While they can get soul-crushingly difficult, the Tricky Treasures (and The Land of the Livid Dead that they unlock) are optional. Unfortunately, the high difficulty doesn’t stop with these particular levels. Some of the regular levels can become quite difficult as well, especially a chase sequence in the final level. At the very least, gritting through the game’s difficulty gives you the sense of smug satisfaction that’s usually reserved for beating a Dark Souls boss.
Finally, Rayman Origins takes a cue from New Super Mario Bros. Wii by implementing drop-in, drop-out co-op for up to four players. You can’t bump each other around by simply trying to occupy the same physical space as in New SMB, so you comfortably can play with more than two players in Origins. Griefers can rest easy knowing that you can still jerk your friends around with the same attack button that you use for regular enemies. Hell, you can even slap each other upwards in a way that makes it possible to nab hard-to-reach Lums that you may have otherwise missed. My only complaint about the co-op is that it isn’t playable online — two to four players in the same room or bust. In an age in which more and more people are making friends online, it seems like a wasted opportunity.
I didn’t realize it when I slipped the disc into my PS3, but Rayman Origins was exactly what I needed. While I was enjoying my time with Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, I was being beat over the head with overtly serious stories that were sometimes too serious for their own good (that was the case for BF3, at least).
Entering the Glade of Dreams, then, was the breath of fresh air that I needed. Where the shooters I was playing were brown and grey, Rayman Origins treated me to vividly colored landscapes. Gone were the soldiers yelling about a possible nuclear holocaust, replaced by a bunch of goofy friends enjoying each other’s company and slapping each other around. Instead of bombastic orchestral scores, Origins is silly without necessarily sounding childish and offers an eclectic mix of some of the catchiest tunes you’ll hear this year.
While the spike in difficulty may be too much for some players, it could very well be the kick in the ass that others are looking for and is easily this year’s premier platforming experience. If I could ask my 1993-self what I thought video games would be like 18 years later, my answer would describe something very much like Rayman Origins, and frankly I don’t think I could pay it any higher compliment than that.
FINAL GRADE: A-