Rayman Legends has had a long road getting to release. Now that it is finally here, we can all bask in the joy of one of the finest platformers of this generation. Launching across essentially all platforms, Ubisoft’s follow-up to Origins is packed full of the same gorgeous animation and charm the series is known for. Combine that with its insanely fun boss battles, cooperative play and dynamic mechanics, and Legends could easily be this generation’s finest in the genre. I could not stop going back to these levels even after completing the entire campaign, and that speaks volumes.
There is a story here, but not one that folks will be writing about. Teensies are being held captive by Dark Teensies and the world is being swallowed in a nightmare. Rayman and his cohorts must save the day. I never found much reason to care, and cut scenes only served to distract from the action.
Originally designed as a Wii U exclusive, this latest entry has seen its share of delays. While the Wii U version remains largely the same, the other versions have made strides to work the Gamepad-only gameplay into the mix. On the Wii U (and Vita) players are often treated to a second-screen experience. This consists of slicing barriers or tickling enemies so a free-moving Globox can progress through a level. On the other consoles this is achieved with a button press. I actually prefer not having the second-screen option. More times than not, Globox would make bad decisions or jumps, forcing me to repeat the section over.
Across the board the rest of the platforming will feel familiar to anyone who played Origins. This is platforming at its finest. The simple concepts found in Rayman Legends are stretched out in an amazing array of variety. I never thought four simple actions could be stretched so far. It is all thanks to level design. Each area not only contains a unique look and feel, but also tests the players reflexes with pinpoint timing, and fantastic design. Crafting levels that can be challenging, but also fair, is tough. Crafting enough of them to span a 12-hour campaign is a feat and one that Ubisoft has managed to pull off.
What keeps Legends fresh is the variety in levels. Completing a level unlocks a new way to play it featuring rhythmic functionality. Rushing through a level to the beat of music is both fun and unique. There are also a bevy of other level types including stealth sections and the return of shooting segments, although the mosquito-riding boss segments are sadly gone. There are also a ton of collectibles to find and even levels from Origins to unlock. Needless to say, if anyone missed the original game, this is the one to own.
Cooperative play returns and is addictive as ever. Wii U owners even get an extra bonus by being able to house five players with the fifth delegated to flipping switches and such on the Gamepad. Regardless of how it is played, the pandemonium created when four players are on screen is intense. Clearing jumps and just keeping track of characters is as insane as it is fun. It is worth noting that this is only local though, which is likely a good thing in some respects. One hint of lag could ruin an otherwise great experience. Still the omission is notable.
One cannot deny the visual beauty of Legends though. Like its predecessor, the visuals here simply jump off the screen into my living room. It is almost worth watching others play to simply enjoy just how good it really looks. Animations feel right out of the best cartoons, and the design is both insane, and brilliant. Audio stands just as tall with the aforementioned rhythm levels pumping out familiar tunes. Characters still speak gibberish, but it is pleasant gibberish. Overall there is little that Rayman Legends does presentation-wise that disappoints.
Rayman Legends is the type of game that doesn’t really stand out on any one gimmick or mechanic. This is a platform game of the traditional sense, yet when I play it, I cannot stop. It’s the sublime control or lush visuals that keep things moving, or simply the chaos induced multiplayer. Either way everything just comes together for one unbelievable experience. Delaying it has given everyone a chance to experience what might be one of the last great platformers this generation. Don’t hesitate to jump in and experience it now.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Wii U and PS Vita.