Few know this, but I have a soft spot for Rayman his wacky slapstick cartoon style wasn’t anything particularly standout back in the day (just take a look at his competition) but Rayman I felt was one of the few (if not the only) character that used that to his advantage. He fully embraced his cartoon styling in the best fashion possible making for a fun, visually pleasing experience. However despite his well received 3D transition (Rayman 2: The Great Escape) I’ve felt that he hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as he should, especially when his games usually take a backseat to the side characters (The Rabbids). So imagine the joy I felt when I heard that not only was Rayman having a new game without his Rabbits, but a side scrolling adventure similar to his first game and my personal favorite from him. Between all of the blockbuster titles coming out left and right this holiday season I can’t help but sit down and have a blast with Rayman’s latest title.
Speaking of the title it’s a tad deceiving, Origins is not an origin story or a prequel. While the gameplay harkens back to the original title, the story is a direct sequel to Hoodlum Havoc. Not that it matters or has a large presence, the story (for the better) is simplistic. Rayman and his friends were asleep, and the obnoxious snoring of our heroes pisses off an evil old lady and off our story goes. The slapstick comedy is back and I promise you’ll get a few laughs out of the experience. It’s hard to talk about the game without mentioning how beautiful this game looks in motion, the frame rate is smooth giving a clean wonderful art style to boot. The levels are designed wonderfully with plenty of variety in terms of looks and design to keep you occupied, plus with so many extras you’ll be coming back far after you’ve beat the game. One thing that deserves particular praise is that the game expertly juggles fun and challenge, this game isn’t Super Meat Boy-level difficulty but it isn’t Kirby’s Epic Yarn either it sits in a very comfortable middle ground of challenge yet keeping things fun. There isn’t much voice acting in the game besides the occasional yell or gasp, however that doesn’t mean sound design has been left in the dust. The music here is utterly fantastic and no matter what you’re doing it manages to fit in quite perfectly.
The game employs a 4 person co-op feature however with the character sprites being so small and so much chaos usually happening on screen it’s usually very easy to lose track of your character. Some will prefer to go solo or just go with 1 buddy which is where the game usually where it works the best. However one particular criticism is that there is no online feature, no hooking up with buddies who also have the game you just have to find a way to get them to your house. I promise it’ll be worth it when you and your buddy stop in the middle of a level just to slap each other.
When it comes down to this game I can’t really find that much fault with it. It seems to have taken every lesson from platformers new and old and made the best possible game. The game looks great without having to use the most top notch graphics, the sound is wonderful without having to use the best voice actors in the business, and the gameplay is simply just pure fun. While there are games out there that will offer a much more deep experience, in the fun department they have quite the competitor as Rayman Origins just might take the cake.