Vita Review: Rayman Origins
Rayman: Origins takes absolutely everything you love from the console versions and puts it in your hands, literally.
- Worth The Time?It's Rayman...you couldn't possibly waste your time.
- Things LovedOnce again, fantastic visuals and art direction, smooth, slick and tight controls, varied locales with distinct art styles, phenomenal level design, frantic side-scrolling platforming action, tons of levels to complete, loads of unlockables, no forced touch features.
- Things HatedDoesn't really take full advantage of Vita's tech, no multiplayer.
- RecommendationMy GOTY for 2011, and easily one of the best titles you could possibly pick up for your new Vita right now. Go on, show your Rayman love.
- Name: Rayman: Origins
- Genre: 2D Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PS Vita
- Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Price: R329.95
- Reviewed On: PS Vita
Last year was very good to gamers. With titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham City, Portal 2 and more, gamers were really spoiled for choice when it came to top notch AAA-titles. As good as this may sound, it was also sad, as many equally as good titles went unnoticed, despite the fact that most of them were GOTY winning material. One of these, and probably the best of the lot, was Rayman: Origins, a 2D, side-scrolling platformer that was able to both impress and blow away critics (including myself) with its incredible level design, unique and gorgeous visuals and undeniable charm. Now, it has finally made its way onto a platform that actually seems perfect for it; The PlayStation Vita.
Making the trasition to the portable platform seems to have left no marks on the quality though, which is probably the most incredible thing about this game. The title is identical to its console counterpart, however one of the most addictive parts of the game did get stripped; Multiplayer. Part of the fun on the console version was having a few mates over and taking on levels in some of the most frantic 4-player co-op action you’ll ever find, but the cut is understandable. Still, some online co-op could’ve still been implemented. Aside from that, the game is identical. You’ll still take control of Rayman and his friends in their quest to, well, do something. As you should know by now, Rayman: Origins doesn’t concern itself with a half-assed story, but rather lets the fantastic gameplay speak for itself. And boy does it have a loud voice.
At its core, Rayman Origins is the best platformer you’ll probably ever play, despite its 2D only orientation. Rayman has a fairly big repertoire of moves that will allow him to shrink, hover, jump, slide and punch his way through obstacles, all of which are unlocked as the game progresses. Levels feel fast and frantic, and the way the environment interacts with your actions is one hell of a sight to behold. Entire rock columns and structures crumble, monsters chase you down, and colourful fish swarm around you in varying locales that all scream with diversity and artistic brilliance, and having these beautiful locations that engulf Rayman are probably some of the best features of the game.
Visuals look as vibrant as ever on the PS Vita’s fantastic OLED screen, and even with a smaller resolution, the amount of work put into the distinct art style is still easily apparent. As most of the artwork was hand drawn before being but into a digital state, every single piece of foliage, every enemy, every collectable feels vibrant and alive. Rayman Origins really does take you into his world or colourful, and sometimes terrifying, inhabitants, and the artists in charge can really be proud of what they accomplished. The framerate also never fails to keep up with all the fast paced frantic fun, making this feel more and more like a console game in your pocket.
But what exactly does one do in Rayman Origins? Well, I’m not going to go into too much detail, because as I said, the game is identical to the console version, which I reviewed last year. In a nutshell, you’ll take control of Rayman in the pursuit of freeing some cute little pink beings that have been trapped by some nightmarish creatures, or something along those lines. As I said, story is never really a concern, so you won’t really have to worry why you need to help these creatures, but it never really matters. Throughout each level, you collect glowing yellow Lums, which are basically the same as Golden Rings in Sonic, and they quickly become an obsession of yours. Part of the brilliance in this title is just how addictive it is. You could easily find yourself playing levels over and over again, in the pursuit of capturing more Lums, or uncovering secret areas. You’re never forced to come back and reply stages, but clearing them quite thoroughly will help unlock even more exciting and unique areas, such as the “chest chase” levels. It’s rare for a game like this to hook you so deep, that you almost feel obligated to finish a stage in its entirety. Not because you have to, but because you absolutely want to.
Chest Chases are probably the most exhilarating pieces of platforming in the game, and it’s a shame there aren’t more opportunities to get more out of them. Each one pits you against a chest that has caught onto Ryman’s box sashing ways and instead of lying in wait for the same fate, darts off and forces you to keep close behind. These levels are extremely exhilarating; mainly due to the fantastic level design that surrounds them. One wrong move could mean failure, and having the environment shift and change at a rapid rate as you sprint through really keeps you on your toes. Thankfully, the amount of challenge present is just right, and you’ll never feel cheated or frustrated. This is a great demonstration of Rayman Origin’s well implemented difficulty curve, and a testament to just how tight the control scheme is. You’ll never perform a jump or move that you never initiated, and there is absolutely no delay to your actions on the screen,. You could compare it to Dark Souls in a way. When you fail, it’s always because you did something wrong, and you’ll always know exactly how to mend your mistake. Trial and error may creep in here and there, but with such a forgiving life system, you’ll never feel too scared to experiment.
All of this is nicely wrapped in a package that, at first glance, seems completely identical to your console version. But surely there must be some added or different features, right? Well, yes and no, as Rayman Origins on the PS Vita shies away from adding anything really meaningful to the formula, which in itself is good and bad. Good, because, well, it was just so darn perfect on consoles, that we should be happy the full and non-watered down possibility wasn’t made into a reality. However, if you’ve played it to completion on a console, you’ll find it hard to go through the same task again on a Vita, especially when most of the stages you’ve already fully explored and raced through. Justifying a second purchase of the same game is hard for most, but having Rayman with you wherever you go can be worth it, especially when you have nothing to do and you realise he’s right there waiting for you. The joy in that moment of realisation is indescribable.
On the flip side, Rayman Origins never really takes full advantage of what the Vita has to offer. Sure, you can use the touchscreen to navigate menus, collect lums and kill enemies, but other than a few totems scattered around levels that you have to touch to collect, nothing really makes meaningful use of this big feature. This is probably my only other disappointment with the game. While I’m glad no forced and stupid features were added for the sake of being there, I feel more could’ve been done with the tools laid out. Some neat accelerometer moments could’ve been fun, but if Ubisoft realised that it wasn’t working with what they had, and decided to put it in anyway, I would be angrier. So, maybe the restraint on the new features is actually a good thing.
Add in a “ghost” time trial mode, and that is basically what Rayman Origins offers you on the Vita. Don’t get me wrong though, this is still one incredible title, and easily one of the best you’ll ever pick up for the platform. If you recently bought a Vita and the only thing you think is good is Uncharted, think again. Go out and buy Rayman Origins. It will change your life, in an absolutely fantastic way. Platforming is far from dead.