Dammit, I love Rayman. Growing up on PC, he was one of the few sidescrolling platform heroes to persist beyond the first wave of MS DOS luminaries — Keen, Nukem et al. His very biology was quirky (no legs, nor arms —just floating extremities) and the levels he travelled through were wacky, and there was an overriding sense of playfulness to the whole affair.
Rayman Origins captures all of this perfectly, but with a jaw droppingly beautiful art style. Environments and backgrounds resemble gorgeous matte paintings, whilst the incredibly intricate character animation evokes the whimsical stylings of a modern cartoon. Complementing this is an eclectic soundtrack that deftly evokes a kind of comical majesty as the action gets faster, more ridiculous and more deadly. Don’t be put off by the game’s deceptively docile opening hour — Rayman gets deviously difficult. Getting 100% in this game is a gargantuan task.
It’s okay, though, because you can tackle the game with three friends. On the same keyboard. That’s right — four players, one keyboard. Those anti-ghost-key technologies are finally going to come in handy. Controls per player aren’t especially complex, so you could pull this off — but it’s going to be easier to plug in multiple gamepads if the fight for keyboard real estate overtakes the flight to the end of the level
And this is where Rayman’s presence on PC, though highly appreciated, tends to stumble. The whimsical chaos of its four- player co-operative platforming just seems far more suited to a console environment — with three friends sprawled on the couch, or even parents playing along with their kids. Of course, hooking your PC up to a TV in the living room would get around this — but are you going to go to that much effort every time you want to play Rayman?
The game tottle work as a single player PC platformer, too — but I feel that’s missing half the point. This rebirth of Rayman seems to have direct Nintendo heritage — right down to Kirby’s lack of consequence for death, and New Super Mario Bros co-operative bubble-recovery mechanic. And Nintendo gameplay demands a Nintendo environment to be experienced in. It’s absolutely not the same environment you’d typically associate with PC — heads down, headphones on, hunched over the keyboard, lost in your own little world. Origins has made Rayman more social than ever before.
The true beauty of the game is in its minute details. It’s In the look of glee on Rayman’s face as he sprints through a stream of glowing pickups. It’s in the way some enemies seem genuinely happy to be jumped on by him. It’s in the subtle notes played as he runs over a floor made out of piano keys. It’s In the way every single element of this delightful platformer — even the menu options — is infused with more personality than the entirety of your average modern first-person shooter.
This game has reminded me why I loved Rayman all those years ago, whilst also being his finest outing. DANIEL HINDES L