Rayman: Origins is a nostalgic trip down memory to many gamer’s cherished 16-bit youth; a time where Super Mario and Sonic were king. Origins is special, rare and precious – full of vibrant worlds, which looks to recapture the innocence of gaming. Rayman Origins sits at a polar opposite to the war torn landscapes and dystopian apocalypses that many games companies are trying to force upon an already saturated consumer.
The current generation will of course be remembered for the Call Of Duty’s and Battlefield’s of this generation, but it will also be remembered for the rebirth of long forgotten 2D generation. If you’ve explored Xbox Live or the Playstation Store recently it’s clear that 2D is making a comeback. Well, now it’s time for an old favourite Rayman to return and instead of being a downloadable affair – Ubisoft – have decided to make Rayman: Origins a full physical retail game, a brave move.
The first thing that you will notice is Rayman: Origins is it is bite the back of your hand beautiful, this is thanks to, in part, the current crop of high-def consoles which means Michel Ancel can finally realise his whimsical vision. Origins is easily one the most an eye-catching, visual indulgences of 2011. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that you could pause the game any point take a picture of it and then hang it on your wall – it’s that stunning. Michel Ancel and his team have created something so stunning in both style and vision that Pixar, and the like, would be happy to put their names to it. It’s jam-packed full of exquisite colours, goofy characters and never deviates from Ancel’s original vision.
During your colourful adventure you’ll come across a magnitude of stages to explore, epic bosses to take down, collectable character skins and plently of hidden gems and treasures. Rayman and his sidekicks Globox and Teensies will help you along the way, and as you enter a new world they will be provided with new abilities or attacks to learn – meaning you can even revisit older levels and complete them again in different ways.
One of the best features of Rayman is the multiplayer: you’ll struggle to find a game this year that can compete with Origins when it comes to local multiplayer action. Unfortunatley there isn’t any online multiplayer, but, replaying all the levels again in Co-Op becomes a completely different experience. The game uses a simple drop in and drop out system, making it easy for others to join or leave the game any time they want. It’s your choice how you want to play the game, alone or with 3 of your friends. The lack of online multiplayer is at odds with the current broadband multiplayer world we live in now, but we see this more as not compromising on the original concept, than a major downside.
Alongside the visual delights of this remarkable world there is an incredibly accomplished audio score to accompany your adventures. The music manages to capture the varieties of settings from shadowy, dark forests to demonic caves – it’s never too invasive, or overbearing, but adds more magic in a inspired fashion.
Rayman Origins might look like a child games, but in actual fact it’s devilishly difficult with a solid learning curve throughout the game. It won’t take you to the point of controller-throwing, but will require you to concentrate – especially when you’re trying to get final level bonuses. With intelligent checkpoints and no limits on the number times you can repeat a section, Rayman, sails close to alienating players with it’s difficulty curve, but, thankfully, never strays over this ill-fated line.
The strength of Origins is the way Ubisoft, Ancel and his team have brought his whimsical world together with a incredibly strong platforming foundation to make one of the best games of 2011. It’s entertaining and joy to play with plenty of moments of brilliance and ultimately shows that the developers understood the franchise and concept. Ubisoft have made a 2D platformer every bit as good as Sonic or Super Mario and you shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Rayman: Origins. If you are looking for something with bags of wholesome family fun you can’t go wrong with Rayman: it’s fun, entertaining and jam-packed full of the joys of the 16-bit generation with a stunning 21st century lick of colourful paint.