There is a sense of unadulterated joy that Rayman Legends creates that few other games of this generation have. It’s that type of feeling that you felt playing your first Super Mario game where traversing every level is an opportunity to overcome a challenge while exploring every nook and cranny for the next cool thing. Despite the fact that I’ve been playing platformers for decades, this recaptures that magic through a plethora of fresh ideas and solid platforming action is executed to perfection.
The game was already on the fast track to success based on its predecessor. Rayman Origins is amazing and only had a few aspects that could be held against it. Legends addresses the original game’s faults head-on and then some. This game is definitely challenging, though not nearly as cheap as the later levels of Origins. On top of that, the linear level progression of the first game has been ditched in favour of a hub world where levels are opened up based on the number of teensies that are saved. As such, you’ll almost always have multiple levels to play, which minimizes the possibility of getting completely stuck.
I generally hate talking about visuals, but my goodness do they look phenomenal here. Incredible art direction in combination with a rock-solid frame rate and wildly imaginative setpieces work in tandem to create a treat for the eyes. It’s amazing how everything comes to life as if you’re playing an actual cartoon.
You can play through this by yourself, though it’s best with others. In particular, the Wii U version has exclusive access to Murfy. By using the touchscreen on the Gamepad, he can impact the world in a number of meaningful ways, from moving platforms to clearing away enemies before they can hit others. This could have easily been a gimmick, though it’s constantly finding cool ways to use the functionality in meaningful ways. If there is any title that can be held up as a proof-of-concept for the asymmetric gameplay that the Wii U can provide, this is it right now.
Beyond traversing through the main levels, there’s so much more to do here. Collectables are abound for completionists. There are daily and weekly challenges you can partake in with online leaderboards. The challenges themselves definitely feel like they’re randomly generated from existing pieces, though they’re fine for what they are. The huge gain here is that most of the levels from Origins are included as bonus content. You unlock them as you progress through the main game and can access them any time after that.
Rayman Legends is a stellar follow-up to an already great game. It refines the few misgivings I had with the first one while introducing a slew of great ideas into it’s traditional platformer framework. Even the touchscreen stuff is very well thought out and executed. This is an easy one to recommend to pretty much anyone.