Rayman is back and like film makers wanting more from their heroes, Rayman has his own origin story in this latest title Rayman: Origins (developed and published by Ubisoft). “Yay” I hear you cry? Well I wouldn’t celebrate just yet. I wouldn’t blame if you didn’t know this is an Origin story as the story is never really explained. The start of the game has Rayman and friends sleeping under a tree which manages to annoy a granny from the Land of the Livid Dead who shakes up Rayman’s world by sending up bad guys. In typical Rayman fashion it is up to Rayman to bring life back to normal. This is as far as the story goes for Rayman: Origins. After the opening scene, I really had no idea what was happening story wise. I was just doing missions in order, freeing Electoons and Nymphs who kindly gave me power ups for the trouble. I even had to look up what the story actually was for this game so I didn’t make any mistakes for this review. It’s almost a joke calling this game Rayman: Origins as it has no storytelling and it’s more Rayman: Reboot/ Rayman: Another Outing than an origin story.
Despite its untruthful choice in title, it still retains the charm and feel of a Rayman game with its varying environments and beautiful art style. This game looks good and the hand drawn style really works for Rayman. The levels are full of small but significant detail and you really feel the world is more than just the 2D plane you play on. This world is perfectly integrated with a charming and addictive soundtrack that really gets you in the mood to play a simple side-scrolling platformer. At times I felt myself totally engrossed by Rayman: Origins which, for the most part, is down to the soundtrack.
I am glad the soundtrack and visuals sucked me into the game because Rayman: Origins offers nothing really new or exciting to the genre of side-scrolling platformers. This is not entirely a bad thing but the game reeks of a safe option. This doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun and the tight/responsive controls makes the game a lot easier to play when the level’s intensity escalate quickly (cue Ron Burgundy). This Vita version has very limited touchscreen functionality with you only using it for popping coin bubbles. In way this makes certain levels easier to achieve the high score but in the more hectic levels the touch screen is counter intuitive with me almost dangerously flinging the Vita out of my hands or bashing the Vita’s screen because speed is everything. Luckily flying/shooting sections gave my Vita’s screen a break and also helped in avoiding gameplay fatigue.
It has been a while since old, traditional forms of replay value are done correctly and Rayman: Origins really nails this aspect. With relics, ghost mode, hidden Electoons in need of freeing, highscore bonuses, time trophies and the infinitely fun yet frustrating runaway treasure boxes (which is more about developing muscle memory with multiple retries than skill) keeps you coming back to this game.
To me this game is just one of those things you love and hate at the same time. I adore the art direction and how it is complimented with a superb soundtrack which still keeps this reboot, at its heart, a Rayman game. However my biggest gripe with this game is the half assed attempt at a story and more importantly the lack of risk the developers took with this game. It’s just has the feel of a highly polished version of a 1995 Rayman.
Sure the philosophy is “if it ain’t broke don't fix it” but that has limited this game to just being good and not great.