Despite having only ever played the original Rayman games (as well as some of the Rabbids titles), I fondly remember watching the announcement trailer for Rayman Origins back in 2010 and being utterly amazed. It felt like it came out of nowhere and even this early trailer showed an astounding amount of charm.
Thankfully, the game came out and didn’t disappoint – it was certainly my game of the year in 2011, is a game I recommended to everyone and stands as one of my favourite games of all time. It was the king of all platformers and one that even Mario could never hold a candle to.
In short, I’ve had higher expectations for the game’s sequel Rayman Legends than perhaps anybody else.
Given this, it’s with great relief that I inform you that I wasn’t disappointed. The first thing you’ll notice about the game is its graphical style, which has been given a greater level of detail and shading since Origins. Through watching trailers I was originally disappointed that Origin’s gorgeous, simple graphics have been altered, but in playing the game I was quick to realise that it totally works – the extra level of detail is beyond phenomenal, the colours are vibrant and attractive and there’s literally never a dull moment, visually speaking.
Seriously, you could take a screen cap at any point during the game and it’ll look interesting and beautiful. The attention to detail that the developers have put in this game is genius; from its wicked design to characters and environments in the background, it’s clear that the developers truly cared about every inch of this game, which has resulted in perhaps the best looking game of the decade.
Gameplay-wise, the game lives up to Origins and then some. It manages to feel like a typical platformer or suffer from Super Mario Galaxy 2-syndrome (that being a sequel to an amazing platformer that feels somewhat tired) as the levels and worlds switch up the gameplay mechanics enough for the game to never really feel samey.
The game’s new hub allows for you to easily switch between levels, worlds and characters as well as lure you into regularly playing with daily/weekly online challenges and the ability to visit your collected creatures, earning you some daily Lums (think Plants Vs. Zombie’s Zen Garden.)
The game is generally not too different from Origins with only a handful of dramatic differences: primarily, there’s the addition of Murfy, who will help you navigate obstacles in particular levels by hitting a button (or using the GamePad on the Wii U version.) Although this mechanic can very occasionally be a nuisance as Murfy sometimes refuses to hover over the obstacle that you’d like him to, generally speaking it works and doesn’t feel too intrusive to the flow of the game.
Then there’s the music levels.
If you’re going to come away from Legends with any eternally memorable moments, the likelihood is that they’re either going to be of the fantastic (but admittedly simple) 3D-ish bosses or the music levels. At the end of each world is a fast-paced, purely platforming level which is synced to a music track in the background. Although they’re not the hardest stages of the game, they’re absolutely the most charming and memorable; the environment moves along to to track, characters pop up in the foreground to ‘sing’ along and the whole stage is designed so that it matches the beats of the song perfectly.
Thank God for the game’s delay, because without it we would be lacking snippets of content that we get from Legends and every drop of it is pure genius. Though the initial impact doesn’t feel quite like Origin’s, it’s clear that Legends has the potential to be the better game. Best game of the year? More like game of the decade.