After an 8 year gap, with the Raving Rabbids filling in, Rayman finally returned with even the lead-developer Michel Ancel coming back. Released for just about every platform available at that time, Rayman was certainly aiming for a grand come-back. It certainly got that and more.
Making a huge noise by simply snoring and eating, Rayman, Globox, Polokus and two Teensies are disturbing the peace and quiet for an old lady, who is literally a skeleton living under them. In a fit of rage, she declares war on our heroes and captures them. They quickly free themselves and set out to save the Electoons that got captured by the granny and her evil army as well. This is the silliness you can expect of the story and it’s stupid, quick and hilarious. So let’s get on with the important bits.
Not just another coat of paint
Rayman Origins is a 2D-sidescrolling platformer with the objective being to get from start to finish. Like the first game, you traverse through different areas with an overworld-map to choose the stages from as you unlock them. Rayman and the other playable characters control in many ways like Rayman did in the first game, with moves such as the punch and helicopter-jump being unlocked by fairies (including Betilla) whom also got captured. None of the characters play differently, so the choice comes down to visual preference.
This time, the game has more focus on speedrunning, with you even starting of with the ability to run and slide. You never need to stop and the platforming is always on the go, with some stages even being auto-scrolling and others being shooting-stages. The shooting-stages still make you dodge obstacles, and your ammunition, which is a form of spitting, can ricochet off walls and will come in handy for more than just defeating enemies. Rayman and the gang are even fast under water and just about 90% of the stages have a time-attack mode where you are tested in how quickly you can finish them. The boss-battles are also more like the platforming-stages than regular fights, which makes them much more entertaining in my eyes, due to not slowing down the speed. Having the ability to wall-jump and wall-run also being unlockables should indicate how diverse the platforming can be, since the stages make good use of the abilities you have acquired. Each stage is vibrant and imaginative, with a good difficulty-curve that tests your skills slightly more each time. Even the enemies complement the platforming, being usable for speedrunning by jumping on them at times to keep up the momentum.
Just like previous Rayman-games there are cages that must be broken. Instead of being a part of the stage, except for the last one that acts as a goal-post, they are hidden in doors in the levels, leading to a smaller rooms where you must traverse small obstacle-courses in order to free them. Another way of acquiring them is to get as many lums in a stage as possible. There are also hidden treasures in the form of Skeleton-coins that you must carry a certain distance without taking damage , which gives you a ton of lums. The game has a generous checkpoint-system with infinite lives, which is good because this game can be a challenge with one-hit deaths for all the playable-characters, unless they pick up a heart that can give them one extra hit.
With a focus on making Rayman do what he does best, Ubisoft showed that they could go beyond this concept and focus on every stage being fast and entertaining. If that wasn’t enough, the game can be played in co-op with up to 4-players without it being a hindrance. You can punch each other, but never block by simply standing there, and should one bite the dust and blow up to a balloon, the others can simply help him get back by touching him. I really don’t think I could ask for much more than this.
Gameplay Score: 10/10
Colorful and silly
This is the first game to take advantage of UbiArt, and really, what a beautiful game it is, with strong colors, detailed levels and a bizarre look for the characters. They all feel silly and over-the-top, with good use of “puppet-animation” mixed with hand-drawn graphics. Despite the new look, it simply feels like the classic Rayman, due to it being imaginative and having just enough silliness to show that it simply wants to have fun. From the hot lava-world, that later turns out to be a kitchen to the desert-band land, the levels aren’t just creative, but even more dreamlike than ever before.
The soundtrack is varied and complements each stage with a different mood, use of instruments, silly choirs and even some platforms that give the beat of an instrument when you jump on them. Going from the mysterious music-world in the desert to the slumbersome tone of the water-world, shows how imaginative and diverse they had to be and they delivered with quality. One of the composers behind this imaginative soundtrack, is the composer for Beyond Good and Evil, who is known for creating a diverse and fantastic soundtrack. This is no different.
Presentation Score: 9/10
JUST ONE MORE TRY!
The game clocks around 8-10 hours to simply get through, but trying to get everything, including doing the speedruns, can at least double the playtime. Playing through stages is a blast and getting new costumes and stages as you get more Electoons is great bonuses. However there aren’t any bonuses for getting a gold-medal for collecting a lot of lums or getting the Time-Trophies for completing time-attacks, which is odd and bit of a shame due to how challenging this can be. I suppose they are at least shiny.
Extra Score: 8/10
We really are going back to the original concept, but Rayman Origin goes even further by giving us one of the best platformers ever. With great level-design that takes advantage of your moveset, high-speed, co-op with up to 4-players, amazing presentation, good replay-value, it would be impressive if they could go beyond this. They would have to make something Legendary…