STAFF REVIEW of Rayman Legends (Xbox One)

Thursday, February 27, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Rayman Legends Box art Rayman Origins back in 2011 caught me by surprise. I knew it was a platformer, but I didn’t realize how good it was actually going to be with its tight controls, fun level design, and fantastic art style. Being a 2D sidescrolling platformer, it overachieved and easily turned into one of my favorite platformers in recent memory. The game then received a sequel titled Rayman Legends on Xbox 360 last year and was fantastic and improved on many mechanics. Here we are a few months later and now have the Xbox One version finally for those of us that have the newer system. It should be noted, this is exactly the same release that was on 360 (albeit with a special Far Cry 3 Vaas skin for Rayman and Globox) without any new or major mechanics or improvements. That’s not a bad thing, as even the 360 version looked fantastic and ran smooth, but it doesn’t seem like there’s been any ‘above and beyond’ work done for the Xbox One release.

Rayman Legends is a huge game and includes more than a hundred levels. Granted, a chunk of these levels are unlocked remasters from Rayman Origins, but it’s still more content none the less. The Legends levels are all new and unique where the Origin levels are essentially remixed versions of the levels you’ve played previously in the last game, so even the players that mastered Origins has new content to revisit. Even when you manage to complete all of the Legends and Origins levels there are even more objectives to be completed and of course, replaying previous levels to get a higher score of Lums (essentially coins, but cute and with faces and arms) to raise up the leaderboards.

While Rayman Legends does have a story to it, it’s a simple tale that revolves Rayman’s world being invaded by nightmares, though this won’t matter once you get a few levels in as it’s not the story that pushes you forward, it’s the fun and inviting gameplay while collecting the most Lums you can to unlock new content. The game understands that you won’t be playing it for a shoehorned story and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Simply put, the game is all about the fantastic gameplay and platforming elements, and that’s plenty enough to keep you engaged and continue playing.

As you progress through the game, each level gets a slight bit more challenging than the last. Have it be known though, that there are some random spikes in difficulty out of the blue that will have you restarting many times just to get it right, but never infuriating enough that you’ll want to break your controller like some other games. Your goal in each level is to not only reach the end of the stage, but to collect as many Lums as you can, these cute floating yellow and purpose orbs and also saving captured Teensies. Each level has a certain amount of Teensies within and the more you save, the quicker the next set of levels will unlock, each with their own number of Teensies requirement. So if you simply try and get through the levels as fast as possible, you may have to replay some of the previous levels to get more Teensies to unlock the next stages. You’ll need to replay a stage a few times if you want to find that perfect strategy of collecting all of the Teensies and as many Lums, as well as the many secrets, as possible for the best scores and brag about it on the leaderboards. Sicne it’s never mandated that you need to save a certain amount of Teensies, sometimes you’ll want to challenge yourself and collect all of them in a stage to simply see if you can do it rather than being told you have to.

Rayman and Globox are still the main characters in the game, but you can choose to play as one of Rayman’s many friends, all of which have the same inherent base of skills but with different attack and floating animations, so it’s more of an aesthetic choice more than anything else. Legends does introduce a new female lead character though, a barbarian named Barbara. Again, it’s simply an aesthetic skin but some might choose to play as her for whatever reason.

Where Origins used an overworld map to show progression in the game, Legends instead uses a series of art galleries. The levels that are unlocked will show these beautiful artworks and any that are yet to be unlocked will have a sheet and lock over them with the number of saved Teensies needed to unlock said stage. One world is comprised of multiple paintings (stages), and each stage is then broken into smaller segments as you progress through. These essentially act as the checkpoint system and you’re never thrown back too far when you mistime your jump or attack. Levels flow very well and there is very little ‘stop and go’ as you’re almost always constantly moving forwards. All of the worlds feel very different and some focus on different mechanics than others (The only world I didn’t enjoy was the water one). Rayman Legends level design keeps things fresh, not only by constantly going into new stages, but the variety of levels change often as well and keep things from becoming stale. Most levels will have you platforming normally, but there are other stages where you be in a chase sequence (being chased and also chasing), amazing musical boss stages, and there are even levels where you’ll be transformed into a duck, simply because. The variety of levels keep things fun and you never know what to expect going into a new stage.

Rayman’s friend Murphy plays a larger role in Legends compared to what he did in Origins and he will help and assist you in certain and specific situations. There are certain sections in some stages that Rayman simply won’t be able to do himself, and this is where Murphy’s assistance comes in. He can cut ropes, move platforms, distract enemies by tickling them (opening them to your attack), pull switches, and more. This is simply done with the ‘B’ button and while it’s simple most of the time, you’ll need to sometimes think about two things at once, as you’ll still be controlling Rayman and moving forward, looking ahead to what Murphy is going to have to do to help you.

Easily the highlight of Rayman Legends is the amazing set pieces of the boss stages and the pseudo music stages as well. Boss fights break down to memorization of their attacks so you can counter attack, but they are very fun and can be quite challenging (even the first boss will take you many restarts). After you complete the boss stage, the last level you play in a world are the amazing well done music levels, which feel like a reward themselves. These levels have you running away from a wall of fire or something else, but to the beat of a song. Every time you jump or attack, it’s meant to purposely fit in with the song, and to be honest, hearing ‘Black Betty’ played with singing ogres and your timed jumps is something that absolutely needs to be played.

Not only does the segmented stage design help you with feeling like your constantly progressing, but you’re almost always unlocking something along the way as well which keeps your motivation to continue playing “just one more stage”. Collect a certain amount of Lums in a stage and you’ll learn a Lucky Ticket which can be scratched to reveal whatever your bonus prize is (every ticket is a winner). Sometimes you’ll unlock new Origin stages, Lums, or even other bonuses. It’s fun enough that you’ll want to try and collect as many Lums as possible in each stage. The more Teensies you collect per stages also unlocks new stages quicker, so you’re always wanting to strive towards being masterful at each stage.

Legends also includes a challenge mode that I honestly thought I would try once and be done with it, but that wasn’t the case at all. In this mode you can test your skills against the community in new challenges that appear daily and weekly. Once you complete the objective given, usually collecting a certain amount of Lums in the shortest time possible, or surviving the stage as long as possible, it will show how you ranked against everyone else that’s also completed the challenge. It also then ranks you and shows how you’ve done in your country and so on. It shows you the next few people that are slightly ahead of you, so that you’re constantly feeling “I can beat these guys”. If you perform well enough, you can move up the rankings to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. I tend to check these challenges every day, and while it comes down to stage memorization, it still makes it quite challenging as you can see ghosts of other players that are within your skill level.

Rayman Legends does two things very well. The first is that you’re constantly having fun, with the second being that it will guarantee to put a smile on your face. Legends has so much charm that it’s almost impossible to not be impressed by its audio and visuals and all of the hand drawn art. The game is hilarious if you look for the small things (the ogre that gives a thumbs up as it falls into the pit of lava actually made me laugh aloud) and it’s always satisfying to see the evil wizard being flung to the moon and being prodded by its inhabitants along to a catchy tune. The artwork is genuinely amazing and so colorful that even my young daughter enjoyed watching the game due to its bright colors and great musical stages.

While it’s one of the more prettier games I’ve seen in a while in an artistic sense, it’s also one of the best platformers I’ve played in quite some time. With a huge replay value, a ton of levels to play and unlock, precision controls, daily and weekly challenges, there’s always a reason to come back and enjoy more time with Rayman and his friends. While an online co-op would have been welcomed, it’s a great couch co-op game for almost all skill levels. While the Xbox One version looks visually amazing, so did the Xbox 360 version, and there’s honestly little difference here graphically. That being said, if you’ve not had the chance to experience Rayman Legends on the previous generation of consoles, make you sure you pick it up on Xbox One as it’s a worthy purchase and will guarantee to make you smile.

Overall: 9.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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