Rayman Legends Review

Rayman, Globox and friends have been snoozing for a century while the Bubble Dreamer’s nightmares grow worse and the gloriously silly worlds he dreams into existence are populated with more and more insidious evil-doers.

Now Rayman and friends must be awoken from their slumber to rid the world of its blight and restore the carefree happiness. Teensies must be rescued, Lums must be collected and evil must be firmly punched, kicked and bounced upon. Luckily, Murfy the fairy makes a return to assist you through the areas by cutting ropes, activating mechanisms, poking monsters in the eye or tickling giant club-wielding enemies so you can throw a disjointed fist in their direction unhindered.

Hold on a minute. Tickling?

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Oh yes, Rayman Legends is still as chock-full of happy lunacy as its predecessor was. It’s a galloping, giggling run through an over-saturated world of carefree joy. It’s a gloriously painted, parallax-scrolling potter around a world of unfettered, gleeful exuberance. It’s not even close to approaching what we might consider normal but it simply doesn’t care. It’s the bounding dog chasing its tail in the park. It’s the child on the playground swings that laughs uncontrollably with each weightless oscillation. Rayman Legends is complete, unselfconscious fun.

It’s action packed, too. Legends throws collectables at you at a break-neck pace so that there’s always something unlocking. Some new thing to go and look at, a new painting to jump into and explore the worlds beyond or a new creature, hero or classic “Back to Origins” level to play through.

You can unlock and play as a number of legends, as well as Rayman, Globox and the Teensies. You can play with up to four people. You can set times in tightly designed showpiece levels that push the potentially repetitive platforming mechanics in entirely different directions. Rayman Legends is never boring, always bristling with creativity, imagination and a spirit of exploration that surpasses even its predecessor.

The real star of this show isn’t Rayman. It isn’t even the gorgeously painted background art or the wonderfully immersive parallax scrolling. The real genius of Rayman Legends is the level design. Everything is so tightly created that it works without requiring – or at times even allowing – consideration. The level design works perfectly with you to allow that abandonment of thought that leads simply to pure enjoyment because it all works so naturally. Even many of the hidden paths seem to suggest themselves just as you pass them – encouraging a second run at a level when you will know just the right moment to jump so that you don’t miss it a second time.

It’s not a particularly difficult game and the checkpointing is only very rarely frustrating but that’s not really the point. You’re not supposed to struggle through this, you’re supposed to run alongside it. Even the levels specifically created to act as little speed runs that you can muscle-memory your way through and post your time to a leaderboard don’t needlessly frustrate or obstruct you, they encourage you to streamline and learn timings. Everything is about positivity, improving your core techniques rather than simply circumventing an obstacle.

[drop2]There’s plenty of content here too, with six worlds each consisting of roughly half a dozen levels, plus a couple of levels to unlock a new hero to play as and a musically-timed level to tear through. There are daily challenges sent through the network too – this game mode is freely available on Wii U pre-launch, and should keep you coming back day after day, collecting Lums and freeing up Teensies – you’ll need a massive 400 to unlock the most costly Living Dead Party world.

There’s even a completely off-topic local multiplayer mini-game called Kung Foot in which you have to punch and kick a football into your opponent’s goal. It’s all played on a single screen and fantastically captures that couch-bound multiplayer feeling by presenting something that’s incredibly simple and yet decided by such narrow margins that you’ll always be alternating between joyous triumphalism and resentful frustration.

What’s Good:

  • Level design is exceptional.
  • Background art and parallax scrolling is gorgeous.
  • Lots to see and do, plenty of packed-in longevity.
  • Joyfully exuberant mood.

What’s Bad:

  • Very occasionally frustrating checkpoints.
  • Occasional sections that ramp up difficulty a little sharply.

Rayman Legends doesn’t need a thousand words of explanation and assessment. It’s not a weighty, narrative driven game that will make you postulate meanings or attribute deep allegorical intentions. This is a game about not thinking, it’s a game about letting go and just enjoying the colours and sounds and swirling, bouncing happiness that’s taking up your screen. You’ll have to practice elements, you’ll need to learn locations of hidden areas and timings of jump sequences to progress. But you’ll certainly never be bored.

Score: 9/10

Reviewed from Xbox 360 review code and the freely available Wii U Daily Challenge mode.

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17 Comments

  1. Great review, the demo was gorgeous and fun and i will definitely be picking this up!

  2. Looking forward to picking it up on Vita. Origins stole a lot of my time when I got it so I expect this to be no exception.

  3. Sweet, I played the daily challenges and that led me to a quick pre-order for Wii U. I love a good platformer.

  4. Oh, so close to the 10/10 mark!
    Pre-ordered this a while ago, Origins was my first Vita game and without a doubt my favourite platformer in years.

    • dude have you tried the puppeteer demo?
      I’m not a big fan of platform gaming but puppeteer was quite charming!

      • I did, pre-ordered it as well!
        How that game is launching below 30£ is something I will not question though, my wallet sighed with relief :)

      • Actually, both at about 25 (vita version for Rayman).
        I do expect more of a challenge from Rayman though, there ions had some trials that were insane.

  5. Played the rayman that was free on vita through ps+ and really didn’t like it. I think I’ve grown out of platform games, regardless of production values and qualities I’m just not going to enjoy them.
    Hope lots of you guys get lots of fun out of this but it just ain’t for me!

    • I grew out of platform games many years ago but LittleBigPlanet won me over although it’s so not a “platformer” in many ways. However, this sounds so damned fun, it’s hard not to give it a go. Fully prepared to go “meh” just in case but must try it some time.

      Interesting to see how us getting older changes the games we used to enjoy. For example, beat ’em ups are dead to me in every way.

  6. Rayman origins was the first ever rayman I played, never heard of the game till then, love it that much I own both ps versions and will own both again as me & my wife play together.

    She was happy with the demo the fact that there is a girl

  7. Loved rayman origins and will be getting this one on ps3 asap. :)

  8. I’ve read this about fifteen times and I’m really excited!

    Wii U version seems as though it’s the best version. Good, good.

  9. The visuals do look amazing. There are just too many games im still playing and will be buying soon, without the inclusion of the PS4 that i will just wait until this drops in price a bit to give it a whirl, if my back catalogue ever reduces.

  10. Great review, a fine perplexity of wordsmithery that even Stephen Fry might drool over! :P
    Looking forward to this pre-ordered game, looks like it could even excel the brilliant Origins which would be no mean feat.

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