I'm not a long-term fan of Rayman. Rayman 2 was an OK game. The Rabbids were amusing, but didn't lead themselves to great games. So, I was trying Rayman Origins without huge expectations.
I was FLOORED.
Rayman Origins might be the best platformer of the last few years not named Mario and is up there in the running for Multiplatform Game of the year. There is nothing I can fault the game for. It is a game that is not apologetic for being a game...but, equally, it is a game that has nothing to apologize for. There really aren't any levels that feel like they are significantly worse than the other levels --- true, some of the treasure levels are intensely difficult, but when you figure out how to complete it, you feel like the world's greatest gamer. It is a fair challenge for a designer --- creating a level that you know is harder than heck but that the gamer always feels like he/she virtually is on the verge of completing it. I know I've had several games where I eventually say "Forget this nonsense" and just quit. I never got there with this game, and I died A LOT.
The levels are expertly laid out. They manage to be really, really challenging...but not frustrating. When you die, you know it is always your fault. It's not the fault of poor game design. You have to be both quick and very precise, but the frustration that are known to exist in games like Splosion Man never comes up here. You are given a lot of different abilities and are given plenty of time to learn how to use them before you're required to use all of them to complete more challenging levels.
In terms of animation, it is a beautifully animated game where the gorgeous animations have no negative repurcussions on gameplay. It looks like a cartoon and plays really precisely. I have no clue how Ubi pulled it off, but their engine is an amazing piece of work. It is the only game I can think of that is equally as much fun to watch somebody else play as to play yourself. It is like a cartoon. The small touches can be a challenge to really focus on when the action really hits the fan. The ending of the level animation of you getting a picture behind a cutout is adorable.
The story, like with all platformers, is not all that vital. You are trying to free the Electoons, nymphs, and kings.
I cannot recommend the game highly enough. This is a platformer that is almost art. It is balanced with amazing controls with brilliantly unique level designs. Get it.