Before we get our hands dirty in this, our latest review, let’s just get something stated loud and clear. Rayman isn’t for everyone. Most animals, for example, will struggle with the dexterity and cognitive procedures required to successfully navigate even the game’s lovingly presented menus, never mind the levels themselves. Inanimate objects, plant life and crustaceans will all find a similar impenetrability getting to grips with Ubisoft’s latest platformer and frankly, our advice is that you give up and save your energy for photosynthesis. Or whatever. That in mind then, if you don’t count yourself among these groups, have got eyes and aren’t some sort of outright fun Nazi, then really you have no excuse to not raucously enjoy every last drop of Rayman Legends. Here’s why.
If you’re familiar with Rayman Origins, the series’ previous entry, you know what to expect from the off. That’s not to say there’s nothing new however, and in any case, changing the formula too drastically would have been largely unnecessary. Origins was a joy to play and those core mechanics all remain stubbornly in place. That said, Legends appears to be paced slightly slower than its predecessor, though it’s by such small amounts, that may well be something to do with the two years’ worth of alcohol-sodden brain cell steam rolling I’ve been at since the last game’s release.
And so, Legends, like Origins, is an indisputably adorable affair. Those beautiful hand drawn graphics make a triumphant return and immediately have you taking your most painfully yearned for loved one by the hand and proclaiming dramatically ‘my darling, of all the beauty I see in the world, you are second to this game.’ Probably. It’s pretty lovely, anyway. The full cast of characters, both playable and NPC, the enemies that belong to each individual world, and every aspect of the luscious and involved dynamic environments have been amorously crafted to elicit a genuine smile when you get a moment to look closely.
Of course, those moments are few and far between if you’re raring to get into the action. The more challenging sections see you commanding your tiny green partner in crime to affect the environment by ceremoniously pressing B. He’ll move platforms, cut ropes and tickle (yep) your enemies at your beckoned call. Which is nice. This becomes not entirely dissimilar to patting the dog, rubbing your belly, making cheese and bacon on toast and balancing an upside down fedora on your nose all at once. The trickier parts pit you against the clock (or against a scrolling wall of fiery death) and have you timing Rayman’s jumps, ducks and running whilst simultaneously making these environmental changes. It’s not uncommon to attempt a jump, move a platform in a blind panic, land on the wrong section and plummet to your untimely death, inadvertently spilling cheese everywhere and losing your fedora down the back of the sofa. Somehow.
The last level of the first world ‘Teensies in Trouble’ is a majesty of platforming fun. With an outrageously captured rendition of Ram Jam’s Black Betty playing in the background, you smash scenery and baddies in time with the cymbals and race through to the finale. It’s a congratulatory break for finishing the world’s previous levels; something that will leave you grinning from ear to ear, if you’re made of cardboard and aren’t already doing so, that is.
After you finish your first level, you’ll realize just how jam-packed with content Legends is, as the game immediately takes to voraciously loading you up as many trinkets as you can carry, all whizzing and making disorienting noises at once. With playable characters, daily currency dispensers and even levels from Origins to unlock, we really only scratched the surface in our playthrough. (Though that’s also because we’re not good enough to find all the BITS, of which there are many). There’re daily and weekly challenges if you’re still not full after all that, and of course there’s a multiplayer component too. There’s a fun Vs footy game that works surprisingly well but might not hold your attention much farther than the five minute mark, and of course, co-op. Though, disappointingly, there’s no online co-op, which’ll put a few of you off, no doubt.
Sadly, the game still only dishes out achievements to the ‘Primary Player’, which, for a game with its heart so desperately set on you playing with your friends on the couch next to you, is a shame. Legends would be the perfect platform for local co-op achievement hunting. That said, Origins had the same restrictions, so you might well be good and used to all this by now.
Ultimately, Legends is a fine title; delivering all its predecessor promised and followed through on, and piling on the reasons to keep coming back for more. We had an absolute riot with it, and if you’re after some wholesome, side-scrolling platform fun, we don’t understand why you’d think of going anywhere else.
Rayman Legends is out the 30th August for WiiU, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Playstation Vita!