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 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 and Banjo-Tooie. Well while Yooka Laylee was a fully-3D exploring title the new game, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible lair changes a bit of perspective and is changed to a side-scrolling/top-down adventure. Well do these new changes hinder the platforming experience of Yooka Laylee as a whole? We’ll give you our Final verdict.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair starts off in Capital B’s level where he has taken control Queen Phoebee’s kingdom and Royal guard and needs your help. After encountering a fairly hard platforming section, Queen Phoebee grants you the power of her Beetallion which will protect Yooka and Laylee from multiple hits depending on how many bees are standing. Well after using this newfound power, Capital wipes the floor with you and promptly takes away the powers of the Beetallion and remains in control of the Bee Kingdom.
Well now with several scattered chapters containing worlds scattered around and Big B living comfortably in his “Impossible Lair” Yooka and Laylee must search the missing chapters for the rest of the Beetallion in order to take on Big B’s Impossible Lair.
The story here is a great setup to what you’ll be experiencing from the game, you have one impossible lair level you can return to at any time, except that it’s pretty difficult without the Beetallion powerup, so you have to go out and find them to help you out.
Throughout your adventure you’ll go through different worlds while clearing up the overworld so you can freely cross in-between the areas, since they’re all blocked off.
The music in this game is absolutely phenomenal. Since Playtonic games houses many composers from the original Rareware, you can expect to hear some familiar tunes coming from the mind of Grant Kirkhope, one of the original composers for the original Banjo Kazooie Series.
With that being said, just about every level has some really good music. From the watery pillars, to the serene nighttime of the jungle, the music accompanying you as Yooka and Laylee traverse the levels are all so good and provide a lot of personality to the areas you’re playing in. In fact, depending on how you change the level, which we’ll get to later, the theme will change along with the structure of the chapter, so you’ll have quite a few tracks to listen to as you roll over the enemies.
Also, the characters speak in this mumblenese in which characters will talk by making Banjo-Kazooie mumblespeak, and it’s pretty interesting hearing how everybody speaks and what they’re all about. Talking is just like it was in the first Yooka-Laylee, so if you’re a fan of that, that’s here.
The game looks just like it did in the previous Yooka-Laylee. It’s got bight, popping colors to go along with the challenging platforming. The characters are pretty well-designed as most of them were from the previous game, so you’ll see a lot of familiar faces. You’ve got the pants-wearing snake, Trowzer, Vendi the big-faced vending machine that will sell you tonics to change how levels are played and miscellaneous talking Pagies. You’ll learn to appreciate the Pagies despite them making you do a challenge.
The world itself also stands out, in the overworld, you start near the chapter containing the Impossible Lair near the gutters, but as you head out to explore for other levels, you’ll find that the world never ceases to surprise me with both the music, and how interesting the locales are. From the underground waterways and the poisonous forests, you’ll find all sorts of places and puzzles in the overworld that is pretty good to look at.
Even the in-chapter levels have this bit of charm to them with the how the art style and music blends so well together. The only thing that distracts me are the miscellaneous enemies. These little meanyions are all over the place and they litter the levels in inconvenient places, impeding your progress. For the most part, you’ll be encountering these guys throughout your adventure and they have several variations including flying a jetpack, jumping over attacks, and those that simply walk towards you. As they do a great job at actually impeding on your progress, these guys appear almost everywhere with almost no variation until later on in the game which gets pretty annoying to see.
Let’s start with how the gameplay with the chapters work. It’s a side-scroller that is akin to the Donkey Kong series where you’ll run though levels, roll over enemies, and die a lot trying to find all of the secrets in the chapters. In these chapters you’ll encounter meanyions, spiders, frogs and other sorts of enemies. Each level has a unique gimmick in which you’ll 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 you for almost any mistake, try to attack in mid-air, pressing down on 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 that he has to skid forward a bit after taking a leap only to slide off the edge.
Of course many of these hinderances can be fixed with the use of Tonics that you can find or buy from Vendi, these tonics do many things from stopping you from losing Laylee after getting hit, or have a big head. What they do and how useful they actually are do vary and the effects will cause your quill muiltiplier to go down by one, so make sure you have the abilities you need for the level.
The overworld however is a different story, rather than just being an overworld where you just move from point A to B, you’ll also actually be moving around in a 3d environment and solving puzzles to get to the next chapter you’ll complete. You have full control over Yooka and Laylee and you’ll be able to do anything you could in the side-scrolling chapter such as roll, grab bombs and move platforms. The only thing you can’t do is jump higher than two feet in the air, meaning that you’ll need to find a lot of platforms in order to cross many parts of the game.
The overworld is actually one of the more interesting parts of the game because rather than trying to beat a level, you’re trying to open up the world so you can fully explore it, gathering tonics and quills as you go through it. This is also the place where you’ll meet many characters of the previous game who will either give you hints, or find more ways for you to do chapters and interact with the overworld.
Yooka-Laylee and the impossible is probably one of the more interesting platformers with a unique setup where your main goal is to beat the supposedly single hardest level in the game. I think the concept works well since you’re basically building your armor up to actually 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. For this reason I give Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair, a 7.5. The game is good, but a few control issues can easily get in the way of having fun in this challenging adventure.