Rayman Origins is a 2D platformer available for all major systems. It is a truly unique and wonderful game. The control are tight, the art is dazzling, and the music charming. It is unfortunate though that the game slightly outstays its welcome and would have been more enjoyable as an episodic downloadable rather than a full priced retail disc.
The goal in Rayman is to free Electoons from their cages by ether finding them, completing time trials, or collecting enough of the floating bugs called Lumes. Collecting these unlocks new levels and bosses and you need a minimum of 130 of the 256 in the game to finish it. The gameplay of Rayman Origins is hardly unique and will be very familiar with those who have played a platformer before. You begin the gain with ability to jump and sprint and gain further abilities, like being able to punch and glide, over the course of the game. The game doles out these upgrades over the course of the first half of the game giving you time to familiarize yourself with them before going on to the much more difficult second half. Rayman is at its best when the game is flowing and you are moving fast and with precision.
However as the game ramps up in difficulty and because of the large number of Electoons, which are often hidden throughout the level or require you to collect a large number of Lumes, that you need to progress, you are forced to severely reduce your pace. Occasionally frustrating level design can also complicate matters, and it can be easy to become frustrated. The game breaks up the platforming levels with occasional side-scrolling-shooting sequences. These are the best parts of the game and are a ton of fun, especially when you bring in your friends. The whole game can be completed ether on your own or with up to three other players. There is no difference between the characters you can play as, other than animations. When a player gets hit they turn into a bubble and float around the state until they are hit by a teammate. The game can get quite difficult in parts and bringing in a friend is a great way to make it a bit easier on yourself.
While not the graphical powerhouse like Battlefield 3 and Witcher 2, Rayman is one of the best looking games of the year. The art design is charming and beautiful to look at. It looks great in HD and on any sized television. Much of the flavor for the game comes from the nutty art style and the strange anthropomorphic objects that dominate the painted landscapes. The characters move across these stunning stages with an easy flow that looks wonderful, and the other animations are equally appealing. The music equals the graphics in quality, managing to have a highly enjoyable score, as well as adding musical notes to your actions and movements. There are very few games that have done either of these things as well as Rayman, and it manages to do both.
I had a lot of fun with Rayman at first. The charming atmosphere, goofy humor, and wonderful music kept me engrossed in the game. The first few worlds were wonderfully designed and navigating them was a joy. Yet as the game wore on I found myself not wanting to play anymore. I was fatigued, and the increasing difficulty only added to my frustration and I began to play the game only in short chunks. It feels like it would have benefited from being released episodically and spread out over a long period of time rather than all at once. It is unfortunate, because the game is very good and fun, just a little long.
Rayman is a hard game to know how I feel about. The individual elements are fantastic, and taking individually each level is as good as the last. That being said, it’s too easy to get fatigued by long gameplay sessions and it stops being as impressive as it was at first. The game is fantastic, and the art and music are beyond reproach, but the overall philosophy behind the games organization is just a little too off and it prevents it from being the landmark it could have been.