Nostalgia is a great thing, especially when it revives an interest in something I’d not experienced since my childhood. A good friend of mine recently recommended platform game Rayman Origins to me and I jumped in – Rayman was a franchise I’d not dipped into since the original game for the PlayStation. I expected good things and wasn’t disappointed.
As a pure, old-school platformer, Rayman Origins features a simple premise: Rayman (or the character you elect to play as; a selection is unlocked as you progress) must free as many Electoons from their cages as possible to restore the balance of the game world. These cages are usually hidden in secret areas of levels or amongst elaborate traps and puzzles. Additional Electoons can be freed by completing each stage to a certain degree of competency measured in the number of “lums” collected; I frequently called the lums “tings” in error in a nostalgic callback to my time playing the original game.
Rayman Origins is not a perfect game, but gets a lot right (and a lot wrong, but I shall discuss that later). Artistically, it’s a standout title that I can’t commend highly enough. The graphics are joyous and whimsical, slightly cartoony and giving the impression almost of a “kids game” when it’s anything but. I really enjoyed experiencing some truly beautifully sculpted levels. The cel-shaded animation style is refreshing, crisp and engaging. Vivid colours and exciting effects drew me in and kept me playing, as traversing frankly beautifully layered levels was simply enjoyable. Standing out for me was the “Gourmand Land” levels that are a juxtaposition of ice-cold and red-hot, but avoid the typical snowman and lava tropes in an inventive, whimsical and fun way – instead of dodging lava monsters and snowmen the character glides through levels filled with dragon waiters, lemons on forks and giant chilli-fuelled heat streams. One overall theme I didn’t really approve of was the overall raunchiness in the design of the fairies that granted additional powers.