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TriplZer0 avatar 9:12 PM on 11.10.2011  (server time)
First Times: Rayman Origins Demo Impressions

Confession time: I’ve never played a Rayman game. In fact I only vaguely associate Rayman with his own series. The first things that come to mind are those Rabbit-thing mini-game collections on the Wii. But I’ve heard a lot of good things about Rayman Origins so I decided to check out the demo. Read on for the impressions of a first time Rayman-er…Raymanist? I’ll figure it out later.

Who are these people...things?

First things first. Holy 2D graphics, Batman! The game looks amazing. I love the art direction and the colors. Despite lacking that (essential to some people) third dimension, everything looks crisp and colorful .And this is just the opening stages. The names of the stages and the locations mean nothing to me, but they sure look pretty!

Still on the topic of graphics and art, I really like the creature design. Everything looks like they belong to the same universe. It doesn’t matter that Rayman has floating hands and feet with no limbs (kind of like an Anti-Homestar Runner). His strange deformities (if they are truly that) come across as commonplace in this universe. I have no idea what kind of creatures I’m fighting, what the hell those things I’m collecting are--bugs of some kind, maybe--but they’re all unique looking.

However I did find some graphical and stylistic issues. In the beginning of the first level I couldn’t tell if there were different branching paths with one being “closer” to the screen. But then I realized what I was seeing was just part of the foreground. The problem showed up again in the third level when I was being chased by some giant eel monster thing. It was one of those classic Big Monster Chases You From The Left While The Level Collapses Around You sequences, but again at times I couldn’t tell what was on my plane and what was just set dressing. I died a few times just because I wasn’t sure what I could jump on and another time when I got squished by falling debris I thought was in the background. I don’t know if this will continue to be a problem in later levels after I get accustomed to Rayman Origins’ style, but it is a little worrying.

This frickin' guy, right?

So yeah the demo looks great, but how does it play? Here’s where my initial enthusiasm started to wear off. The game takes a very old school approach. Very minimal tutorials to start with. I didn’t know I could double jump and hover using my hair/head-parts (a little like Dixie Kong) until halfway through the first level. Also the decision to put the sprint button on the trigger and shoulder buttons seems a little strange. I’m sure I’d get used to it eventually, but it felt awkward holding down R2 or R1 to sprint. I’d take the classic Y to sprint, B to jump combination any day.

Like I said before, I never played a Rayman game before, so I don’t know his precise physics. Still something felt a little “off” during my time with the demo. Sometimes my jumps--especially when jumping off a vine--would go much farther than I expected and other times I’d fall short. This could just be part of the learning curve associated with playing a new platformer.

My time with Rayman Origins was short, but I walked away having seen some brilliant graphical touches and adorable sound effects. Each level looks like it’ll have some replayability as players can try to collect enough “yellow things” or free some trapped “pink” things to 100% the level. No idea what beating these challenges gets you. I also saw hints that the game isn’t going to pull any punches later on. I have a feeling this is going to be a difficult game. Whether or not that’s your thing, well…I couldn’t tell you that.

The question is: do I want to spend $60 on what, to me, is essentially a brand new IP? I don’t want to come across as one of those people moaning, “Ugh this game needs to be priced at $40 ‘cause it’s 2D” but at the same time I know I’d be more willing to take a chance on it if it was cheaper—not because of the graphics, just because I’m not the biggest platformer fan. Still every “new” IP deserves a chance, right?

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