Jan 302012
 

Status: Normal ending completed. “True” ending a distant possibility.

Most intriguing idea: Selling a 2D platformer as a packaged HD release.

Best design decision: Fusing fiendish challenge with forgiving collection mechanics.

Worst design decision: The reliance on perfect timing undermines the attractiveness of the skins.

Summary:

Rayman: Origins may be the most charming, delightful game that will ever make you want to break your controller. As with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, though, most of the aggravation is optional, at least until the end of the game. Getting through a level and grabbing most of its electoons usually doesn’t place a high demand on the player’s reflexes or require any strategy beyond exploratory boldness. Gathering all the lums in a level, or even enough to get all its electoons, however, is incredibly challenging. Chasing down the treasure chests that unlock the bonus levels is even more difficult, and after one of these stages glitched out on me I gave it up.

The final levels of the main game are an exception; these are quite hard and require very precise timing. In these stages and the treasure chases the game felt inflexible to the point of fragility. Because I don’t find that kind of challenge terribly interesting, these were my least favorite bits of the game. Also, the presence of such narrow-optimum levels is probably why the unlockables are only skins rather than genuinely different characters, which made them less enticing.

The game’s presentation is fantastic, with lush visuals and a distinctive art style that more than justifies the decision to present the game in HD. While each world has its charms, my personal favorite was the undersea land, which had whimsy, mystery, and some of the Christophe Héral score’s highest points. Of course, the music that will forever haunt my dreams is this:

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