Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Developer: Playtonic Games
Publisher: Team17 Digital Limited
NOTE - A copy of this game was provided to Gaming Instincts by Playtonic Games for review.
Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
is a game made by Playtonic games, which consists of former members of Rareware. The game was made to capture the essence of what platforming collect-a-thons were like back in the days of Banjo-Kazooie
While Yooka Laylee
was a fully-3D exploring title, Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
changes the perspective to a side-scrolling/top-down adventure.
Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair starts off in Capital B's level
where he has taken control of Queen Phoebee's kingdom and Royal Guard and needs players' help. After encountering a fairly hard platforming section, Queen Phoebee grants players the power of her Beetallion, which will protect Yooka and Laylee from multiple hits depending on how many bees are standing. After using this newfound power, Capital wipes the floor with gamers, promptly takes away the powers of the Beetallion, and remains in control of the Bee Kingdom.
With several chapters containing scattered worlds and Big B living comfortably in his "Impossible Lair," Yooka and Laylee must search the missing chapters for the rest of the Beetallion to take on Big B's Impossible Lair.
The story here is a great setup to what players will be experiencing, as they have one impossible lair level they can return to at any time, except that it's pretty difficult without the Beetallion powerup. So, gamers have to go out and find them.
Throughout their adventure, players will go through different worlds while clearing up the overworld so they can freely cross in-between the areas, which are blocked off.
The music in this game is phenomenal. Since Playtonic games houses many composers from the original Rareware, fans can expect to hear some familiar tunes coming from the mind of Grant Kirkhope, one of the original composers for the Banjo Kazooie
That said, just about every level has some really good music. From the watery pillars to the serene nighttime of the jungle, the music accompanying Yooka and Laylee as they traverse the levels are all riveting and provide a lot of personality to the environments. In fact, depending on how players change the level, the theme will change along with the structure of the chapter. Thus, gamers will have quite a few tracks to listen to as they roll over enemies.
Also, the characters speak in "mumblenese," where characters will talk by making Banjo-Kazooie
mumblespeak, which is amusing and reminiscent of the first Yooka Laylee.
The game looks just like it did in the previous Yooka Laylee.
It has bight, popping colors to go along with the challenging platforming. The characters are well-designed, as most of them were from the previous game, meaning there are a lot of familiar faces, from the pants-wearing snake, Trowzer, Vendi the big-faced vending machine that will sell tonics to change how levels are played and miscellaneous talking Pagies. Players will learn to appreciate the Pagies despite them making them complete a challenge.
The world itself also stands out. In the overworld, gamers start near the chapter containing the Impossible Lair near the gutters, but as they head out to explore for other levels, they'll find the world never ceases to surprise them with both the music and interesting locales. From the underground waterways and the poisonous forests, fans will find all sorts of places and puzzles in the overworld.
Even the in-chapter levels have this bit of charm to them with the how the art style and music blends together. However, miscellaneous enemies are distracting. These little minions are all over the place and they litter the levels in inconvenient places, impeding progress. For the most part, players will encounter these guys throughout their adventure, and they have several variations, including flying a jetpack, jump attacks, and those that simply charge. As they do a great job at actually hindering progress, these guys appear almost everywhere with almost no variation until later in the game, which gets annoying.
As side-scroller that is akin to the Donkey Kong
series, where players will run though levels, roll over enemies, and die a lot trying to find all of the secrets in the chapters. In these chapters, players encounter minions, spiders, frogs and other sorts of enemies. Each level has a unique gimmick which gamers will have to utilize to beat them, such as rising pillars of water or grinding on tree vines like Sonic. The gimmicks and platforming can be fun, but the controls themselves and how the levels are designed seem to add even more to the challenge. The level design is basically made to kill players for almost any mistake. Trying to attack in mid-air, pressing down at the wrong moment, losing Laylee to a wrong jump and getting killed after are all part of the challenge. Though controlling Yooka and Laylee seems fun, it's as if the controls get floaty when just trying to move around in the chapters. It also doesn't help that every time Yooka lands he has to skid forward a bit after taking a leap only to slide off the edge.
Of course, many of these hindrances can be fixed with the use of Tonics players can find or buy from Vendi. These tonics have many uses, such as stopping players from losing Laylee after getting hit. What they do and how useful they actually are varies and the effects will cause the quill muiltiplier to go down by one.
The overworld, however, is a different story. Rather than just being an overworld where players move from point A to B, gamers will also be moving around in a 3D environment and solving puzzles to get to the next chapter. One has full control over Yooka and Laylee and will be able to do anything they can in the side-scrolling chapter, such as roll, grab bombs, and move platforms. The only thing players can't do is jump higher than two feet in the air, meaning they'll need to find a lot of platforms to cross many parts of the game.
The overworld is one of the more interesting aspects, because rather than trying to beat a level, gamers are trying to open up the world so they can fully explore it, gathering tonics and quills throughout. This is also the place to meet many characters from the previous game, who will either provide hints, or find more ways for players to do chapters and interact with the overworld.
Yooka Laylee and Impossible Lair
is probably one of the more interesting platformers with a unique setup where the main goal is to beat the supposedly single hardest level in the game. The concept works well since fans are basically building their armor up to defeat Capital B and retake the Bee Kingdom. Unfortunately, the controls feel a bit floaty and off during platforming sections, and the absolute brutality of the game may feel more like a turn-off than an actual challenge at times. The game is good, but a few control issues can easily get in the way of having fun in this challenging adventure.