Rayman Origins was the platformer gamers needed, but not one that they deserved. I think that fits Rayman Origins situation quite nicely because honestly this game kinda came out of nowhere. Considering the rein of First Person Shooters had after the platforming genre left off it seems almost too surreal to really get a big retail release of a platformer game, especially one that doesn’t feature Mario or Sonic. It’s not really because everyone didn’t like them, but they just didn’t seem to sell well with today’s crowd, and it seemed like all other developers seem to quit making big bucks around them. In comes Rayman Origins, an amazingly gorgeous looking game that has a bunch of pretty backgrounds, fluid animation, and an amazing soundtrack to boot. Everything in this game was just top notch and to see it drop down in price and widely ignored by the majority of the public is a sad thing to see. While I personally didn’t really come into the light till Rayman Legends it was too late and the damage was already done. Thankfully Origins is still celebrated today and hopefully Ubisoft or some other game company will keep making solid platformers like this, but for now Origins is a gem from the last generation.
The game works on such a basic level that it can feel right at home with anyone holding the controller. The hovering and attacking is simple to do, and the run button’s placement makes it perfect for gripping the controller. Jumping and running up walls is also very responsive leaving very little lag time, and hardly ever feels like its the game’s fault that you didn’t jump properly. Level design is at its finest due to the large amount of variety of going through each level. The majority of the time though it’s running up walls and platforming throughout the level, but a lot of levels change it up by either chasing something or having a wall of death chase you. A lot of these levels are fast paced, and are a nice break from the regular platforming and wall jumping because a lot of the actions are often fluid or go hand in hand with the music. Making a lot of jumps or runs easier to handle at such a fast pace because of how in-sync the music is with this game. A few other levels also include a shmup based element by having you ride a big mosquito that shoots things at upcoming enemies. Needlessness to say that a lot of Origins is very original in its delivery and always knows how to keep the pace going from being boring.
Everything about Origins just feels so right at home and really makes the platforming genre work in this day and age. While the game is still quite challenging, even more so at the very end, the game levels the playing field by simply taking out the life system completely. Admittedly the life system is a bit of an outdated concept, and often can be the root of problems with difficultly, even to the point where people can no longer play it. Origins takes care of this by simply having the checkpoint system work as a save point in the level and lets you die enough times till you get everything right, or at least close enough. See by taking out the life system it’s able to impose a lot of tricky jumps and bosses by simply making it where you start out exactly where you were troubled at, and it lets you do it over and over again till you get it right. Course this doesn’t outright take out the challenge of platforming because you still have to do all the platforming yourself, but also because the ranking system Origins gives you at the end of each level. With each level there are a certain amount of lums to get and when you get a certain amount you will unlock medallion that shows your rank. Course getting all these lums isn’t that easy, even with no lifes attached to it. For the majority of the game, you pretty much have to play perfectly in order to obtain the highest rank as each lum can make you or break you on counting time. Even more so the king lums are able to double the amount of lums you get by turning them all red, but it only lasts a short amount of time so you have to make them count.
Origins isn’t a complete God sent though, and does have a few minor problems with the way it delivers itself. Despite how often it can feel varied and mixed throughout the game, it’s often the opposite and the worlds often get into very formulaic patterns. Each beginning level for the first few worlds will start out or finish with chasing down a fairy / box thingy, and there will always be some sort of mosquito level in the world somewhere. So when you get near the end of the game you are rarely really surprised by it and it’s a shame considering how original and inspiring this game can be. Not to mention the story makes very little sense, and by that I mean a standard Mario game tells a better story than this one does. The jest of what I can make out is that Rayman and friends are very loud snores and the forces of darkness hate that and take over the world. I get that they needed conflict, but I’m pretty sure Rayman used to be better at storytelling. On top of that Rayman Origins has something I like to call mindless Co-op. For those that aren’t aware what I mean by that term, it means that its a game that didn’t need Co-op at all, but added it in while not giving any measures to stop problems with it or add anything fun to do with. While I do have to say the Co-op doesn’t get nearly as bad as a round of NSMB Wii, it doesn’t do that much better with the ability to punch each other and mess up each others jumps. Sure you can still occupy the same space and not get in the way as often, but being able to get a high rank with Co-op is a hard thing to do, especially with an uncooperative party. The Co-op certainly isn’t good, but its a nice addition that certainly doesn’t ruin the game.
Rayman Origins really deserves more attention than it actually gets. While the story and Co-op play can be mindless fun, the heart of Origins is much more than that. It’s a game that helps bring platforming to next gen consoles with glorious art, an amazing soundtrack, tight controls, and amazing level design. Any platforming fan will enjoy it, and it can make even make some along the way too.