Rayman Legends is without a doubt, one of the most impressive platformers in existence during this console generation. Despite the fact first-person shooters and sandbox games have essentially become the biggest draw for mainstream audiences, I am grateful that developers like Ubisoft haven’t completely abandoned the demographic for those who still enjoy the conventional side-scroller adventure.
After seventeen years, the essence of what elevated Rayman to stardom among the likes of Sonic and Mario was in dire need of fresh ideas. And fortunately for us, Michel Ancel and Ubisoft Montipeller proved their think tank is still fully armed and loaded with imagination. The release of Rayman Origins introduced a reimagined world that takes the best parts from its predecessors and presents an amazing product that’s full of fantasy, intrigue and smiles.
It’s a game after all and like its predecessor, Rayman Legends ensures that you’ll be abundantly entertained from beginning to end.
Although the adventure isn’t heavily weighed down by pointless narratives to drive the story (sorry Duck Tales), players can easily follow along that Rayman (and friends) are Fairy Glade’s best hope to save the Teensies (adorable tiny beings) from their evil counterparts and other vicious creatures.
Unlike previous installments, Rayman’s trademark attacks are available right from the start. The pace is very balanced in which every technique will be utilized to the fullest. And while gamers these days tend to be accustomed to games delivering everything but the kitchen sink, Legends adheres to the old-fashioned proverb that “less is more” and that suits me just fine.
Each adventure is creatively portrayed as paintings, which from closer inspection appear to be innocent parodies from feature films labeled with such titles as 20,000 Lums Under the Sea and The Dark Creatures Rise. Every world is divided into several levels where you must save a specific number of Teensies while collecting copious amounts of Lums – the latter of which leads to unlocking additional content in the form of new levels, characters, and other minutia solidifies the game’s replay value for hours upon end. Before every world is considered “complete”, you’ll be tasked with saving a specific character in distress, followed by a “musical” level that’s plays similar to Rayman: Fiesta Run released for mobile devices.
If your goal is to complete the game to the fullest extent, be prepared to spend more than one sitting. Some areas will be harder than others so its a good idea to take note of the number of skulls that correspond to the level of difficulty. In other words, one skull is a breeze and the maximum number denotes that the level is destined to test your patience to the limit.
Legends gradually builds up your confidence in the beginning as you can pick up on cries for help, often revealing the Teensies in plain sight, however situations will arise where some diligent scouting is necessary to uncover hidden areas where they await in captivity. Danger awaits in all shapes and sizes as you scale ledges, underwater caverns and dimly lit dungeons. It goes without saying that everyone who plays this game will surely marvel about the visuals and sheer amount of detail given to every element in the game. Want to spend a few minutes admiring the scenery? That’s fine – Legends isn’t charging by the minute. Just make sure you’re out of harm’s way before you break into tourist mode.
Players can always take a quick break from the single-player campaign and engage the Daily Challenges. These assorted mini-game attractions are basically a contest to see who can achieve the best completion times in collecting items or traveling the furthest distance, to name a few. A local versus attraction is also available in the form of a virtual soccer event, which is destined to be a bigger hit with younger audiences, like my daughter, who’s insisted that I play the game on a daily frequency.
While the level design boasts tons of charm and personality, it also has a habit of being downright frustrating. No need to get worked up over that the loss of life. Death is inevitable. But with an endless supply of lives and key checkpoints certainly helps to minimize any potential grief that’s bound to arise as you scale throughout the 40+ stages. Personally I am glad Legends wasn’t engineered to be a cakewalk unlike most modern-day titles that suffer from such a weak learning curve that diminishes the overall value and longevity for those seeking a challenge.
Rayman’s abilities are efficient for the job at hand. In the event you want to mix things up, a quick visit to the Heroes gallery offers the opportunity to select from any available unlocked character selections like Globox and Barbara, a newcomer to the series who could easily pass as Angelica’s ancestor. I kept expecting her to throw out some type of Rugrats reference since her likeness is so similar. It’s uncanny. My only gripe with the character selection is that they don’t have any real distinctive abilities. Everyone is basically follows the same blueprint as Rayman. I suppose the thought of giving the cast abilities like the ability to float or increased jumping attributes would have been considered like a direct correlation of what Princess Peach and Luigi showcased in Super Mario Bros. 2. Nevertheless, the novelty is still welcomed, and perhaps at some point in the future, we’ll see some variation of this come to fruition.
Speaking of expansion, the co-op is also evocative of New Super Mario Bros. multiplayer concept that has become a new staple in Nintendo’s latest platformer offerings and is a perfect fit in Rayman Legends. Reportedly the Wii U version allows for a 5th player to join in the fun and take control of Murphy to activate switches, cut ropes and clear the path from deadly obstacles. Other version have fashioned this feature to be nothing more than a glorified cursor that doesn’t feel quite as intuitive and often felt like a nuisance to facilitate seamlessly clearly a board without constantly falling to your death. While there’s a generous degree of checkpoints during the earlier levels of the game, these gradually become less plentiful as you progress further into some of the more challenging levels such as the “Invaded” levels – which present new objectives and enemies usually associated with timed-based conditions.
If Ubisoft is looking to start a new revolution, then Rayman Legends is definitely a solid step forward in the right direction. It’s teeming with personality and easy for any casual or hardcore gamer to pick up and enjoy. With the dawn of new consoles just on the horizon, my greatest hope is that Ubisoft will continue to bring us more titles of this caliber.