Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U, Microsoft Windows.
Release Date: Out Now
The rebirth of a franchise is a difficult task to pull off. As a once-off, it can be refreshing, but to any continuation further than that can easily lead to it becoming distressingly stale once more. Change too much, you risk alienating the fans. Too little, you risk monotony.
The Rayman franchise has proved venerable, adapting to the third world platform, falling to commercialism, only to finally bring it back to the franchise’s bubble gum pop side scrolling adventure.
In Rayman Origins, the franchise remerged as a side scrolling platformer that proved a multi-player delight. In Rayman Legends, Ubisoft have continued the smile-enducing mayhem, promoting a counter culture to that of the graphic, macho, first-person shooter, multiplayer trend.
Cutting the madcap to a quarter may seem trivial, yet single-player secures its place as a necessary play, even if it’s just to take a breather and witness UbiArts blend its wild themes with the UbiArt Framework engine. The engine brings the art back to the artist, its effects unquestionably delightful. Witnessing this thing in motion, firing on all cylinders, is simply an aesthetic treat.
Rather than fill players’ minds with special guest appearances, bazillions of weapons to collect, and a storyline so diverse that Kerouac would smile from his sweat stained typewriter, Rayman pulls everything right back.
Depicting a delightfully minimalist story, Rayman awakens in the Glade of Dreams to find the land’s ten princesses have been kidnapped. It’s a riff on the many tropes of the genre, and Rayman continues to snigger at his counterparts, and more importantly, himself.
The enduring strangeness of Rayman is in the confidence of its visuals. The game is spread across five worlds that add a very Rayman touch to genre staples such as the Water Region, with Legends notably diversifying its blend of second and third dimensions. It’s not tacky, with the timing and pace of the worlds following a logical end.
This logic continues in its expectations for the player, and their experience. Beginning with simply punching and gliding, Rayman ultimately storms multitudes of castles, whilst the surrounding chaos of the set piece cleverly blares out a disturbingly rich cover of Black Betty.
Boss battles mix the game’s underrated physics engine, all the while providing a chuckle-worthy tough, but fair challenge. Balancing an entire building while battling a dragon is an experience of leverage, that blends not only dimensions, but a reminder of everything the stage had taught the player about the subtle ways of crossing a not so subtle environment.
At its core, Rayman Legends is a colourful wall of sights and sounds, a meta-platformer with a lovely lum tinted heart.