Platform: Xbox 360
Review Date: 8/11/18
Rayman and his friends are taking a peaceful nap at the Snoring Tree, but their loud snoring infuriates an old woman in the Land Of The Livid Dead and she sends an army of Darktoons to get rid of the obnoxious dreamers. Rayman escapes, but Bubble Dreamer's nightmares have infected the Glade Of Dreams and threaten its existence. In order to save the Glade Of Dreams, Rayman has to collect Electoons, battle Darktoons, free the nymphs of the glade, and discover who is behind all of the chaos.
The game is utterly brilliant. As a 2D platformer, it may seem like an evolutionary step backward, but it simplifies the gameplay and allows a sharper focus on the level design and control scheme. This back-to-basics approach is invigorating and brings new life and energy to the entire genre. The art direction is fantastic and the richly detailed environments are full of life, magic, and color. The soundtrack is amazing and the lively music does an excellent job of setting the tone and complementing the lush and vivid atmosphere. The game's playful sense of humor is wonderful and the use of gibberish language adds flavor to the fun. The characters are cute and zany, and the controls are slick and easy to use.
The difficulty ramps up at a slow and steady pace, and new areas and characters are constantly being unlocked. When the game becomes too frustrating, there are always other levels to visit or re-visit. However, that only gets you so far, and you'll eventually get blocked and not be able to make any progress. Boss battles can be excruciatingly difficult, and Rayman can only withstand one or two hits before getting bubblized. The battle inside of a dragon's stomach was by far the most aggravating moment I had in the game, and it took me several hours and a bit of dumb luck to finally get past it. Once all of the bosses are out of the way, the final area becomes available and that's when I had to give up because it became WAY too hard. The Land Of The Livid Dead also opens up once you obtain enough ruby teeth, which is supposed to be even MORE difficult. Even though I wasn't able to finish the game (or even get close), I still managed to get a dozen hours of immense enjoyment out of it, and I experienced enough variety and challenge to make it worthwhile. It's a stellar production and I highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of old-school platforming action, fun characters, and stunning artwork.