Sliding through a icy landscape akin to a giant cold drink, leaping through the air and slapping a fire breathing waiter. Sound unusual? Better get used to it because Rayman Origins divulges such wonderfully bizarre situations like normality. After a long period away the limbless wonder returns for the latest entry in the franchise after letting the Raving Rabbids hold the wheel for a while. Setting up camp on Vita, after making himself at home just about everywhere else, Rayman: Origins loses none of it’s humour, wacky art style or slick platforming in translation.
Set in the captivating realm of dream world Rayman: Origins is visually striking, built like the fantasy worlds dreamt up in the mind of a child sprung to life, from massive tundra’s in cocktail glasses to deserts in which transportation is provided by didgeridoo’s. These mad artistic twists invade the archetypes of the genre ensuring your never just exploring worlds of lava, ice or jungle. Wonderful creative elements like this make world come alive with wonder, excitement and, most importantly innocence; something that regularly feels amiss in an industry obsessed with an ocean of grey battlefields.
Visual flare is enhanced further by the incredibly wise design choice to use a 2D canvas to splurge whimsical creativity over, rather than building 3D rendered characters and environments; every frame feels hand drawn with care and attention to detail. This uncompromising determination to follow it’s own unique artistic vision makes every second of Rayman absolutely burst with charm. What’s more it performs like a power house too, ensuring all the chaotic action is ran in a silky smooth consistent frame rate.
Happily Rayman’s fluidity in animation is equalled by it’s frantic gameplay. Stages are engineered like race tracks with one path to follow rarely diverging, this ensures an adrenaline pumping mad dash complete with plenty of enemy slapping and lum collecting (Rayman’s coins). Although there’s a bit of a difficulty curve, it’s precise controls mean that deaths never feel cheap; because of the checkpoint system that activates every time you enter a new section of a level situations like trying to reach a special coin in a pesky location remains a challenge rather than evolving into frustration. You’ll not always be running around either, occasionally you take the skies, flying atop of a giant mosquito changing the gameplay to that of an old school side scrolling shooter, these sequences share the equally high level of polish and charm as their platforming counterparts, whilst providing an enjoyable change of pace.
Hidden away in each level a plethora of collectables and hidden locations, some of which will be unreachable during first attempts, as rather than a traditional power up system Rayman: Origins Relies on a system of unlocking new techniques. So although you’ll begin with the basics like jumping and attacking, new abilities are accumalted throughout the course of the game, ranging from the practical diving underwater to the excitement inducing gliding. There’s enticement to go back and replay levels as well gathering collectables with your advanced powers will unlock new costumes for Rayman and the other playable characters, Glowbox and the Teensies. In addition to collectables each level also features two challenges for experienced players who can attempt gather a large number of lums on their run or beat the time trial – each provides a higher level of difficulty than a standard playthrough.
During the console outings one of the grandest features of the game was the local co-op which allowed upto 4 players to play the game together, sadly this mode has been completely omitted from the Vita release. Instead Rayman: Origins now sports a ghost mode that allows players to record time trials and send them to their friends to beat, unfortunately this mode is about as exciting as it sounds and doesn’t have much draw. It’s shame that co-op could not be implemented as the Vita is capable of both online and local multi-player.
It’d be a injustice when talking about Rayman: Origins to not give credit to it’s sound design. With it’s array of incredibly catchy music and slaptastic sound effects. Nothing gets raises the excitement quite like collecting a king lum and beholding the spectacle of all the others bursting into song and dance.
Rayman: Origins is easily both one of the greatest recent platforming games and one of the best games in the Vita’s library With it’s phenomenal art style and engaging game play it’s a blast from the past. What should be a relic of an era of video games gone by does more than fuel nostalgia, it perfectly demonstrates how much fun there is in the genre, easily standing along side other classics. It proves that there is still very much a place for these kind of experiences and during a time filled with first person shooters Rayman is well appreciated breath of fresh air.