Rayman has come a long way. From his initial release, Rayman (1995) the armless hero has been run through the paces of game development for better and for worse. With Ubisoft’s Rayman: Origins essentially rebooting the series, it gives Rayman the shot in the non-existent arm the character needed after being overrun by a slew of Rabbids sequels. A platformer in the truest sense, Origins will take you and three friends through a beautiful, challenging world filled with charm that will surely make you a fan of Rayman if you were not one already.
The name Origins relates to this tale being an origin story for our lead character, Rayman. Through my playthrough of the 60 levels and the meanderings of incomprehensible dialog scattered throughout the game I can safely say that the story is of little consequence. All you have to know is that some nymphs have been captured by some evil-doers, and it is up to you to save them. Along the way you will do some jumping, exploring, and collecting Electoons (the in-game collectible) as well as defeat any monsters that may get in your way. Thankfully, the artistic styling and gameplay are, and always have been the strong points of a Rayman game. This latest installment holds true to this habit as the story takes a back seat to the platforming genius that Ubisoft has crafted within Origins.
Take a deep breath and dive in.
I mentioned that the game was challenging, but it does not drop you into the deep end and expect you to swim. Ubisoft took an intelligent approach to introducing new abilities to the player, as each new world in the first portion of the game focuses on using a specific ability. You begin with a simple gliding ability and gradually gain a handful of skills that will test your platforming prowess. Moving towards the later stages, the player is expected to combine the learned abilities in a coherent manner and this is where the real challenge sets in. At first glance, Origins may appear to be 'casual friendly’, but don't let the art style fool you. Rayman is no cake walk and will put the most seasoned gamer through its paces. To extend this challenge and for those that are not satisfied with simply finishing the level, you will need to utilise your plethora of abilities to grab all the Electoons hidden throughout each level. It is not a simple task and will require that you use an immense amount of trial and error in order to find the deepest secrets and collectibles.
Another thing that impressed me in Rayman: Origins was the pacing and the variety of level design. Before an environment or mechanic became tedious, you were thrown a curveball. In one level I would be chasing down a runaway treasure chest, reacting only on instinct and reflex and the next level I was thrown on the back of a mosquito blasting my way through a side scrolling shooter. These transitions are by no means jolting and serve as an usher to witness how much content the game actually has. Origins boasts over 60 levels, many of which are hidden until you find a secret door, key, or collect a certain amount of Electoons.