Two-dimensional platformers were once some of the most common video games around, no matter where you looked, they were there attempting to grab your attention. Nowadays they are few and far between and often overlooked. Rayman Legends
, the follow up to 2011’s Rayman Origins
, has finally made its way to the Xbox One, but can our limbless hero prove that the genre still has legs?
Following the conclusion of Rayman Origins
, and exhausted from the ordeal, the heroes take a well-deserved, 100-year long nap. During this time, the Bubble Dreamer has been having numerous nightmares which have created new, terrifying monsters and has resulted in the Glade of Dreams once again being in grave danger and the Teensies being imprisoned. Of course this is more of a premise than an actual story line and, to be honest, apart from the opening and closing sequences it isn’t otherwise mentioned. Though that isn’t a bad thing, Rayman
doesn’t need a complicated character-driven story to define it, as the gameplay speaks volumes for itself.
Those familiar with Rayman Origins
will instantly feel right at home with Legends
as the controls and gameplay mechanics are pretty much identical. One button is used to jump, another to attack and the right trigger puts our hero into a sprint. As with its predecessor, players are tasked with running, jumping, swimming, bouncing and swinging their way through the various stages, collecting as many Lums as possible while attempting to avoid the numerous enemies and death traps that invariably get in the way, halting your impressive run and sending you back to the nearest checkpoint.
A part of Rayman
’s charms is that the game never holds your hand and lets you experience everything on your own. While it may give you reminders as to the controls, it will never tell you exactly what to do and expects you to learn what’s coming up through trial and error. With each failure comes an understanding of the trials ahead and even if a section seems impossible at first, fraught with many a death, persistence triumphs and soon you’ll be darting between walls, dodging fireballs and chainsaws like it was second nature. Eventually you’ll run into another difficult section that, at first, seems to want you to react faster than humanly possible. It’s these difficulty spikes, and surpassing them, that make the game feel so rewarding.
It’s not all about manic dashes either, the “Mansion of the Deep” level has a unique platforming take on the stealth-action genre and sees Rayman using his characteristic nimbleness and agility to avoid lasers and spotlights. The change in pace gives players time to think through the obstacles without fear of impending enemy attacks or collapsing platforms. Of course once comfortable with the layout, this doesn’t stop you from rushing through.
Murfy makes his first appearance in the series as a controllable character. While not fully playable, he appears from time to time to help our hero by cutting ropes and moving obstacles, all of which is controlled by the player pressing the B button. This may not seem like much, but adding a fourth button to the simple, three-button control system ramps up the difficulty a notch just by having one more thing to think about, especially when a section already requires you to sprint, run and jump. Unfortunately, unlike the Wii U version, Murfy cannot be controlled by a second player using a second screen. With Microsoft's SmartGlass push, it would have been a nice bonus to see that optional functionality integrated here.
is jam packed with content, not only does it feature eighty new stages, but it also includes forty unlockable and reworked stages from Rayman Origins
, a host of daily and weekly challenges, sixty unlockable creatures that reward you with bonus Lums once a day and twenty-nine additional characters. Ten of these characters require you to complete specific stages and the other nineteen which require a boatload of Lums to unlock, with the final Rayomz character requiring a massive one million Lums. The sheer size of the game will bring players back for more and keep completionists going for quite some time.
One of the more notable additions is the inclusion of the music-based rhythm levels where each jump, rope slide, and attack are performed in time with the stage’s musical themes, which include parodies of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty”, a mariachi rendition of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and a bubbly cover of 184.108.40.206's “Woo Hoo”. As with many of the regular stages, timing is the key to progression, so putting these sections to music is a perfect fit and a stroke of genius that provides some of the most enjoyable and memorable moments in the game. They are so well put together that they make you want to replay these parts time and again, not only to improve upon previous attempts, but to hear each piece of music in its entirety and completely uninterrupted. Rayman Legends
is absolutely gorgeous, the hand painted style of the artwork is stunning to say the least, filled with varied and vibrant styles each with their own distinct flavours. From crumbling castles and luscious jungles, worlds made entirely of food inhabited by brightly coloured centipedes, to an underwater city that would be right at home in BioShock
, each area is extremely well-presented and comes to life. The extra power of the next gen tech isn’t really that noticeable graphically, as Rayman Legends
already looked great on last-gen tech, but that extra power of the Xbox One does mean that the images are more crisp and defined, while the frame rate is as smooth as silk. The more noticeable improvement is that of the game’s loading times, which because of the extra power are reduced to almost nothing. Selecting a level or moving between areas is near instantaneous which means jumping in for a quick level before heading to school, work, or any other important non-gaming appointment is easily achievable.
When it comes to achievements, Rayman Legends
has a varied array of challenges to throw at you. Many of them are progression based and will be unlocked through natural play, while others will require you to do specific things on certain levels, the Splinter Ray
achievement which tasks you to complete the “Mansion of the Deep” without crossing any lasers or searchlights and Let him do the job
requires you to let the Luchador defeat 10 enemies for you during the chase sequence in “Lucha Libra Get Away”. The most time-consuming achievements on the list, Sooo rich!
and Truly awesome!
will take an enormous amount of time to unlock as you will need to collect a total of one million Lums, and win a massive number of cups by completing the entire game and taking part in the game’s challenge modes.
In a world increasingly filled with gritty shooters and even grittier protagonists, Rayman Legends
is a much-needed breath of fresh air. With its beautiful artwork, soundtrack and lighthearted nature it could easily be mistaken as being childish, yet it can be tricky to master and, though infuriating at times, provides extremely satisfying gameplay that is sure to make gamers of all types want to return again and again. Its only real downside, and a small one at that, is the lack of SmartGlass support for cooperative play, which would have elevated the title to even greater heights.
The reviewer spent around twelve hours playing through the Xbox One version of game's plethora of levels, challenges and wonderfully-inspired music levels. He unlocked 25 out of the 50 achievements. This copy was provided as a download courtesy of the publisher.