I don’t think I have ever smiled and yelped with excitement as much as I did while playing Rayman Legends. Everything from the absolutely beautiful art and visuals of the game, to the inspired locations, the whimsical characters and the toe-tapping musical score is designed to make your smile span ear to ear. Michel Ancel is the Steve Jobs of smiles and Rayman Legends is quite simply his best invention yet.
Its moment to moment platforming is brilliant, its level design is spectacular, and the game never lets up throwing new and interesting challenges for you to take head on. It is equal parts pixel perfect platformer and accessible side scroller and is so packed full of content that you’ll see the credits roll hours before you’ve exhausted every drop of content the developers have packed into it. Reaching the end of each level is just the first step to completing the game – Ubisoft Montpellier have crammed enough collectibles into each level to warrant at least two if not more play throughs of each level. Some of them are deviously well hidden, while others require quick reactions to be able to reach. Either way rescuing all of the Teensies is rewarding, and rewarded, by opening up new levels and unlockables. If you are a completionist be warned – there will be times that your patience will be tested, particularly in the ‘time trial’ levels that require you to maintain a perfect line and pace to the end. Of course it’s not mandatory to horde these collectibles but if you’re not shy of a challenge you’ll find yourself compelled to do so.
For the most part Legends plays much in the same way as its predecessor, Origins (which I should mention if you’re a big fan of a large portion of its levels are remixed and included in this game). But new to this game are the sections where you play as Murphy and (I played the Wii U version) require clever use of the touch screen to guide through levels. You’ll move obstacles, rotate levels and remove hazards all using the touchscreen as the AI controlled character, for the most part, makes like a Lemming and walks to the right. I can’t speak to how this was implemented on other consoles that don’t have a second screen but these levels make the game feel like it is at home on the Wii U. They’re not the best sections of the game, nowhere near in fact, but the use of the touchscreen is so intrinsic to how these levels were designed that I can’t imagine playing them any other way.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the perfectly placed cherry on top of the game that is the musical levels. Part ‘runner’ part Sound Shapes, these levels in essence perfectly sum up the approach taken to making Legends a fun, funny, charming and beautiful game. I don’t want to go into too much detail because discovering and seeing these for yourselves is a truly unique experience . Know going in though that those half a dozen or so levels you will have even the most jaded and angry person struggling to contain their joy and excitement at watching the level and character’s actions time perfectly with the music.
In case you haven’t already cottoned onto it this is one absolutely stunning game. Its unique and vibrant art style brings the fantastical to life as you make your way through levels inspired by medieval fantasy, modern day espionage and a tropical underwater paradise. It doesn’t take a connosieur to see the effort gone into making this game as appealing on the eye as possible, as it takes on a painterly quality that no other game does. If you thought the ‘Starry Night’ inspired level in New Super Mario Bros U was special then you’re definitely in for a treat here. But its the little details that the artists and animators have added to the game that make it just that little bit more special. Watching the different ways that the playable characters (of which there are many) animate and move about through the levels is a treat as they all fly, slide and run through levels with unique animations. Many people won’t notice, but it is the little details like this that take Rayman Legends to a cracking game, to something nearing perfection to the extent that what it puts on the table is appealing to you. If you like platform games, this game is currently right at the top of the pile.
Every minute spent with Rayman Legends is one well spent. If its not charming you with flashes of inspirational level and character design, it is making your jaw drop at how gorgeous it is to look at. At its heart its a platformer but everything stacked on top of that makes it one of the must-play games of the year and I’m hard pressed to think of a game I have had more fun with than Rayman Legends. Smiles guaranteed.