Move over, Mario. You have some company at the platforming top.
It’s hard to know exactly what kind of creature Rayman is, but his legend is growing. And in Rayman Legends, it reaches its apex. Ubisoft’s colorful new entry is platforming gaming at its finest, brimming with content and overflowing with sheer fun, with just enough bizarre and innovative thrown in to always keep you guessing.
In one level, you’ll run at light speed to avoid oncoming flames, your jumps splendidly timed to the musical beats of “Eye of the Tiger.” In another, when a boat collapses straight down upon you, you’ll jump and wall-run and swing your way straight up, in perpetual motion and yet almost never moving all at once.
Some levels offer straightforward platforming all the way up until the moment when you’ll rush to beat thorns, or flames, or something else to the end. Other levels offer intriguing risk-reward and timing, forcing you to decide whether to land on the parachuting enemies, or kill them and slide to other areas. Sometimes, you’re making these decisions at light speed; on other occasions, just often enough to mix things up, you get to take your time.
It’s some of the best, most interesting platforming level design in a while. Every single level feels original, different from the last, and that engrosses you throughout the entire game. If ever a platformer managed to keep you on the edge of your seat, this one is it.
In each level, you’ll want to rescue all the Teensies — sometimes by solving puzzles, sometimes by navigating tricky platforming, occasionally just by running into them to preserve some sense of ease in the game. Find enough, and you’ll unlock more levels, more heroes, and more special features.
The beauty of Rayman Legends lies in the little things. The pacing is spot-on, and, even in a genre that’s been around for decades, Ubisoft finds fun ways to be creative. There’s something satisfying about those levels where the music serves as cue for your leaping and attacking, and solving the light puzzles to rescue certain hidden Teensies is equally fun.
The visuals and sound effects add a lighter side to what’s often a challenging platformer. Find a hidden room, and you’ll hear a tongue-in-cheek “ooooooo!” And at the end of every level, things reach a cartoony crescendo complete with a wild and fun visual representation of your performance in the area. Do well enough in a level and you’ll earn a lucky card you can scratch off, revealing unlockable characters, paintings and other things.
It’s all an apt reminder that this is supposed to be a fun game, even if a few sections here and there are interminably challenging. None of it ever feels unfair, thankfully, courtesy of taut, easy-to-use controls.
Rayman, who’s really just one of a host of characters that you can control and unlock in this game, can jump, glide ever-so-slightly, attack and occasionally do other things — all standard platforming stuff and all easy to pick up. Momentum and timing, staples of platforming, are the name of the game here, and they feel completely natural in this effort.
It all adds up to one of the finest platforming games you’re going to play, and in a genre that’s seen its share of Mario and Sonic hits, that’s not praise that’s doled out lightly.
Yes, Rayman Legends is simply that good.