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In the Glade of Dreams, a world created by the mysterious Bubble Dreamer, Rayman his best friend Globox, and some Teensy friends (the Grand Minimus and Goth Caster) are chilling out at the Bubble Dreamer's resting grounds, the Snoring Tree. However, their snoring disturbs an old granny from the Land of the Livid Dead, who retaliates by sending an evil army of horrendous creatures and the Darktoons across the world, capturing the Electoons that inhabit the world, imprisoning Betilla the Nymph and her sisters, and plunging the Glade into chaos. As a result, the ensuing disaster causes the Bubble Dreamer to have nightmares, allowing Rayman's nemesis Mr. Dark to escape the Land of the Livid Dead.
Althought they are captured, Rayman and his friends are able to escape the Darktoons. They are then tasked by a Caster Teensy known as the Magician with gathering enough Electoons to cure the Bubble Dreamer and restore the Glade of Dreams. Their efforts to locate the Electoons allow them to gain access to the various lands of the Glade. Eventually, they make their way to a stargate that the Nymphs are unable to open. It is then revealed that in order to open the stargate, Rayman and company must first rescue the kings of the Glade, who have been turned into Darktoon versions of themselves by Mr. Dark.
Upon freeing the Glade Kings, the Nymphs are able to open the stargate, granting Rayman access to Mr. Dark's hideout in the land of Moody Clouds. Unfortunately, once they arrive, they discover that the Magician is, in fact, Mr. Dark. During a fever-pitch chase where they defeat mechanical versions of the first two Darktoon bosses and pursue Mr. Dark through his now-crumbling lair, the four hop on a Moskito and three Bzzzts to combat Mr. Dark's getaway vehicle.
Upon his defeat, Mr. Dark unsuccessfully tries to stop his vehicle from puncturing the power source for the hideout. The resulting chain of events causes the hideout to explode, which (supposedly) sends Mr. Dark and the Darktoons back to the Land of the Livid Dead, while Rayman and friends free-fall back to the Snoring Tree, where they proceed to resume their chilling out.
An in-game subplot involves locating ten ruby teeth for the guardian of the Dead Door, the entrance to the Land of the Livid Dead. Upon gaining entry, Rayman is forced through a veritable gauntlet of obstacles to locate a missing Nymph who Mr. Dark has turned into a Darktoon. Upon completing the mission, Rayman is thanked by the Nymph, who states that her experiences were "a nightmare".
Rayman: Origins's gameplay is focused on jumping, gliding, slapping and climbing. Enemies and obstacles are either deftly avoided or quickly dealt with and include some familiar elements from Rayman and Rayman 2. However, there are also levels that focus on side-scrolling shooter action. At the end of each level, Rayman (or whomever the player chooses to be) will free some Electoons from a cage, though there are often multiple cages hidden throughout the level. Additional Electoons may also be earned when the player collects enough Lums. The collection of Electoons unlocks playable characters and additional levels. The co-op gameplay is mostly non-hostile, though the players can slap each other. Up to four players can play together in a "hop-in/hop-out" fashion.