every rope slide timed with cymbal crashes, bass drum hits and guitar flourishes.
Exploring this richly detailed, vibrant, polished world in Rayman Legends is a pleasure, and it’s at the top of the pile of this year’s best platformers. The only drawbacks are a couple of the uninspired boss battles, and the cluttered co-op and menu screens. Regardless, it’s equally as good as Origins (if not better), and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
- Beautiful art
- Great music
- Stage design is brilliant
- Lots of content
- Some boss fights are real downers
- Too many players can make co-op experience cluttered
- Menu is confusing at first