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Rayman Origins Review

Review; Feb. 6, 2012; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
Forget the Rabbids. Rayman is back.

Like a splash of cold water on a hot summer day, Rayman Origins is a blast from the platforming past that arrives with such ferocity and such a high level of quality that it shouts with colorful graphics, crisp animation and ingenious level design: “We're not dead! The platformer still exists, and it's just as fun as you remember!”

Rayman Origins

Origins is a return to form, a throwback for our limbless hero and his friends, giving him 2-D worlds to explore. This time, there aren't Rabbids, no wraggle control, and no additional gimmicks -- just 60 levels of pure platforming, item-collecting, boss-battling goodness. The “Origins” in the title could not have been more appropriate.

A platformer lives and dies by its level design, and Rayman Origins has some of the most inventive and well-designed levels seen in a modern platformer. Each world comes with a different theme that borders from fantastical and lush to bizarre and abstract. In some levels, you'll traverse dense jungles, jumping from treetop to treetop, and in other levels, you'll traverse a desert full of ... didgeridoos. It is an entirely surreal experience to jump around blowing dunes and giant didgeridoos jutting out from the sand as their deep baritone echos in the background. If there is one thing this game has, it's charm in its aesthetics and responsiveness in its controls.

The charm not only comes from just how bizarre the game gets in its environments, but through its characters as well. Rayman is far from a “normal” videogame character, but he appears downright vanilla compared to his friends and the enemies you'll encounter. (Crazed piranhas, jungle explorers, and white blob-shaped monks are some of the most common ones.) Visually, it's far from the normal platformers we've grown accustomed to. To play Origins is to accept the lunacy and revel in its surrealness. It's pure slapstick, an Earthworm Jim and Ren and Stimpy lovechild in playable format. If that last sentence makes you the least bit giddy, this game was made for you.

Rayman Origins Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

Visuals and design only go so far in platformers if their controls are awful, something that Origins succeeds in avoiding. Not only are the game's controls extremely smooth and responsive, but they also retain their responsiveness and playability even when you're learning new abilities and changing how you play through a level on the fly. Your basic controls: moving, running, flying, jumping, and punching are the bread and butter you'll refer back to throughout the game as you progress and learn new controls. Soon you'll be shrinking yourself down to fit in small spaces, swimming through the ocean at an alarming speed, and running up walls like some limbless Spider-Man ... all while having absolute control over your characters and their abilities. The only excuse you'll have for failing is your own lack of abilities.

Rayman Origins comes with a slew of unlockables and secrets. Simply completing a level is not enough. Hidden in each level are a variety of collectables: coins, little characters called electoons, and later on, treasure chests. Upon completion of a level, you are judged on not only completing the level, but how many items you collect and how fast you finished. Given the gradual increase in difficulty and the many hidden nooks and crannies in each level, you'll be making numerous trips back through stages long after you've completed the game. All of these trinkets are not without value, as each one you collect earns you more medals, which in turn earn you more electoons, which in turn allows you to unlock even more levels and characters. It may put you through the wringer trying to gather every last collectable, but your efforts are always appropriately awarded.

If I had to find one flaw with the game, it would have to come from the co-op mode. It's not that it's bad -- far from it. The co-op feature allows up to three other players to join in with their own characters and progress through the levels with you. It's a ton of fun and makes an already fun single-player experience a riotous multiplayer one. The flaw comes from the lack of online co-op. This type of game is screaming for online co-op but only features local. Admittedly, it's not a huge flaw, but a small nitpick in an otherwise stellar title.

Rayman Origins Screenshots

Rayman Origins is a breath of fresh air and a sigh of relief for fans of platformers. It's comforting to know that in an age when the FPS is king and single player is becoming less common, a decent-length and well-crafted game -- in a genre from an age past -- is as excellent, good looking, and smooth playing as Origins. Like Dark Souls, it's a perfect marriage of old-school game design paired with modern technology. It's quirky, fun, and beautiful. It's a must-play.

*Editor's Note: This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version.


Review Score

Everyone 10+

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

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