After a hugely successful kickstarter campaign that generated over £2 million the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie was born, Yooka-Laylee. Now, less than three years later Yooka-Laylee is back in a new spin-off adventure, with some changes to gameplay that still clutch on to games of Banjo’s era.
This time round, levels, or chapters as they’re referred to in this game are played in 2.5D. While the over-world is displayed in an isometric 3D view, this contrast gives you a different experience whilst keeping the main gameplay in tact.
While light on story, it clearly sets up the games events very well. Capital B is back and this time he’s got a new mind control device named the ‘Hive Mind’, which he uses to steal Queen Phoebee’s workers. As Yooka-Layee you must free the captured bees to form a protective shield, the beettalion. Your aim is to then take down Capital B in his Impossible Lair.
The Impossible Lair is exactly what the title suggests, impossible. At least at first. The unique thing about this Lair is that it is accessible at any time in the over-world, most of my first few attempts were fruitless resulting in a swift death and been thrown out of the level. Your aim is to amass an army of bees which act as your shield to help progress, in what has to be the most challenging platforming sections in any game I’ve encountered thus far. I don’t know if it’s possible to beat without the use of the Beettalion, but the game seems to suggest it may be doable, especially for those who have perfected the platforming genre.
Platforming itself feels great, each jump feels weighty, but full of control. Each chapter flows nicely with its ease of navigation, it’s extremely rare you’ll struggle with where to go next. Even with the scattered enemies, pits and other dangerous obstacles you’ll never feel overwhelmed. Hidden areas are there to find, or stumble upon often gifting Yooka-Laylee with some useful collectable items. Each chapter has plenty of collectables to gather up, feathers and T.W.I.T coins being the main and most important to collect. The goal of each chapter will have you rescuing one of the beettalion, stopping you only the way though will be obstacles, insta-death pits and pesky enemies in your way.
The typical humour from Playtonic is back, and while the great use of puns got a chuckle from me its writing is mainly aimed at the younger gamers and may grate on others. Its clever and effective, and didn’t feel overdone but it does sometimes teeter close to been not so family friendly.
Tonics are back in the impossible lair. Distributed by Vendi, each tonic will serve a purpose granting Yooka special abilities. The first one you acquire is named ‘Catchee’ which allows Laylee to stick around more if you take damage. Others such as ‘More checkMates’ will allow each chapter to have an increased number of checkpoints. You have the option to equip three to use in chapters, yet using them may come at a price. Each tonic you use could decrease the amount of feathers collected within each chapter, making it slightly more difficult to unlock more tonics. Some tonics will add to the challenge of the game, which in turn will give you more feathers after each chapter. So choosing the right tonic is vital if you want those feathers. Ultimately it’s up to you if you want to use them, the game is still playable without tonics, but they do allow for some interesting moments should you choose to use them.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair looks gorgeous, the vibrant visuals pop out really well in the chapters, each area is unique with different colours and styles that ensure you don’t feel bored. combine that with soundtrack that matches up with the games themes perfectly, and you’re in for a visual and audio treat.
Yooka-Laylee takes me back to those Crash Bandicoot days of the 90’s, with tight platforming, colourful characters and bright visuals that fill you with glee. It’s a great game that each generation of gamers should be able to find something to like about it. With over 10-hours worth of addicting gameplay to enjoy you’ll have a tremendous time with the chameleon-bat duo, that should leave you with a smile across your face.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*