No need for long introductory paragraphs, I’ll get right to the point. Colorful, joyful, and all around fun – Rayman Legends is one of the best, if not the best, platforming games I have played in a long, long, time. This isn’t about jumping on a bandwagon or continuing the hype train, Rayman Legends is just that good. After the critical acclaim of 2011’s Rayman Origins, Ubisoft went back to the limbless hero for another round of 2D platform gaming, and boy am I glad they did.
Rayman Legends opens the game with a brief, beautifully animated cutscene describing the events that set up the action soon to take place in the game. After Rayman and his buddies have been slumbering for 100 years (yes 100 years), tons of enemies and nightmares have spread across the world putting The Glade of Dreams in trouble again. So now, Rayman and his friends must wake up and take care of business, which is no small task. These new enemies are even bigger and badder than before. After that brief intro, we’re dropped right into the game on our quest to save the good Teensies and the rest of the worlds from these evil fiends.
Where do I even start? Rayman Legends has so much content it might make your head spin a little – so I’ll try take this step by step. The game is divided into several worlds which have several levels, each depicted by paintings. You’re thrown right into main game’s first level of the first world right after the opening cutscene. Like its predecessors, Rayman Legends features 2D platforming but this time with some 3D hybrid elements including some enemies and scenery changes and depth. Throughout the levels, you’ll be confronted with collectibles, friends to save, obstacles to overcome, enemies to defeat, and of course, lots and lots of challenging platforming. Platforming is king in this game and I can’t say that I have seen a better set of creatively designed levels. With such a variety of exciting worlds, there’s no room for boredom – which can happen in many platformers.
I can’t get over the level design in this game; It truly deserves some recognition. From levels that make you race against the clock, crumbling environments, attacking enemies, to levels that challenge your problem solving skills and dexterity, Rayman Legends features some of the most thrilling and genius platforming design gaming has seen in ages. One of my favorite worlds happens to be “20,000 Lums Under The Sea” which takes you under the water and in industrial settings. In this world, you not only have to fight enemies, but there are also some basic puzzles to solve – switching on and off electricity, avoiding security sensors, and walking upside down and backwards which makes you have to consciously flip the way you control the game in your mind.
Each world has bosses and musical levels which provide some of the most entertaining and exciting gameplay in the games. Boss levels are amazing, to say the least. Near the end of each world, after unlocking each stage, a boss level is unlocked. These feature various bosses to run from and fight against all while still incorporating platforming to make a hybrid kind of action-platformer. These boss battles aren’t for the faint of heart either. They can be really tough. You’ll face up against giant luchadores, dragons, mechanical monsters, fire-breathers, laser shooters, and much more. In my opinion, even better than the boss levels? The musical levels. Mixing fast action platforming, tied to some classic and popular tunes, these musical levels are entertaining to the max. I only wish there were more. Who am I kidding? There are still over 100 other levels to play in this game anyway. Still, it would be nice to see some more of these levels Ubisoft. Please?
The controls in the game are easy to learn with basic attack, jump, and movement controls. While the controls may be easy to learn, which is a plus for kids and casual gamers, the game still throws some seriously challenging gameplay there to make even the most seasoned gamer fail 1 or 600 times. Yeah, you don’t want to know how many times I failed throughout the game. I would rather keep my pride intact for now. The platforming mechanics are spot on with great physics that feel natural to play with – not too heavy, not too floaty. While the fundamental gameplay is the same across platforms, there are some variations.
The Wii U and PlayStation Vita both have touch screen controls which allow for a little more variety in your experience while playing the game. At certain points on many levels, your fairy-like guide Murfy will enter. If you’re playing on the Wii U or Vita, you take direct control of Murfy, clearing obstacles, cutting ropes, and guiding the hero (now controlled by AI or friend if playing co-op) using the touch screen. I found this part of the game a little frustrating when being played alone on the Wii U and Vita because many times, the AI will not go to areas that you would like them to go, which means frequent restarts, especially if you’re a collector and perfectionist like I am. Overall, I would say the whole game, especially levels with Murfy, are better when played with a real co-op partner instead of relying on the AI. On the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC versions of the game, Murfy is controlled in much more simple means. He will automatically find obstacles that need to be removed and you simply give the command to cut the rope, move the platform, etc. by pressing a single button. Playing on the PS3, 360, and PC is a lot easier if you are playing alone versus the Wii U or Vita versions of the game. However, if you want the optimal experience, Wii U with friends is how to go.
On the Wii U, you can play with up to three other people in the same room (or four on Murphy levels). The individual with the gamepad acts can switch between a regular hero and Murfy while the others take the role of the many different available heroes in the game. The Wii U provides the maximum amount of gameplay fun with friends and the most varied gameplay experience. While the Vita does feature similar gameplay, you are limited to only two people who can play together and each must have their own Vita with a copy of the game. The PS3, Xbox 360, and PC versions allow regular four-player co-op. Despite the slight variations of gameplay across platforms, you’re still bound to enjoy the game alone or with friends no matter what system you’re playing on. One should note though, that while the Vita and Wii U versions feature special Murfy’s Challenges, the Vita does not include the Invasion levels which are essentially race against the clock levels unlocked after completion of each main level.
Graphically, Rayman Legends is a feast for the eyes. Like Rayman Origins before, Legends brings some beautifully drawn and animated scenery with vibrant colors, smooth framerates, and spectacular designs. I don’t think I can find a single complaint here. Rayman also shines in the sound department. With one of the best soundtracks in games this year, Rayman Legends is enjoyable to listen to from the menu screen, to each level.
There’s still so much to do in Rayman Legends. Even beyond the completion of the main worlds, Ubisoft has jammed this game full of weekly and daily challenges, leaderboards, special versus modes (Kung Foot), collectibles, and even remastered Rayman Origins levels. That’s right, you can play Rayman Origins, in Rayman Legends. The difference is, now these levels are made to fit the play style of Legends, which I found to be just great. So it’s like you’re playing something completely new either way. The replay factor in this game is through the roof. I have spent hours upon hours in the game and still could play for dozens of hours more.
Rayman Legends is platforming at its best – almost perfection. It’s a fun, feel-good game that shines from start to finish and is such a delight to play. From the level design, controls, music, gameplay, characters and more, this game provides everything you want and need in a platformer. Very rarely does a game have me grasping for the right words to describe it; The words to really help convey my message and do the title justice. I think the one thing we can come away from this review understanding is this: If you like platformers, you need to get this game. If you like action games, you need to get this game. If you like playing with friends, you need to get this game. If you have a PC, Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation 3, or Vita, you need to get this game. No matter what, you need to get this game.
In an industry dominated by the “big blockbuster” titles with household names, it’s so refreshing to find great games that everyone can enjoy from casual to hardcore gamers, kids and adults. Rayman Legends is one of those all around games that can be enjoyed by almost anyone – unless you’re the spawn of the devil. Legends deserves the spotlight for a long time and I really hope you go out and support Ubisoft, support the devs, and support the industry by getting this game. It’s more than worth it.
[Note: Review based on free retail versions of Rayman Legends provided for review by Ubisoft]