Yooka-Laylee was originally announced back in 2012 as ex-Rare employees stating that they wanted to make a spiritual successor to the ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ franchise, which was developed by Rare and was a successful, well loved game. Here I am in 2017 ready to bring you my thoughts on this one in my Yooka Laylee review. A game I was very much looking forward to.
The project was Kickstarted in May 2015. It managed to reach its target of £175,000 in just thirty minutes, and is (at the time of writing) the highest funded UK video game in Kickstarter history. Fast-forward to 2017, Playtonic Games finally released Yooka-Laylee, a game which promised to bring back that nostalgic gameplay of its predecessor and to prove that the old gameplay mechanics of our childhoods could still thrive in today’s gaming age.
So, did Yook-Laylee live up to that promise? I will be talking about the goods and the bads of this new buddy-duo adventure, what I liked, and what drove me up the wall. Remember to leave a comment on Facebook or Disqus and share it with your friends to spread the word.
Look and Feel
Starting a new game, nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like a child again. The game is very much reminiscent of older games and all the inspiration was there. I sensed inspiration from many games, like Spyro, Mario, Kameo, etc, and they all seemed to fit nice and snug in the vibrant art style that Yooka-Laylee boasted.
Bright colours are everywhere, and even in the more dull areas, there are bursts of colour here and there with foliage and bright lights. The character designs are also charming, the cute childlike features of the main buddy-duo, the themed side-characters exclusive to each world, even the main villain looks amusingly horrible (in a good way).
The thing that seemed to bring it all down, however, was the camera. The camera feels like your biggest enemy in this game, as it always seems to be fighting you. Getting caught on walls, quickly facing away from where you actually want it to look, and suddenly changing orientation to throw you off and have you caught in a loop as you try to correct your direction only to have it change the camera again and again.
For a game that has platforming and requires well timed jumps, this was a problem, and most of my deaths were the result of the camera quickly switching, causing me to fall off an edge, which became frustrating.
Story and Gameplay
The story is a very basic one, similar to the storytelling style of older games. Yooka and Laylee have finally finished settling into their new home (a very brightly painted pirate shipwreck), and their book is stolen away by the evil corporation, Hivory Towers, who are also stealing away all the books of the world.
It’s up to Yooka and Laylee to stop them, their leader ‘Capital B’, and most importantly, to get their book back. It’s not exactly the most memorable story, as halfway through I forgot what it was in the first place.
The Mario inspiration was apparent when the game revealed to me that certain books contain worlds, and to get to these worlds you have to jump in their respective books. Super Mario 64 and paintings, anyone? There is no voice acting, the subtitles are accompanied by squeaks or grunts or whatever the sounds that whoever (or whatever) you’re talking to makes.
Yooka is the more mature responsible character, while Laylee is snappy and sassy, and this sass makes for very humorous dialogue. The fourth wall is regularly broken by the entertaining script, for example, I chose an incorrect answer during a quiz and was asked how I got it wrong when all the answers were on the internet.
The game is a major collect-a-thon, most of your time will be spent trying to get pagies and quills to unlock and upgrade the different worlds as well as your own skills. On top of that, other collectibles include ghost writers, mollycools, ‘play tonics’, which can change certain things about your gameplay, and play coins. Play coins unlock arcade games which can be played by finding an arcade machine in the different worlds, visiting Rextros (a little 64-bit dinosaur) Arcade in the hub world, or from selecting it from the main menu in the home screen.
To beat a world boss and essentially ‘complete’ that world, you will have to collect the required amount of pagies to expand a world, and then find where the boss is in the new areas added to defeat it. A certain boss I faced was INFURIATING, and in the end I had to have a friend do it for me lest I murder my TV. Just like old games, right!?
The gameplay felt smooth and responsive, and I had no framerate issues whatsoever. Running around each world felt fun and adventurous, and coming across environmental puzzles fueled my sense of childlike discovery and the excitement of finding secrets.
As you progress in the game, you get more moves which allow you to fly, walk under water, and, ahem, roll around at the speed of sound (well not quite, but they made a reference to it so damn it, I will too). These all feel natural and you’ll be finding yourself using all of the powers and moves given to you all the time after getting them, no power goes to waste. Secrets in other worlds become available to you after getting certain powers too, so it always pays to revisit previously unlocked worlds.
Yooka-Laylee is a cute little game that really tries to modernize old mechanics of old open world platformers, but unfortunately falls short. An overwhelming amount of collectibles and a crummy camera turns what should be a sweet throwback to nostalgic games into a disappointing experience that can be more aggravating than fun.
I really wanted to love Yooka-Laylee, and when not faced with these problems I did, but they occurred way too often for me to ignore. If you’re a fan of collect-a-thons and want that nostalgic feeling and don’t mind a bothersome camera, then you might get more enjoyment out of this game than most people, however, you won’t be missing out on much if you choose not to play it.
About This Yooka Laylee Review
Developers & Publishers: Playtonic, Team 17
Gaming Platform: PC Games, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Indie Games, Platform & Puzzle
Yooka Laylee Verdict
Graphics - 7/10
Story - 5/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Fun Factor - 7/10