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Rayman Legends Review

Posted by Stevie McDonald On Tuesday 1 October 2013Comments Off

Available on 360, PS3, WU, PC and PSV l Published by Ubisoft l Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier l Classified G l Supports 1-4 players

REVIEW IN BRIEF > A strikingly beautiful and all-round charming game, Rayman Legends is a fantastic blend of traditional sidescrolling elements and inventive new ideas. Though the actual gameplay mechanics are limited, this allows for a greater focus on the levels themselves and the myriad ways in which these mechanics can be used to navigate them. Each level has its own unique design, bringing something new to the table, and it’s up to you to hone your skills until you’ve found the perfect dance steps through each new challenge.

REVIEW IN FULL > I’ve never really been a huge fan of 2D platformers. Adventure games are more my cup of tea and, with a few notable exceptions, I find most sidescrollers far too frustrating: jump here, run there, make a mistake, start again. Having said that, Rayman Legends is one of the most engaging, joyful and just plain fun games I have played in a long time. And this is largely due to the inventive ways the game builds upon the tried and true mechanics of the genre.

The game begins with a brief cutscene explaining what has happened in the one hundred years since Rayman Origins. Rayman and his friends have all fallen into a deep sleep, unaware of the danger their world is in. The Bubble Dreamer’s nightmares have been growing in strength and number, as has the villainous Magician, who not only managed to survive the events at the end of Origins, but has multiplied into five separate beings known as the Dark Teensies. Slowly but surely, they are taking over everything, and it’s up to our favourite limbless hero to restore order, with the help of his pals.

Legends is gorgeous, to put it simply, with almost every level (or painting, as they are appropriately called) a riot of colour and detail.

Two things are immediately apparent: the art and music. Legends is gorgeous, to put it simply, with almost every level (or painting, as they are appropriately called) a riot of colour and detail. Each world has its own clear palette and theme and these add an element of life and depth that is sometimes difficult to achieve in a 2D game.

The only thing lovelier than the way the game looks is the way it sounds. Legends features a fantastic variety of music that blends beautifully with the art and, most importantly, with the gameplay itself. Where running and jumping through a sidescroller can border on tedious for me, in this game it feels like an intricate dance that becomes more and more fun as I learn the steps. Each level is clearly designed with an exact line, or dance, in mind. This means that whenever I find the perfect run, the ease with which I collect points, take out enemies and find secrets feels less like a too-easy challenge and more like a nod of approval at getting the steps spot on.

This relationship between music and gameplay is never more apparent than in the musical levels, my personal favourites and mostly unique to Legends. In these, I run through the level completely in time with the music, often an instrumental version of a song I am already familiar with. Every jump and spin is timed to the beat, making entire levels into literal, rather than metaphorical, dances.

This isn’t the only way in which the game makes itself stand out. While the levels are largely linear, as is usually the case with sidescrollers, Legends is constantly reinventing itself and throwing new elements into the mix to keep things fresh: new landscapes, different enemies, reversed gravity and areas requiring the help of my sidekick (or dance partner!) Murfy are just some of the challenges.

On top of all this, Legends has another inventive card up its sleeve: every so often a level I have already completed is ‘invaded’, creating a separate painting that is basically a remix of the original. In these, specific elements have been adapted and condensed into a short and swift version of the parent level, requiring a speed run that requires go after go in an attempt to hit that critical time.

All of the regular levels can be played cooperatively at any time with up to four players.

In other games, dying hundreds of times over is usually the result of trying to figure out exactly what I have to do. In Legends, everything feels intuitive and dying repeatedly is simply the side result of getting the moves just right. Difficulty levels increase at the same pace as my adeptness for the controls, so I never feel the game is to blame.

Even with the main story behind me, there is still a world of content to amuse myself with. Aside from the obvious things, like getting that gold trophy that managed to elude me or trying to improve on speed run times, there is another world to be unlocked once enough Teensies have been saved, which will fully defeat the invading nightmares. There’s also an entire gallery of paintings from Rayman Origins available to play, though these don’t quite stack up in comparison to the masterpieces that are the Legends levels.

Lastly, there are two multiplayer options. All of the regular levels can be played cooperatively at any time with up to four players. Online Daily and Weekly Challenges are also available. These modes pit me against other players on the worldwide leaderboard and consist of quick activities like collecting points or infinite run levels. Basically, Rayman Legends is a stunning, highly-polished game that’s bursting at the seams with content.

While it may occasionally frustrate, it has more than enough variety and personality to outweigh this one tiny flaw.

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