Rayman Origins is a breath of fresh air. Just as gamers were being bombarded with war-torn worlds and dragon slaying epics, Ubisoft's beautiful platformer peeks its little head out from nowhere, revealing a true gem in a seemingly dying genre. Just as platformers were relegated to downloadable platforms like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade, Rayman Origins proves that classic gameplay for an old style still provides room for innovation. This mind-numbingly difficult adventure is a real treat on your own or with friends, further complimented by a stunning world and a charming soundtrack. Rayman is back with vengeance, here to prove that the traditional 2D platformer still has a place in the industry.
Check out Rayman Origins in action!
What Rayman Origins Got Right
A refined limbless hero - Ubisoft seems to have acknowledged the freedom that a limbless body should have. That's right: Rayman controls just as one would expect a fully functioning limbless individual to, having evolved into a speedy and incredibly fun to control character. Rayman's design is especially refined to suit the game's love for speed, encouraging you to run through levels like as if you're playing a Sonic game. It can make for a frustratingly difficult experience, but a rewarding sense of progression awaits once you master Rayman's limbless functionality.
Difficulty makes for satisfying pacing - Rayman Origins present an interesting dilemma: it's cute and memorable, thanks in-part to its gorgeous worlds, lovey-dovey soundtrack and charming humour. However, it's a hidden terror not alike that of a Mogwai waiting to feast after midnight: it's devilishly cute but ultimately out to get you. It never really treks into controller-throwing territory, but it is most certainly a trial-and-error experience. You'll speed through levels and die often, but that's part of what helps fuel the experience. You're not meant to breeze through this in a few hours, and the game makes sure you know that. Platforms are deceivingly placed, enemies are plentiful and aggressive but especially intriguing and cute, while the boss battles will stick with you for a long time. Rayman Origins is exactly what a 2D platformer should be: insanely difficult with a great sense of reward and progression.
Stunning worlds - In a time when apocalyptic war-torn worlds dominate videogame charts, seeing such a stunningly created world in Rayman Origins is a welcomed relief. This side-scrolling platformer offers some of the most vibrant, colourful and inviting worlds this generation, and probably one of the best in a platformer yet. It truly is a stunning game, one with a fantastical imagination that helps reinvent the tiring Rayman universe.
Fantastic co-op fun - Rayman Origins is a highly enjoyable single-player platformer, offering fun gameplay mechanics in a world seaming with life. Where the game really thrives, though, is when you play with friends. The game's refined upgrading system allows player characters to slowly but surely improve abilities and attacks, making for a progressively deeper experience the further into the adventure you get.
Enter Rayman's world
What Rayman Origins Got Wrong
Obsessive, demanding focus on collectibles - Part of Rayman Origin's difficult lies in its focus on collectibles as a sense of progression, namely in the second-half of the experience. Earlier levels don't really push home the idea of searching areas for hidden items, yet later levels demand that you return to earlier worlds in order to progress. This does feel like somewhat of a trivial concern as it encourages you to search and perfect your skills in each area. However, it creates a sense of inconsistency that certainly hurts the pacing later on. Hardly a deal breaker but frustrating nonetheless.
The Final Verdict
I know what you're thinking: why should I pay full-price for a game that seems to be of the scope of a download-only title? Rayman Origins might seem like your typical run-of-the-mill 2D side-scroller, which is exactly the type of game spewed all over the likes of Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store. However, this game's fitting categorisation shouldn't degrade its worth, as it's an experience filled with unlockables, collectibles boss battles and even illusive hidden stages. If you get the time to pull yourself away from the massive Skyrim, the intense Modern Warfare 3, the battle antics of Battlefield 3 and the dildo-slapping of Saints Row: The Third, be sure to give Rayman Origins a try. It's one of the most charming, engaging, challenging and beautiful games this generation.
By Gaetano Prestia