Yooka Laylee was supposed to be a Kickstarter success story. While it was far from the release of Mighty No 9 it didn’t quite reignite the love of 3d Collectathon genre like fans wanted it to. Playtonic games are giving it another go with this latest release but changing the formula, is it a success or will it be too rare for Yooka Laylee?.
Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair decides to do away with the 3D Collectathon of the original and tackle the world of 2.5d platformers, much like the Donkey Kong Country games which is by far where the biggest inspiration shines through in this title.
Yooka & Laylee are fighting Capital B with the help of Queen Bee and her Beetallion, Capital B quickly retreats into his Impossible Lair followed by Y&L but missing the Beetallion after a boss fight. You won’t last long in this aptly named lair and are soon given the task to find the Beetallion as they provide help to you in your task to tackle the Impossible Lair.
Now there is a fantastic aspect to this in that if you are godlike or have seen it before, it is possible to finish the Lair without any of the Beetallion, much like the choice to fight Ganon in BoTW. This is a huge addition for speed runners and masochists alike.
Another aspect of this means you can tailor that last level to your own difficulty. At any point in the game you can tackle the Lair depending on how brave you are feeling.
Visually Yooka Laylee & The Impossible Lair is a stunning little title and doesn’t hold anything back from its 3D prequel. It easily compares to the more recent AAA 2.5d platformers such as Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze which seems to be the main inspiration for this title. I didn’t spot any frame rate issues throughout my time on the title and the only way it didn’t stack up was the rather barren and stationary backgrounds.
On the audio side of things Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair isn’t slouching either. The voice acting remains the same kind of animal grunts and noises with Trowzer sounds especially suspect!. The music on offer here is a collection of infectious little ear worms where they don’t quite stack as high as the classics they suit the game perfectly and you won’t complain about them after trying the levels over and over again.
On the gameplay front, Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair is a game of two halves, one being a 2.5d platformer and the other being a top down Zelda-lite puzzler.
The platforming levels make up the bulk of the game and I’m more than happy to report that they are perfect. They control brilliantly, tight and offer quite a reasonable challenge throughout. If you take a hit you’ll lose Laylee which only gives you one more hit and less abilities, you can get her back by either catching up to her or ringing a bell which brings her back instantly.
You can tailor your game by finding Tonics in the hub world (more on that later) the Tonics can either make the game easier, harder or just change the cosmetics, all this does is affect your Quill total multiplier at the end of the stage.
Another brilliant feature of Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair is that you can alter stages and completely change the layout of the stages through interactions in the hub world. Change a factory to a water level, sunny level to ice and so forth, it’s always a pleasure to revisit stages in a totally different layout.
As mentioned previously, the hub world in Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair could also stand as it’s own game. Feeling much like a classic top down Zelda you’ll be solving puzzles and fighting enemies while progressing in the world to find more platforming stages and tonics. It’s rare to see just how much effort has gone into the hub world and it’s oozing with all the charm that won people over with the originals kickstarter.
The only real caveat with this game is the fact you need to find the hidden coins in the platforming stages, you need these to progress by giving them to Trowzer as part of his playfully named “paywalls”. This does promote replaying the levels but it can be a pain having to redo some of the tougher levels because you have missed a few of the coins.
Yooka Laylee & the Impossible Lair is great step in the right direction for the franchise, despite it’s lukewarm debut this title shows there is plenty of charm and talent at Playtonic and in Yooka Laylee. This fantastic 20 hour romp will test the skills of even seasoned platforming vets and will see you returning over and over again due to it’s funny writing and infectious charm. The future couldn’t be brighter for this duo and hopefully Playtonic take what was learned here and incorporate it into the series going forward.