Wot I Think: Rayman Oranges

By Alec Meer on March 30th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.


Rayman: Origins Oranges, the latter-day reboot of the Rayman platform series, made its way to PC yesterday, which was happy news for anyone who picked up on the surprising critical buzz around last year’s console versions. I’ve been bounding through the singleplayer, though have yet to try the co-op multiplayer mode. Here = words.

I’ve pinballed from outright glee to making a pathetic whimpering noise like a dog locked inside a cupboard while playing the resolutely 2D reboot of venerable platformer Rayman, but the glee always returns. It is, especially in its initial zones, a purely joyful experience, showering its player with visual and interactive gifts like a weirdo French Santa. While the visual tomfoolery never ceases – angry mutant oranges, giant forks with the demeanour of a scolding fishwife – it’s nonetheless a precision jumping game that isn’t afraid to inflict suffering.

One of the many ways in which Rayman Oranges charms me silly is that it doesn’t make a lick of sense, nor does it even try to. The plot – a race of particularly grumpy undead raise hell because they’re narked about the music Rayman and chums play – is just the loosest of framing devices, an excuse for a parade of cartoon sights that only those who’ve spent a lifetime hepped up on goofballs could possibly predict.

Amazingly, I note someone on Wikipedia has carefully and humourlessly summarised the story. The idea of someone feeling compelled to do that, as if it’s something that anyone would want to find out about, floors me. This is a game about joyfully. crazy stuff happening for no reason.

It finds itself a comfortable place between impressively inventive and gratingly wacky, and very rarely tips into the latter. Nor does it become obtusely odd: its aim is to delight, not to show off. You can’t argue with the craftsmanship here. Much like visiting John Walker’s sex dungeon, there’s always a strange new monster or a happy song for no reason or a giant school of fish or a rope made of chillis around the corner.

Never having been much of a Mario The Hedgehog kind of a guy (I was too busy with my X-COMs and Syndicates, thank you very much), there’s a significant part of me which wishes Rayman wasn’t a straight-up platformer. It front-loads all manner of dicking around in the environment without too much risk, but as it wears on it somehow devolves into thoroughly traditional jumping puzzles while simultaneously piling on new abilities such as shrinking, hovering and swimming.

I think it’s the unpredictability that makes it surprisingly tricky to master: it’s not actually a matter of perfecting jump skills, but of simultaneously pulling off your leaps while traversing a busy, changeable environment and performing knee-jerk hovers and slam attacks. Never mind Assassin’s Creed 3 – if you can manage to usefully control Rayman Oranges on a keyboard you’re a better PC gamer than I. I couldn’t get anywhere without a gamepad.

That said, if you’re not of a mind to be a completist, or even to complete the game, sailing through without collecting all the pick-ups is more straightforward. Once I admitted to myself that trying to 100% levels was beyond my patience and just got on with getting to the exit and enjoying the spectacle, some of the early flow, that delightful chain reaction of mad, colourful chaos, returned.

Play Rayman on your own terms, not from fear that you won’t be able to unlock all the characters and bonus areas, and it’s relatively frustration-free. But if you are from that Super Meatboy school of challenge-fever, you’ll probably get more out of this than you might imagine. It doesn’t have that consciously punishing urgency and you won’t be able to make YouTube videos that people stare at in amazement before erecting a shrine in honour of your incredible skill at pressing the A button, but it certainly has an echelon of added difficulty if you want it.

We mere mortals will have to settle for a slow trickle of new playable characters unlocked as the game wears on, but really they’re only visually-tweaked variations on a theme, and are mostly references I don’t recognise to the early Rayman games. It’s a sweet little treat to get a guy with a different coloured coat or a hat covered in stars every couple of levels though, as one downside of the paper-thin plot is that there’s no real sense of purpose beyond ‘get to the next level.’

Knowing how many thingies you need to collect to access the next character/costume is a reason to keep on. Mostly, though, the reason to keep on is just to see what on Earth it’s going to show you next. Every time I was convinced the whole thing had worn thing for me and I’d stop after the next level, it seemed to sense it and dump something new and ridiculous on me, winning back my faith for a few more minutes.

It is, ultimately, a traditional platformer in the early 90s mould, but made with a knowingness of how absurd the whole affair is plus the sort of visual polish that the tech of the time could never have mustered. Its clear desire to be bold and be memorable keeps its head far above the waters of hollow nostalgia, and any question of ‘why is this on PC?’ entirely moot.

It’s only that it’s called ‘Rayman’ that makes this at all odd. A rose by any another name might smell a little sweeter, but don’t let the series’ divisive heritage put you off what is a massively rewarding and celebratory platformer in its own right.

Plus there’s no DRM (outside of whatever download service you grab it from). How about that?

Rayman: Origins is out on PC now, at retail, on Steam and the UbiShop.

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97 Comments »

  1. Flukie says:

    Fantastic game, love it on my Vita.

    Will love playing 2 player on the PC too. I hope it sells well to get a sequel.

    • rockman29 says:

      Can I haz your Vita?

    • surv1vor says:

      I’ve got this on my Vita too, excellent game. I do wish that their was some pc equivalent of the Vita, I feel like a bit of a traitor buying into the toybox world.

  2. Tiax says:

    “it doesn’t make a lick of sense, nor does it even try to. The plot – a race of particularly grumpy undead raise hell because they’re narked about the music Rayman and chums play –”

    It’s even more crazy, they’re not playing music but snorring like hell.

  3. narcodis says:

    This game might be the most brilliant 2D platformer released in the last decade or so. So so so good.

    • VoEC says:

      Second that. Everything in Rayman: Origins is great: Visuals, controls, design and of course the audio.
      I love the soundtrack. Did anyone already played the water stages? (the ones where you’re really deep down?) Might be the most amazing piece I have ever heard in a game.

  4. Blackcompany says:

    So, you’re offering to citrus all down and tell us WOT you think?

    • narcodis says:

      Fruit puns must be a limey thing.

    • Trillby says:

      What’s tomato with you guys? Don’t you know this will only get a pun thread going?

    • Brun says:

      Pun threads always drive me bananas.

    • Soapeh says:

      Pipped to the post.

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      X_kot says:

      That’s the last straw! These pun threads always rasp on my nerves and leave me blue in the face! How could you, Blackcompany? I expect this sort of thing from The Gooseking, but not you. I’m berry disappointed!

    • Antsy says:

      I’m buying this, kumquat may!

    • ColOfNature says:

      We can rely on the mandarins at RPS to keep us informed, kumquat may.

      Edit: dammit, Antsy!

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      I found the story rather melon choly, even though the pear of central protangynists live appley ever after.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      Orange you glad I didn’t do fruit pun?

    • ColOfNature says:

      All this punnery – I think it’s a symptom of something, a disease of some kind. Neurophysalis, maybe.

  5. Maldomel says:

    Now how about a Wot I think of John Walker’s sex dungeon?

  6. Teronfel says:

    Rayman Oranges? lol

  7. Dowr says:

    “You’ve got to hand it to him” Oh! I get it! Do I get a award?

  8. Carwash says:

    This doesn’t support a controller on the PC? :(

    • Dominic White says:

      Yes it does. And even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be an issue as the game uses really simple digital controls anyway, so you could bind any gamepad to it in about 30 seconds using Joy2Key.

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      LTK says:

      Of course it does, Alec is saying that it’s really hard to play competently without one. I can even attest to that, and I’ve only played the demo.

    • Iskhiaro says:

      The controller support works really well, and actually allows you to use something other than a 360 controller for once…

      • rockman29 says:

        Yep, great controller support. You can pretty much assign any functions of your controller (like buttons and sticks and other doohickies) to any controls for the game :)

      • LionsPhil says:

        Good lord, use Window’s grand old Game Controllers abstraction, rather than just assume all the world has the same one like in the DOS era where it was Gravis Gamepad or bust? Madness!

    • Carwash says:

      Good, it’s not listed as being compatible with a controller on Steam.. I guess they’re not kept 100% accurate..

  9. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    Has anyone tried buying this from the UbiShop? Although their prices seem surprisingly reasonable compared to other online distributors, I’m extremely hesitant to give them my money directly. Without a middle-man in between I’m kind of afraid they’ll bite off my hand before I’ve let go of the bills. Any nightmare tales from there?

  10. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    The sound design is also gorgeous.

    This is the bestest thing ever. That’s wot I think.

  11. povu says:

    Well done Ubisoft, that’s your first controversial-free game release in a while.

    • Flavioli says:

      Kinda sorta. Some people were a little ticked at how poorly they marketed the game initially, and at the rather reckless decision to release it at the same time as AC, along with the maelstrom of other popular releases in the market, including MW3. Props on no DRM for PC though!

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Edit – it’s DRM free? Ah.

        On the one hand I want to support things being DRM free, on the other my dislike of Ubisoft is only partially due to DRM. They’re a shitty company who clearly aren’t interested in their customers with DRM being one example of it – the gaming world would be a better place if Ubisoft went bust and the creative people working there went elsewhere.

  12. Scrooge says:

    Divisive heritage? The first few games are pretty good, or has that rabbit nonsense really ruined the Rayman name?

    Also, I like how Rayman himself isn’t in any of these screenshots.

    • jonfitt says:

      Yes, that was my first thought. Isn’t the titular hero, a blonde thing with a Gallic proboscis? he doesn’t seem to feature here. What gives?

      • QualityJeverage says:

        Rayman himself is the main character in the game, and he’s who you play as by default. There are just lots of alternate skins to unlock (They all play the same). Seems all the screenshots in this article feature said alternate characters/skins, for whatever reason.

  13. Jad says:

    So supposedly the PC retail version is DRM free, so I’d like that version, to show support and because I haven’t gotten a box copy of a game recently and this seems like a nice one to have.

    However, how do i get it? I’m in the US, and its not on Amazon, Gamestop’s website, or even the UBIShop itself. All of those sites only seem to be selling the download version.

    By “retail” do they really mean that I have to go into a brick-and-mortar store to get it? Does Gamestop ever sell boxes of games that they do not put on their website? I don’t really want to waste my time going to the store if they’re not going to sell it.

  14. Khemm says:

    Looks like all those people who yelled “get rid of DRM and we’ll buy your games, Ubi” were full of shit. What a surprise, an extremely vocal minority “forgetting” to put their money where their mouths are.
    Rayman currently occupies 7th spot on Steam sales charts, it’s being beaten even by Modern Warfare 3. I recall other games launching on Steam selling much better, even those with third party online activation checks, Ubi titles included.

    Good job, you’re proving this industry how “viable” DRM-free models are. Keep posting bullshit on RPS, letting the world know how much you hate copy protection models, I’m SURE everyone will listen.

    • Oof says:

      You do realise Ubisoft has a lot of grovelling to do, right? One DRM-free game isn’t going to redeem them. Plus, Ubisoft have been doing DRM for so long that people probably expect this to come with DRM, too, and react appropriately.

      • Khemm says:

        So what you’re telling me people are monkeys who can’t read and make proper decisions? So there are companies which can do no wrong and those which will never ever be forgiven?
        Wow.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Hey, posting bullshit on RPS works for you.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Wait, did Khemm just call a game on Steam “DRM-free”?

      • Khemm says:

        No? The Steam version has no additional DRM, which means all those Steam fanboys constantly complaining about such things on Steam boards have no reason to bitch right now. Looks like it isn’t enough for them to actually BUY the game.

    • Zyrocz says:

      1. Rayman Origins is not a mainstream game, that’s probably the only reason why they didn’t use UBIdrm to begin with, therefore it will not sell as good as mainstream games.
      2. This game has been out on consoles since november and Vita since february, ofcourse a lot of people who would have bought it on PC have already gotten it on a console because they were unaware of a PC release in the future, or they didn’t want to wait.
      3. There are other digital distributors then Steam.

      • Khemm says:

        1. I’ve seen non-mainstream games skyrocketing to number 1 spot on Steam charts on release day.
        2. OK, good point, but I recall even a few months-late-ports performing a lot better.
        3. Steam controls 80% of the dd market, if it sells like crap there, it sells like crap everywhere.

        Don’t be surprised if all publishers look at what Ubi is doing right now and come to the conclusion: “looks like those whiners are full of shit and the lack of DRM doesn’t improve sales AT ALL”.
        Guess what, they won’t be wrong, I’m afraid.

        • Mattressi says:

          It’s an old-school platformer that costs $39.99 (well, here in Australia – in the US, it’s a slightly-more agreeable $29.99). You honestly expect this to sell well? For sure, non-mainstream games have sold well before. And guess what? They had NO DRM TOO. The difference was that they cost half as much as Rayman: Origins. I’m not saying that the game isn’t worth that much to some, but to me, it isn’t.

          Another big difference is that non-mainstream developers get a lot of good will from the community. Ubi releasing a game in their territory, when so many hate Ubi right now, then pricing it much higher than similar games, really isn’t a good way to sell lots. And all this after the game’s been out for ages.

          It really amuses me that you think that people who dislike DRM should buy every overpriced game that Ubi sends their way, simply because they’ve been gracious enough to not include DRM. I have a huge backlog of indie games and I really just don’t need to pay $39.99 to get more of the same.

      • Guvornator says:

        It IS, or at least was marketed as being, a mainstream game – it was Ubisoft’s big Christmas hope after all. Any attempt to rebrand it as “niche” is a reaction to to it’s utterly tragic sales obliteration, nothing more. Not that I’m complaining, it’s a full price console game released half price for us PCers. It would be nice if it got some love over here.

    • SipNico says:

      So being the 7th most sold game on Steam means it’s doing badly… Wow Khemm, you really had high expectations.

      • Dominic White says:

        7th is pretty bad, considering that Ys: Oath in Felghana launched straight into #1, overtaking even the daily sale items. That’s far more niche than an ultra-high-budget Ubisoft platformer.

        Word is that it sold pretty badly on consoles, too. For some reason, nobody wants to buy it despite glowing reviews everywhere.

        • SipNico says:

          I can almost assure you that Rayman: Origins has already sold enough to cover the cost of porting it to PC, because of the engine which it uses. So what if a niche title was #1 on the sales chart? Does that mean every other title behind it sold badly?

        • Guvornator says:

          The reason it sold pish on the console was Ubisoft’s classic “let’s put out an amazing but eccentric games that is swimming against the current taste at the EXACT moment that two titans of franchises go head to head”. Poor old Rayman was crushed by Battlefield and Modern Warfare’s set too. Which everyone apart from Ubisoft twigged ahead of time.They have a bit of form in this area, to the extent of crushing their own game (Beyond Good & Evil) with another bugger one (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time). This is a bit of a shame as, DRM issues aside, Ubsoft are IMHO the only BIG developer capable of magic and imagination in videogaming .

      • Khemm says:

        I want Ubi to go back to their DRM-free policy from Prince of Persia 2008 days, because while they’re using very light DRM right now no different to what EA or Valve are doing (if not less intrusive imo), no DRM I’ll always be more happy about than “some” DRM.

        It looks like the group bitching about copy protection here or on Steam boards (the irony) is actually veeery small.

        • Premium User Badge

          LTK says:

          I hardly believe that should be surprising. A mass-marketed game like Assassin’s Creed attracts a massive number of people who are willing to take shit from Ubisoft regarding DRM. On the other hand, what have you heard about Rayman’s PC release, outside of RPS? Not much I’d wager. There are no retailers putting cardboard cutouts of Rayman in their shop windows, and no magazine features on the PC version.

          Face it, the masses are ignorant. It applies to PC gamers just as well as it does to gamers in general. The number of PC gamers who know enough about publisher practices to wisely vote with their wallet is no match for Ubisoft’s marketing department, or lack thereof.

        • deke913 says:

          I hate DRM, and try to be vocal about it. But I will not buy the game because I am an rpg nut and have no interest in platform games. (aside from Psychonauts) You have to take into account that spending money on a game just to say I support no DRM is not an option for some of us. I needs my moneys.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      They couldn’t possibly be different people, right? I mean, that’d be crazy.

      Or y’know, they mean “I’ll buy the games I actually want from you” not *all* the games they ever release.

      But then, are there large amounts of them thus causing the game not to sell well or small amounts of them moaning? You appear to have trouble making up your mind, Khemm.

    • Premium User Badge

      SpakAttack says:

      Hang on a minute – a lack of DRM simply moves this title from the ‘I won’t buy it, even if I like the look of it’ category, to the ‘I might buy it, if I like the look of it’ category.

      Just because it doesn’t have UbiDRM certainly doesn’t automatically qualify it as must-purchase – they have to make it work as a title too. We’re not full of shit – we just haven’t let our stand on DRM blind us to everything else…

      Perhaps if you want to advance the cause, you could let Ubisoft know how you feel directly, rather than trying to bully other gamers into buying a game just because it doesn’t have UbiDRM?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Khemm, I think today’s sales will be a little bit higher if Russia could buy this game via Steam, but unfortunately the game isn’t available in Russia.

    • Tams80 says:

      Errrmm, if someone really meant that they would only buy it without DRM, then they’d only get the retail version, which obviously wouldn’t show up on the Steam chart. Afterall, Steam is DRM, even if you think it’s great. Oh, and the Steam charts aren’t definitive by any shot; take the Witcher 2 for example.

      Myself? I just ordered the retail version, as I said to myself I’d get it if it’s DRM free and low and behold it is. I was also looking forward to this game because it looks fun. So I bought it. Good enough for you?

    • Delusibeta says:

      There’s more factors at play. The primary factor is how old the game is and how I’d wager most of the people on here who wanted to buy it have already bought it for a console funbox (myself included: I’ve got the Vita version. Aside from the lack of multiplayer, it is mint). The secondary factor is that you can get the game on aforementioned funboxes for a good £5 cheaper than the £20 asking price and thirdly £20 is outside the impulse buy zone. I’m happy to drop a tenner on Ys, but I’m not going to pay £20 for a game I already own (and bought originally for less, thanks to the magic of console bundle deals).

    • Mordsung says:

      Ever consider that PC players may not be willing to put down 30 bucks for a 2D scoller?

      I’ll buy it… later, on sale.

      • Flavioli says:

        I bought it full price, 60 dollars, when it got released for Wii. I can only think of a handful of games for which I’ve gotten more bang for my buck, seriously. This is a top-notch 2D platformer.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Did you ever consider that people boycotting Ubi may not be at all interested in Rayman: Origins?

      You’re kinda thick.

    • Thants says:

      Yes, one kind-of-expensive kind-of-niche game with less DRM isn’t the top selling game on Steam therefore everyone complaining about DRM is full of crap. You are the master of logic!

      • Premium User Badge

        AndrewC says:

        It costs a lot less than most new major publisher releases. Don’t overplay your argument, it makes you look dishonest.

        • Thants says:

          I did say kind-of. Maybe I’m just used to 2D platform games being $10 indies, which isn’t necessarily fair.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    “Never having been much of a Mario The Hedgehog kind of a guy (I was too busy with my X-COMs and Syndicates, thank you very much) [...]”

    Those are actually not mutually exclusive, you know.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Alec’s written about his background before, which is basically “PC”. If you just owned a PC, it pretty much was exclusive.

      Viva la Amiga, etc.

      KG

  16. archagon says:

    This is one of the best games I’ve ever played. Holy cow is it good.

  17. LennyLeonardo says:

    Agreed! I loves it. It makes my fingers hurt like those old games I remember from when I was little.

    The Land of the Livid Dead is bastard hard, but so much fun. And what about the treasure chest chases, and the lantern fish and the… and the…

    Edit: this was meant to be in reply to the fellow above, but I was too excited to do computing properly.

  18. Suits says:

    Thanks for bringing Rayman back to PC in glorious non-DRM Ubisoft. Bought the first three and will get this on as well.

  19. terry says:

    Gorgeous game and a joy to play. Also coincidentally the first Ubisoft game I’ve bought since forever (infinite thanks to whoever decided to not DRM this into oblivion).

  20. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Decent enough 2D platformer. Still nowhere near as good as Rayman2 + 3 on PC though they are masterpieces. At least the price is right on this as well as no DRM for once (not even UPLAY). Amazon.co.uk is the cheapest right now its under £15 & no DVD check either.

    Gotta love the irony that on console this sold very poorly as noway to stop used copies being traded as no DRM inplace so Ubisoft then bring it to PC DRM free in an attempt to try & recover some of the substantial loses this must have generated!! 2D artwork like this is very expensive to generate due to the salaries of the animators.

    More publishers need to wake up & smell the coffee that if you bring your decent game to PC with little to no DRM it will sell there are so many console only games which would do well on PC I hope this is the first of many more to come!!

    • Guvornator says:

      I think it was more the fact that it was crushed beneath the two imagination deficient “war is fun, look SPLODES!” franchises.

  21. Filthius says:

    This game is for the anyone who considers themselves an oldskool gamer, if you grew up with your commodore 64′s and NES’s , buy this game you will love it.

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      jrodman says:

      I grew up with my atari2600, c64, and the NES systems of my friends. I didn’t like this.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        You didn’t… like… wha? You are joking, surely?

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          It might have worked on a gamepad, but on a keyboard the introductory experience was just god-awful.

          Press S to attack, I was told. Well how about jump? What else can I do? Can I double jump? Can I do anything else? Which of the more-than-one-hundred keys on my keyboard should I be smashing to figure out what to do?

          Just terrible.

          After that I found the very first level to be far too finicky and hard to control. Again, maybe this would have worked better on a gamepad, but overall the game seemed to think I certainly MUST have already played some other game that taught me exactly what to do. There was no introducing of concepts, there was just repeated failure while I didn’t know what I could or should do.

          This is not a game design pattern I’m willing to tolerate anymore. I put up with it from 1985 to 1993 or so, but I’m quite happy to have it in the rear view mirror, and I’m not inclined to give money to those who aren’t aware of the sea change.

  22. ScottHarrigan says:

    The Game is a bit deeper than “random stuff happens for no reason.” What is extremely unique about this game is that it portrays a truly alien world with a very rich mythology. The creatures do not really speak any language people can comprehend, but much is revealed through gestures and facial expressions. There are plenty of fascinating creatures and images to interpret in this world. This game does not reveal as much as the second game did with its lum collection giving you a wealth of knowledge about the world, but it continues on the idea that the entire world is just the creative dream of their “God.” There is simply a lack of explicit story; it is not so much told as it is experienced and interpreted.

    Everything said about the game play, controls, and graphics is dead on. What do you think of the string of downloadable platform and side scrolling games that have come out in recent years?

    http://www.videodetective.com/games/insanely-twisted-shadow-planet/561515

    It’d be interesting to hear interpretations of the images in this game.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Tunips says:

    I seem to be in a minority, but I found it MUCH easier with a keyboard. Possibly this is an artefact of growing up on a 386, rather than a SNES.

  24. Flavioli says:

    I got the game because I enjoyed playing New Super Mario Brothers Wii and DKC Returns with my girlfriend in 2-player co-op. I was not expecting to enjoy the game as much as I did though. Hold crap is this game amazing. To me the game outshines any of the other platformers for the new-gen consoles by a long-shot. I’d even say it’s at par, if not better, than the SNES platformers I grew up with as a kid.

    What makes this game especially shine is that the level design is brilliant. The majority of levels are designed to be played in three ways: running through casually, looking for well-hidden lums, or racing thru in speed mode. Surprisingly, every level plays beautifully and smoothly in all styles; it’s especially pleasant to glide smoothly through the well-designed levels in speed runs. The final level, Land of The Livid Dead, flows so smoothly that it’s almost musical. Heck, some levels even integrate the sound effects of the lums you collect with the pace at which you are expected to move and the music in the background, most notably in the second world. Such perfect level design.

    As far as gaming goes, this game is pure art, of the good kind. This is the type of game I’ve been hoping for years to see, and it’s utterly soul-crushing that it sold so poorly and got such little attention. To me, it indicates that this is just what the consumer *doesn’t* want. Which really sucks because I’d honestly pay over 200 for a sequel. Sigh.

  25. archagon says:

    Word of warning: there’s a nasty bug where your save file can get deleted or corrupted. It happened to me, but fortunately I was able to recover it. Don’t let it happen to you — back up your saves!

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2624501

  26. gregsaw says:

    As time passes, I love this game more and more. I wish more people played it