Having loved Rayman Origins for its fantastic platforming, I couldn’t wait to get a hold of the latest game in the series, Rayman Legends. Screenshots and trailers made me even more jealous of the games Wii U exclusivity, until one day Ubisoft announced that they would be releasing the game on all platforms simultaneously across all systems. I decided to purchase the game on PS Vita, for the sheer sake of portability and for having a game to play on the system.
The game starts out with Rayman and his pals asleep in the forest, whilst the world is being taken over and destroyed by a bunch of dragons and pirates. A green ‘fly’ comes to the rescue by waking Rayman and co, and telling them the world needs saving. The first levels sets you up and gets you used to the basics of the mechanics all over again (being able to sprint, jump, punch etc.), but a twist occurs when you can’t proceed any further in the level, and must touch the screen in order to continue.
This is where the game gets strange and I wasn’t sure about my purchase. When touching the screen, you take control of murphy (the green fly from earlier), and set upon helping the king teensy navigate the rest of the level. In these stages (of which there are many), you use the many abilities of the Vita to help the king teensy through the stage, buy swatting pests flames, slicing ropes of obstacles, and rotating the device to change the shape and layout of the level. This all sounds fine in theory, and finally makes good use of the PS Vitas different sensors and touch screens, but its the actual character that sticks out and is annoying. The king teensy is AI controlled, meaning he’ll walk through the level just like you would if you controlled him. Where the annoyances come in are obstacles or trying to find hidden secrets, as the king teensy can make the wrong move, killing himself and starting the stage again, or ignoring the fact you’ve opened a new door, missing the secrets you’ve uncovered. These sections were my least favourite of the whole game, taking away from the fantastic level design and glorious platforming the Rayman games usually encapsulate so well.
There are around 48 new levels to play in Rayman Legends, with another 40 from the original game, making for a lot of content to play through. Each level has between 3 and 10 teensies to find and rescue, making for 700 tenses in total to help rescue. I can’t say how long I’ve played the game so far, but it must been in the 10’s of hours, and not single digits, as there’s just so much to do and collect. The new levels are interesting and stylishly done, but with half of them being the murphy levels, I became bored and annoyed at how they were designed. Whenever I got around to unlocking a new world I’d go out of my way to avoid the murphy challenges, so that I could have fun on the normal levels instead. The inclusion of the original Origins levels was nice, but it feels like a bit of a gimic to make the game bigger with relatively little work. The levels haven’t changed except there’s more teensies to collect than before, making them boring and tedious if you’re like me and played the original game many times with friends and family.
One new mechanic Ubisoft have added for Legends is the ability to store and collect lums that you collect in each level. These lums are accumulated, and can be used to unlock new playable characters, from knight Rayman, to jungle Rayman, it allows you to progress through just playing the game. Everything seems to be revolved around these lums though, with scratch cards being unlocked in levels that can give you more lums, unlocking classic levels from origins, or unlocking creatures that you keep hidden away so that they slowly give you lums on different days of the week.
Ubisoft have also added a new online mode, where you can compete in daily and weekly challenges in order to prove your might against other players across the world. These levels consist of small challenges, like collecting 250 lums as fast as possible, or reach 200metres asap, to which you’ll be rewarded with a small number of lums depending on where you’ve placed in the world wide rankings for that particular challenge. It’s certainly one way to get players involved everyday, with the levels being small enough that you could play for 5-10 minutes a day, just to maintain a score on the world rankings.
Rayman Legends was a weird mixed bag of experiments and tried and tested fantastic gameplay. You can tell, especially with the Murphy sequences, that the game was designed from the ground up with the Wii U gamepad in mind, but those controls only work with multiple people playing. I found myself being the bystander, watching as the AI got to have all the fun navigating the levels. The collection of lums and online scoreboards also felt like a new experiment as a way to ensure players kept coming back for more, even after finishing the main campaign and side levels like the original Origins ones. I suppose what I’m trying to say is: Rayman Legends feels contrived. I enjoyed my time I’ve spent with the game, but cannot for the life of me understand why Ubisoft took some fantastic platforming, and replaced it with such a boring mechanic like touch screen controls and accelerometer controls. By all means play Rayman Legends, you may enjoy some levels, but be warned, you may not enjoy the other half.