I cannot begin to describe the excitement I had diving into Rayman Origins for the first time. It wasn’t just as a fan of the series that I was ecstatic to see a classic platformer with 2D visuals that leaped off the screen in gorgeous 1080p. It is rare that a game can combine stellar mechanics and old school gameplay, while still being able to find relevance in a gaming world filled with war shooters and open-world adventures. Rayman Origins is exactly what gamers like me have been clamoring for and just what the current flock of players truly need. It is a gorgeous, well-designed platformer that doesn’t require you to own a waggle-only console to play.
The first thing that stands out about Origins is the visuals. This game is probably one of the best looking 2D games I have seen. The levels are all brilliantly designed, and the animations are just as impressive as they are wacky. It is hard not to smile while you bounce on giant drums in the desert or are flying through the air on the back of a bug-eyed mosquito. This game is in a class all its own when it comes to style and design. The colors simply jump off the screen and deliver a crisp and clean picture that is just as pleasing as it is impressive.
It is hard to pinpoint what exactly makes playing Origins so much fun. On the surface, this is a standard platformer with mechanics you have seen a million times before. It more than likely stems from the fact that the game doesn’t throw the same stuff at you until it isn’t fun anymore. Instead, the new abilities are introduced over time and reused for different scenarios. For example, later in the game you earn the ability to traverse walls. Only after a few levels will you see the true potential behind this power as you take down enemies, snatch collectibles and, of course, solve platforming puzzles. By the end of the game, you will be utilizing all of Rayman’s abilities in some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, platforming this side of a certain Italian plumber.
Yes, even with its kid-friendly exterior, Rayman Origins packs one heck of a challenge. The later levels in the game will have you testing your timing abilities to the max. One thing stood out as I neared the final levels of the game though; I didn’t mind having to do it again and again. Very few games successfully handle repetition anymore, but Origins pulls it off by being so well-designed that any time you fail, you realize it was your doing. It also helps that finally accomplishing these daunting sections is immensely rewarding. Ubisoft has found the perfect balance between challenge and reward, making the more difficult sections of the game some of the most fun.
There is just so much to see and do here that you can get overwhelmed. The main game travels along nicely with varying worlds and challenges that fit the standard platformer fare. Each level also comes with challenges, such as finding hidden cages to smash and even time trials that you unlock after beating each stage. Just when you think the game is coming to a close, four new worlds open up, and even after that, you can still unlock one of the most challenging sections of the game: Night of the Livid Dead. There is just so much to see, and the beauty is that you don’t mind revisiting levels simply because of their visual fidelity, and outstanding design.
Of course, the most impressive aspect (and most addictive) is the couch multiplayer with friends. Think New Super Mario Bros., and you get the idea. The game supports up to four players, and if you thought the stages were interesting to explore alone, you haven’t seen anything yet. At times, this makes the game easier as you have someone to revive you when you perish, while other times it becomes intimidating simply because there is so much you have to account for. Still, get three friends together and the fun begins. Sadly, there is no online option, but honestly, this is the type of experience that demands all players to be in the same room.
There is genuinely just so much to love about Rayman Origins that I cannot recommend it enough. If you have any love for the platforming genre, or 2D games in general, I highly recommend picking it up. Not only will it tell developers and publishers that we still yearn for this type of game, but it will also provide hours of entertainment. That I can guarantee. If you have never experienced a real Rayman game, there has never been a better time. The stellar visuals, addictive couch co-op and simply elegant level design make this one of the sleeper hits of the fall season. Do yourself a favor, and don’t miss out on this fantastic experience.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.