When Rayman Origins was launched in 2011, nobody was expecting the amazing level of quality produced. It had been eight years since a proper Rayman release, and the franchise came back hotter than ever. With Ubisoft striking gold, they continued their success into Rayman Legends, touting a much more robust title. Ubisoft delivered on a sequel that is undeniably better in almost every way possible. However, the most important factor kept from Rayman Origins is the ability to continually instill happiness beyond belief.
Returning from the previous game are all the characters you love. Rayman, Globox and friends are back and ready to run, jump and punch their way to saving the world. Joining them is a new friend, Murfy, who has to wake up the lazy heroes from a long slumber to stop the evil nightmares that are being produced and capturing Teensies. The only real reason for the light story is to simply put the player right into the action and not have to deal with any boring story elements that can sometimes plague simple platforming games. The truncated story comes across as welcome because — let’s be honest — you’re playing Rayman Legends to enjoy the wealth of entertainment the game offers.
Nearly everything is kept from Rayman Origins, from the art style to the incredibly solid platforming mechanics. With more experience in the UbiArt engine, levels are far more detailed and varied than its predecessor. The catchy music is back as well — except more profound — and is a key focus of much of the game. Other small changes were made to make the game even more enjoyable from a game play standpoint. From the start, Rayman already has all of the powers like wall running and swimming from Rayman Origins. This allows for Rayman Legends to start off explosive and not feel like a slog through the first couple of worlds as in its predecessor. The sole fact of being able to hover after jumping from the beginning helps newcomers who can’t quite calculate the perfect jumps yet.
What really makes Rayman Legends stand out from its predecessor is its outstanding level design. Nearly every level feels different from the last, with new enemies, environments and mechanics being introduced or emphasized to some degree. Boss battles also return at the end of each world and are truly a sight to behold, whether it be a dragon breathing fire within the city or a gigantic luchador pounding you with his fists.The most exciting parts of Rayman Legends take the form of music levels where you’re constantly moving in one direction and performing actions to the rhythm of the music. Popular songs like “Black Betty” and “Eye of the Tiger” are used here to astonishing amusement. These are the most special moments in Rayman Legends, and rarely do games emit such a high level of elation when playing.
The biggest addition to the platforming formula is Murfy. He is available in about half the levels to help you reach the end. He’ll follow along with you, pulling levers or moving platforms to get past some obstacle. The first few levels with Murfy are underwhelming, and until you get the hang of controlling him while simultaneously running, they tend to be slightly annoying. It isn’t until the latter half of the game that the sequences with Murfy start to really come together and are worthy of their addition to the game.
Rayman Legends has also overhauled the status of collectibles and secrets in the levels. Lums are still able to be collected, but this time, there are many more secret Teensies to find throughout the levels. It was painful to try for 100% a level in Rayman Origins, but in Rayman Legends, the process is much more streamlined. The multiplier sequences in Origins are translated into a series of Lums that are multiplied if collected in sequential order. It also helps that there are far more Lums in a level, so if a few aren’t collected, getting the appropriate amount for a 100% run isn’t nearly as difficult. Compared to Rayman Origins, where I had no motivation to go back to previous levels, I found myself eager to go back and fully complete older levels, lengthening my playtime with the game.
Rayman Legends boasts an absurd number of collectibles. In addition to Lums, there are Teensies, creatures, cups and Origins levels. Collecting Lums in levels helps to ensure cups, ranging from bronze to gold based on how many Lums are collected. Lums also unlock characters, which are simply skins for the existing characters. Teensies unlock further levels to progress in the game and are awarded by finding and setting them free in levels. Cups help boost your “awesomeness” level, which doesn’t really do much besides make you feel awesome. Creatures are odd little things that generate Lums every day in a museum-like area. The most interesting additions are the Origins levels that can be unlocked. Taken from Rayman Origins are 40 levels redone in the Rayman Legends mechanics and collectible style. Each level also has a Lucky Ticket to be won and scratched off that can be used to unlock any of the above collectibles.
It’s admittedly overwhelming at first, but the idea behind the vast number of collectibles is to not only keep the player engaged but to instill positive reinforcement at every point possible. The unlocking pattern keeps you consistently feeling happy and rewarded with the upmost amount of glee possible. Even the silly Lucky Ticket minigame helps to keep you anticipated at what you might possibly unlock next. I have never played a game that has so eloquently put together a reward system that made me clamor for every possible collectible.
Even after the credit sequence has rolled through, there is still an insane amount of content to keep you busy. Nearly every level has an “invasion” time trial, which is a short burst of the level redone in a much more challenging manner. These time trials range from mildly hard to yelling-at-my-TV difficult. However, this difficulty allows for an incredible feeling of achievement when finally beating the level, and they’re short enough that I didn’t ever felt defeated when failing multiple times in a row.
The sheer fact that Ubisoft included over half of the levels from Rayman Origins is a crazy addition. The only unfortunate thing about the inclusion is that, after playing the fast-paced and varied levels from Rayman Legends, the Origins levels feel a bit dated and not nearly as polished. On top of the Origins levels, there are the daily and weekly challenges. These are quick levels that include tasks like collecting as many Lums as possible in a dojo-style arena or running as far as you can in a seemingly endless dungeon. The challenges are actually difficult to beat, and the idea is brilliant because it kept me coming back to the world of Rayman Legends long after I had finished it. Another addition is a local multiplayer game mode called Kung Foot in which you have to punch a soccer ball into the opposing side’s goal. It’s an outrageously enjoyable minigame that is a blast to play with friends.
What isn’t as enjoyable with friends is the main game. Local co-op is available to have up to three friends join as you play through the levels. Unfortunately, Rayman Legends feels predominantly designed for a single person to play, and having more people join results in chaos. It’s still hilarious to smack around your friends, but the game feels far more rewarding and enjoyable in a single-player fashion.
Rayman Legends is nothing short of an achievement. Not often do sequels improve on their predecessor in such a wildly robust manner. Ubisoft has done everything possible to inject their game with content that never feels like filler and consistently keeps the player engaged through the endearing game play and reward systems. Every aspect of Rayman Legends collaborates into a single focused vision of instilling pure joy. It’s hard in the gaming industry today to create a platformer that stands the test of time. However, it’s safe to say that Rayman can join the likes of Mario and Sonic as one of the true legends of the platforming genre.
Note: My impressions from this review were from the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC versions. I have no experience with the Wii U version, which has different controls.