Giant Bomb Review

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Rayman Origins Review

5
  • X360

Rayman: Origins is as gorgeously rendered a platformer as you're ever likely to see--and hey, it plays great too!

For those who begrudged last year's best platformer, Kirby's Epic Yarn, for its inherent lack of challenge, Ubisoft's Rayman: Origins would gladly be your huckleberry. Essentially a reboot of Michel Ancel's ageless, armless platforming wonder, Origins is one of those games that simply reminds you why we love this genre to begin with. Apart from its gorgeous looks and clever level designs, Origins is simply packed to the brim with whimsical moments of adorable weirdness, the likes of which ought to melt even the most glacial of hearts.

Rayman's as wacked out as ever, and this time, he doesn't even need Rabbids.

The Origins in the subtitle refers to the game's place in Rayman history as a sort of origin story for Rayman and his crew, but I'll be damned if I could really make heads or tails of any of it. True to series form, Origins' dialogue and storytelling plays second banana to the gameplay and visuals. There's stuff involving nymphs, collectable Electoons, and a bunch of angry monsters, but truth be told, none of it really matters. The dialogue is still made up largely of gibberish with occasionally helpful subtitles, and really, all you need to know is that Rayman's on a mission, and many a jerk chicken, cantankerous fish, and malcontent monster will suffer should they get in his way.

And they do. Often, in fact. To combat these vile forces that have imprisoned those smiling, cooing Electoons (they're basically purple dots with faces and ponytails), Rayman will need a smorgasbord of different abilities to best them, ranging from wall-running to deep-sea diving, with plenty of standard combat in-between.

One of the smarter decisions Origins' designers made was to space out the period between acquiring these abilities. The first five worlds each tend to revolve around a specific ability, whereas the remaining worlds after tend to utilize them all willy-nilly. It gives you ample time with each new mechanic before giving you a series of levels that force you to use several of them at once in rapid succession. Trust me when I say it balances out the challenge in a way that becomes sorely necessary as the game goes along.

It's weird to say it, but Origins is easily one of the more challenging platformers I've played in a good long while. Note that I did not say "difficult" or "hard," but rather "challenging." Toward the end of the game, things do get quite difficult, but by the time you get there, you've already bested so many different obstacles and crazy, timing-based levels that you pretty much know what you're in store for. It's an immaculately-paced campaign that builds you up bit by bit before throwing the hammer down on the player. Moments of frustration are there, especially in some of the treasure hunting side levels, where you're forced to chase a runaway treasure chest while navigating obstacles purely on adrenaline and reflex, leading to more trial-and-error than one might prefer.

Provided your cohorts are up to the challenge, co-op is definitely the way to play.

Then again, trial-and-error is kind of platforming 101, alongside double-jumping, cartoonish bad guys, and levels that revolve around lava, ice, water, and jungles. Origins has all of those things too, but I assure you it uses them with greater creativity than most other genre forebears. Each level in Rayman: Origins feels painstakingly crafted and unique. Yes, certain mechanics and pitfalls are used mutliple times throughout the game, but no two levels ever feel like a riff on one another. There is this great sense of variety as each world opens up, and that feeling never tapers off.

It also bears mention that Origins' control scheme is damn near perfect. Nothing kills a platformer like unresponsive controls, or mechanics that are too difficult to pull off. Ubisoft's Montpelier team has found a fantastic balance of goofy animation and moves that are responsive and generally pretty easy to pull off. Sure, you might periodically mis-time a wall jump or inadvertently overshoot a platform, but thankfully, the game's checkpoint system is exceptionally good at making sure you don't have to traverse a million previously bested traps over again, thus keeping frustration at a minimum.

The only downside to Origins' general challenge level is that it makes it tough to stop and take in the scenery. You'll want to, as Rayman: Origins is about as beautiful a 2D platformer as I've ever seen. The game's art style is as close to an interactive cartoon as we've seen to date, with phenomenal, hand-painted-looking character and world art that blends seamlessly across multiple art styles. The moments you do get to take in are often hilarious and transfixing, goofy and gorgeous all at once. While you might periodically wish for the game to slow down a moment and let you soak it all in, odds are you'll be having too much fun to really care.

Even when it's trying to be ugly, Rayman: Origins looks beautiful.

Odds are your friends will be too, should you opt to include them in on the fun. Co-op play for up to four players is available, and though the levels don't alter with additional players, the game experience most certainly does. Adding additional players definitely ups the frantic factor by a significant margin, albeit not in a detrimental way. The co-op mode is simply a laugh riot, full of unexpected silliness and absurd attacks that often involve screwing with your friends as much as helping them. Again, you can get through Rayman entirely on your own, but playing with friends is absolutely the ideal way to go--provided your friends aren't terrible at these sorts of games, of course.

It's easy to call Rayman: Origins some kind of love letter to the genre, but truth be told, I doubt Ubisoft would be dumping Origins at retail during a period filled with much higher-profile blockbuster releases were the publisher so head-over-heels for the game. It's a little bit tragic that Origins wasn't released during a window where it could breathe a bit more freely, and take a bit of its own spotlight, away from the blinding lights of the Assassin's Creeds, Modern Warfares, and even Super Mario Lands of the world. Origins' hours of wonderfully crafted entertainment deserve to be seen, to be played, and to be enjoyed by as wide of an audience as possible. Seek this one out.

Alex Navarro on Google+
107 Comments
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Posted by wumbo3000

Yes! Cant wait to play this!

Posted by Morningstar

The quick look sold me on this one ^^

Posted by IkariNoTekken

Great review Alex.

Demo was tons of fun, gorgeous art and amazing music.

Posted by Tesla

No online co-op, no buy.

Posted by Delta_Ass

I knew just from the subtitle that this was gonna be an Alex review. That tone is uniquely Navarrian.

Online
Posted by l3illyl3ob

Huh, could have sworn that there was a PC version of this planned at some point. Oh well. Anyone have any info on the Wii version? Is it basically the same game? How do the 2D visuals compare?

Posted by endaround

Review needs more derp

Posted by onlineatron

Derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp, derp...

Come at me, Jeff.

Posted by Lizzie323

Getting this for xmas :)

The first announcement trailer sold it to me....plus it's friggin Rayman :P

Edited by Timing

Awesome! I knew it!

But dammit it's still a week and a half away.

Edit: would've liked to have read something about the music, and maybe a mention that there's no online co-op would've been nice but heck, I'm getting it anyway.

Posted by Pie

Seeing this review just made me happy. 

Posted by Hef

So you're going to sit there and tell me that this game is better than skyward sword?

...wait, that's not how reviews work? You mean the score is only there to back up the opinionated text review? Alright I guess I'l read it then.

Posted by vhold

"Ubisoft's Rayman: Origins would gladly be your huckleberry.", "storytelling plays second banana", "jerk chicken", "Rayman will need a smorgasbord"

Were you hungry when you started writing the review?

Posted by Anwar

Will Alex take part in the GOTY deliberations? He's reviewing a lot of games this year and it would be awesome to hear him.

Posted by skrutop

Looks awesome, but $60 is too steep for a platformer like this. It should drop like a stone after Christmas. I'll get it then.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

I told myself that I would not buy anymore games this season after Skyrim, but the demo for Rayman was so much damn fun, not to mention I've always been a huge Rayman fan. I simply must own this game as soon as possible. Apparently Gamestop will have it for $40 on Black Friday, so that works out well.

Posted by Flappy

I'm genuinely surprised. The art style always caught my attention, but I didn't think it'd be -this- good of a game. Well done, Ubisoft.

Posted by BlaineBlaine

Battlefield, MW, Mario and Zelda get 4 stars and RAYMAN gets a 5?!?! 
 
Two questions: 
 
1) Was Whiskey Media hacked? 
2) Should I change my credit card number? 
 
I've played none of them, I don't doubt the scoring, it just looks a little odd on paper.

Posted by Depth

@BlaineBlaine said:

Battlefield, MW, Mario and Zelda get 4 stars and RAYMAN gets a 5?!?! Two questions: 1) Was Whiskey Media hacked? 2) Should I change my credit card number? I've played none of them, I don't doubt the scoring, it just looks a little odd on paper.

Good games get good scores.

Posted by drew327

To Ubisoft I say: "C'mon, man."

Posted by Eazyrider1

Pretty sure Alex ends up writing more reviews than the rest of the GB crew put together.

Posted by Milkman

Is this 60 bucks?

Posted by MattyFTM

I really hope this game does well. It looks absolutely fantastic, but it seems to be overlooked in favour of your Battlefield's and Skyrim's far too much.

Also - Derp.

Moderator
Posted by mnzy

@BlaineBlaine said:

Battlefield, MW, Mario and Zelda get 4 stars and RAYMAN gets a 5?!?! Two questions: 1) Was Whiskey Media hacked? 2) Should I change my credit card number? I've played none of them, I don't doubt the scoring, it just looks a little odd on paper.

From what I've seen, it looks totally reasonable to me.

Posted by Grimmy616

WHERE IS THE DERP?

Posted by NowSayPillow

Knew I wanted this game. Knew I was gonna get it eventually. This review tells me that I'll be picking it up TODAY.

Posted by JackSukeru

I'll be getting this....eventually.

Actually if I could download it from PSN, like I did with Child of Eden, I would get it right now.

Posted by Sergio

@BlaineBlaine said:

Battlefield, MW, Mario and Zelda get 4 stars and RAYMAN gets a 5?!?! Two questions: 1) Was Whiskey Media hacked? 2) Should I change my credit card number? I've played none of them, I don't doubt the scoring, it just looks a little odd on paper.

Different reviewers, different preferences, different opinions. Jeff didn't like Catherine, but Patrick did, and Vinny seemed to enjoy the little bit he had played before last week's Bombcast.

One thing I wish Giantbomb would do is if someone else on staff eventually played a game to completion, that they give their own score without the formal review. I doubt it'll ever happen since there would be no context behind a score by itself and they probably wouldn't want to undermine the official review.

Posted by gregoryc

Ubisoft is crazy to release this game now. I feel bad it will certainly be overlooked by so many including me, I only have so many hours...

Posted by AlmostSwedish

Unexpected but very welcome. I'll have to pick this up before Christmas. It's been so long since I've played an interesting platformer.

Posted by JetForceGemini

I've only played the demo so far, but this game is easily one of the best looking games ever created. It's so damn pretty.

Posted by LoktarOgar

Why yes Alex, I will gladly feel good about myself for recognizing your Tombstone reference.

Posted by jscro

I just picked this up. Played the demo and loved it. On top of that, the preorder came with a code for Beyond Good and Evil HD. That dulls the $60 hit a bit. This should be big fun to slog through the holidays.

Posted by Zippedbinders

Stop making me want this game. I HAVE NO MORE MONEY TO GIVE.

Posted by Ghostiet

Why there's no PC version?

Posted by Skillface

Waiting patiently for a "WAIT, GIANT BOMB IS SAYING RAYMAN IS AS GOOD AS SKYRIM? I WANT A REFUND"

Edited by Zor

Anyone know how this game (the Wii version) compares to Kirby's Return to Dream Land. I was thinking about getting one of them for a friend for x-mas, but i am not sure which one to get yet (there no review for the Kirby game)

Also, i find it kind of odd that they gave a review to this game, and not the Kirby one... not to say that Rayman isn't* a good brand, but i figure that Kirby had more name recognition, so that they would first review that one, than this one...

Posted by AddyMac

Despite having loved Rayman 1 and 2, I didn't enjoy the demo for Origins at all. Maybe it needs to be played in co-op.

Posted by Itwastuesday

but how derpy is his face? where can I find this information? ISN'T THIS WHAT REVIEWS ARE FOR

Posted by WinterSnowblind
@Ghostiet said:
Why there's no PC version?
Because it's an Ubisoft game.  Even if there was, you wouldn't want it.
Posted by jozzy

I will get this game today or tomorrow, had so much fun playing the demo with the kids. In fact, this is the only game my daughter is actually excited about since ... well... Toy Story 3.

Weird that Alex doesn't mention the sound in this game, the collectible "living coins" in this game sing and it is catchy and awesome as hell.

Posted by Airickson

Pretty direct review: buy this game.

Will likely do so -- but I can wait until it comes down in price a few notches. Too much other nonsense going on right now.

Posted by mabber36

super meat boy was way better than kirby's epic yarn

Posted by SuperSambo

Metacritic has this as 80% on the GB review. Seems like a shame that the one time I have seen this is for a game that needs all the help it can get.

Posted by sparks24

YES! Can't wait to play it! Gonna sell one or 2 of my games to buy this one...don't feel right buying this at full price :/

Posted by McGhee

After so much snowy oppression in Skyrim I could do with some colorful insanity.

Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

I like that I can tell an Alex review by the tagline before I even click to read it.

Posted by louiedog

I was expecting more derp in this review.

Posted by RampageAssassin

5/5 GREAT ! Shame it got such a bad release date but I personally can't wait to play this over the holidays.

Posted by bkbroiler

Fuck, now I want this. I THOUGHT I WAS SET FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, TOO

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