After spending the last several hundred hours of my game time playing RPGs (no joke), I needed a break. The only games currently in my backlog at the moment are Final Fantasy IV and V, so I decided I would instead need to revisit something I had played before. Being in quite a Rayman mood after replaying Rayman Origins, I decided to connect the good, ol’ N64 and replay some of my old favorites, Rayman 2: The Great Escape and the Banjo-Kazooie games. (Obviously, Banjo-Kazooie in no way relates to Rayman, but I may as well play them while the console’s plugged in.)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played this game, but I didn’t find it one bit less enjoyable than every time prior. I mean it, I had a great time with this game, and there is one thing that always struck me about this game that really makes it stand out from anything else I’ve ever played. The mystery.
Rayman’s world, the Glade of Dreams, is an exceedingly beautiful place. No one can deny that. The sheer detail Ubisoft incorporates in the scenery, from lush plant-life to intricate stained glass, is amazing. Not only is everything beautiful, but there are no straight edges. Buildings are crooked and ramshackle. The walls slant and the floorboards are not always totally rectangular. And amidst all this beauty is a feeling of wonder, of mystery. You are totally surrounded by nature, to the point that it’s overwhelming, and any time you see a break from that, like the sludge-spewing pipes courtesy of the vile Robo-Pirates, it feels all the more jarring in the otherwise pristine landscape. Technology is not welcome here. Only nature reigns supreme.
The Glade of Dreams is a world very much unlike our own, which is one reason why I love to revisit it time and time again. It is also why I often find myself thinking about the creatures, sentient or not, that inhabit it, of which we see just enough to intrigue me, while the rest of your travels are done so totally alone in the wilderness (so to speak). And when you do visit buildings like the various Sanctuaries, you wonder who built them and when and why? (At least, I do.) Were they only meant to house the four masks of Polokus, or are there other purposes to them? And what about the wildlife? Surely no one has played this game without noticing all of the noises of creatures that are never seen. Was the noise I just heard the hoot of a bird or the howl of something else? And what could possibly make those whispering calls you hear from time to time? (There is one particular grate low in a wall in the Fairy Glade, where you climb up some moss on a tree, that I always found particularly strange. Where the heck does it lead?)
The world in which this game places us is so foreign that I can’t help but be fascinated by it. Few fictional universes give me such a sense of awe and feel so real to me as this one does. I feel like I’m a part of it. I want to be a part of it. I don’t just want to fight Robo-Pirates and collect Yellow Lums. I want to simply exist in this lovely world Ubisoft has created for us, whose mysteries will never be explained. Which is all for the better. Rayman 2 will never get old, and while the other games can boast a similar level of beauty and detail, none of them feel as mysterious as this one does. None of them fascinate me like Rayman 2. No matter how many times I play this game; no matter how many years go by, it will always hold this certain place in my heart, the part that doesn’t seek to understand, but rather, prefers to relish in the fact that there is still so little we don’t understand. That’s what Rayman 2 means to me. For those of you who have played it, what does this game mean to you?
The Duck Escape
This post was originally published on United We Game on January 12, 2016.