Rayman Legends Review
Rayman Legends sees the limbless cartoon hero Rayman return for more fast paced platforming action in the follow up to the excellent Rayman Origins – a game that set a high bar for its sequel.
Strikingly beautiful, delightfully whimsical and technically fantastic, Rayman Legends is a match for its predecessor in almost every way.
In fact, Rayman Legends is a game that has far more ideas than Origins, ideas that produce some wonderful moments and show a welcome desire to offer something genuinely new rather than a rehash of what Ubisoft Montpellier has already done.
Unfortunately, the trade off for that creativity is a game that is less consistent in its level design and is occasionally marred by unfulfilled potential and mechanics that feel a bit forced.
Rayman Legends – The World
Something that’s immediately discernable about Rayman Legends is that the game looks fantastic. The hand-drawn visuals are a sight to behold and the game’s exuberant levels pop with colour and pulse with life.
Progression through those worlds is based around collecting Teensies – little blue creatures that are to be found dotted around Rayman Legends’ levels.
You’ll usually find a few simply by virtue of playing through a level, but many will be hidden in secret nooks and crannies which are fun to search out and satisfying to find.
The Teensies you collect will add to a total in your hub area, which will unlock paintings that represent new levels. Leap into that painting to start the level and collect more Teensies, and so on.
If that sounds repetitive, don’t worry, because despite the basic formula remaining steadfast, Rayman Legends has plenty of variety in its level design and implements a couple of new ideas that were not present in Rayman Origins.
How Rayman Legends Innovates
The most notable of Rayman Legends’ gameplay innovations is the introduction of Murphy the Fairy. Murphy’s not always around, but when he does join you, he brings with him the ability to change the environment at your behest.
This will vary from getting Murphy to move platforms and press switches, to having the little fella’ poke enemies in the eye, or tickle a hulking brute in order to distract them.
Here you can’t help but be reminded that Rayman Legends was originally slated to be a Wii U exclusive, as it’s clear that the actions Murphy performs are built around that console’s tablet controller.
That’s less of a problem than you might imagine. The sections in which Murphy are included are often good fun. Having Murphy move platforms around and deal with obstacles in your path while you also negotiate the environment as Rayman often requires quick reflexes and adds a nice bit of challenge to the platforming.
There are also a number of levels that introduce a stealth element – indicative of the kind of invention and variety to be found in Rayman Legends – and these levels are often based around using Murphy to move objects to aid your unseen progress.
Unfortunately, there are times when Murphy does feel like an unnecessary holdover from the Wii U version, some of his actions being clearly better suited to a touchscreen device and a little finicky when forced into a standard control system.
Rayman Legends – Challenge, Control and Kinetics
Fortunately, controlling Rayman is never a problem. Despite the game’s cutesy exterior, Rayman Legends can be pretty difficult (though perhaps less so than Origins), so its important that the game gives players the tools to meet the challenge with which they are being presented. Tight controls ensure that is the case.
That the game controls so well is for the best, as Rayman Legends is clearly designed to be played with a certain sense of abandon and is at its best when at full flow.
You will likely find yourself naturally inclined to play that way as you improve, but there are also a number of levels that aim to cultivate that kinetic play-style.
The most notable of these are Rayman Legends’ music levels, which force the player to run at full pelt, jumping, punching and kicking their way through the level in time with the music.
When playing through Rayman Legends’ first music level, Castle Rock, you would have to possess a cold heart not to have a massive smile plastered all over your face as you play along to a wonderfully silly rendition of Black Betty, clear signposting ensuring that it’s clear what is expected of you along the way. The level leaves you salivating for what’s to come.
It’s a massive disappointment then to find that the majority of Rayman Legends’ music levels just don’t match up, especially after Castle Rock has already proved how brilliantly the concept can work.
Rayman Legends – Dealing With Disapointment
The biggest disappointment in the game, however, is Rayman Legends last world, Living Dead Party.
As with Rayman Origins, Legends can be superficially ‘completed’ without taking on the last world. In Origins, however, the final world provided players with a fiendishly difficult and punishing test of their skills. In Legends, that’s not the case.
Instead, the final world just presents a rehash of the game’s music levels in “8-bit style”. As if that weren’t disappointing enough, the way that these levels are made more challenging is by having the screen distorted in various ways so that you struggle to see what is happening.
These rehashed levels and their artificial difficulty are a real let down when you are eagerly anticipating a whole new world with which to test your finely honed skills.
What makes this more baffling is the fact that Rayman Legends is a game which is so generous with its content in every other aspect.
Most notably, Rayman Legends includes a ‘Back to Origins’ mode which allows players to play through a whole host of tweaked levels from Rayman Origins.
As well as Back to Origins mode, Rayman Legends has a host of time trial levels, which, unlike Origins, are original levels rather than a timed version of normal levels, as well monsters to collect, characters to unlock, not to mention the prospect of finding all 700 Teensies and getting a gold trophy on every level.
We might have prefrerred more time was spent on the final world, but you certainly can’t criticise Rayman Legends for lack of things to do.
Rayman Legends in Summary
Rayman Legends is an excellent platformer that is more than worthy of your time. Tight controls, incredible art design, varied gameplay and some clever ideas combine to create an endearing world that is both pleasurable and satisfying to move through.
Kudos to Ubisoft Montpellier for the ambition they have shown in creating a game with more variety than its predecessor.
It’s a shame that some ideas fall flat, but it’s a price you should be willing to pay for a game that, at its core, is incredibly fun and that provides a number of interesting, exciting and exhilarating moments.
Were is not for a few missteps, Rayman Legends could have been a classic. While it may not be that, it’s still a fantastic game.
Version tested: Xbox 360