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Yooka-Laylee (PS4) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Formats: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
5.5
5.5/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


  • Great sound and visuals
  • Boss battles are enjoyable
  • Early levels are well designed and vibrant
  • Not So Much?


  • Awful camera and controls that aren't up to scratch
  • Poor hub world means time wasted searching for new levels
  • Mid game worlds are an absolute chore
  • Trying to get to certain areas without clues that you have to get abilities from later in the game


  • Final Fiendish Findings?

    Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee is a game that looked like it was going to be a great thing for fans of classic 3D mascot platformers, but it’s just not there. Certainly, it’s not a terrible game, but just when you think you might be starting to love it, something happens that just ruins it. From the abysmally designed hub world, to the iffy controls, to the annoyance of spending time trying to get somewhere only to find out that you have to go into a different level in order to get an ability in order to progress, with no hints given, it just makes the game too hard to love. Or even like in some cases. It starts quite well, and goes downhill towards the middle of the game, without ever reaching those initial heights again. Disappointingly mediocre.

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    Posted April 9, 2017 by

     
    Final Fiendish Findings?
     
     
    K

    ickstarter has seen a number of titles funded that look to be spiritual successors and homages to classic games that either have changed a lot in recent times, or just out and out aren’t made anymore.  One such game that’s been generating a lot of buzz has been Yooka-Laylee, made by Playtonic Games, a team made up of a bunch of former Rare employees who worked on Banjo-Kazooie.  Their attempt to create a game in the style of Banjo is here, and the results don’t quite live up to expectations.

    Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer that sees you playing as the eponymous Yooka, a friendly, helpful chameleon and Laylee, his much sarcastic, and often downright insulting bat friend.  The evil Capital B is stealing all the books in the world, in an attempt to find one special book that will allow him to reshape the world as he sees fit, and so it falls to you to thwart his plans.

    He's called Trowzer.  No, really.

    He’s called Trowzer. No, really.

    The aim of the game is to explore a bunch of different worlds to collect Pagies in order to open new worlds and eventually get to the confrontation with Capital B.  Each world requires a set number of Pagies to open, and then later, you can expand the world with more Pagies, unlocking new challenges and areas to explore.  There are a bunch of other collectibles as well, such as quills which you need to buy moves from a business minded snake called Trowzer (yes, really), as well as Mollycools in order to allow a squid Doctor to transform you into another creature, much like Mumbo Jumbo in Banjo-Kazooie.

    It’s clear right from the get go that this game is made by former Rare guys, copying Banjo-Kazooie from the musical style, the variety of different characters on display and even the fonts used in the game.  The delight and familiarity of the first hour or so of the game is great, and really makes you feel like you’re back in a late 90s platformer.  Unfortunately, there are some problems with those classic 3D platformers that have also persisted.

    One of the biggest problems is that the camera is absolutely atrocious in a lot of places, having a horrible tendency of snapping to another angle at the worst possible time, causing you to completely miss a jump you’re attempting and having to climb back up to reattempt it.  There are also times when an angle doesn’t show you enough of what’s coming ahead, so you’re making a semi-blind jump and just hoping everything doesn’t go wrong.

    yooka2

    This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the controls aren’t particularly tight.  For example, some sections require you to roll uphill, navigating various obstacles as you go.  However, manoeuvring while rolling is extremely frustrating at times, making these obstacles far more difficult than they really should be.  Some of the transformations are even more difficult to control, the snowplough being the most aggravating part of the game for me.

    The game is also plagued with poor design decisions which can make certain tasks annoying and a downright chore at times.  Yooka-Laylee has quite possibly one of the most horribly designed hub worlds I’ve ever tried to navigate.  There are all sorts of corridors and rooms with level placement in the most random places.  It took me a long time to actually find a couple of levels, because they were through corridors that were hidden in places you wouldn’t go to straight away because they aren’t signposted well at all.

    The actual levels themselves, by contrast, are quite well designed and interesting, at least initially.  The first two worlds are certainly interesting with a bunch of different areas to get to.  In order to collect everything, however, you will have to go to later levels to unlock new abilities and then backtrack, Metroidvania style.  The problem here is that the areas of earlier levels where you need abilities you don’t have aren’t signposted at all.  You can struggle for a long time to try and get to a Pagie only to give up and go elsewhere, only to learn a move in a later level which you needed to get to said Pagie.  Unlike games like BK, there’s no-one to tell you that you need to learn a new move, which is kind of frustrating.

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    It’s not all bad, though.  The character designs and levels are reminiscent of that 3D mascot platform era and look really good.  In particular, retro looking dinosaur Rextro is fun with his arcade games, which are basically mini games which can also be played multiplayer outside of the main game.  Some of these games are fun to play, but they’re mostly just a distraction.  The boss battles are good and there are genuinely good moments where the game is a joy to play.  But it’s just not as good as it could’ve been.  Also, the game makes a lot of jokes about things other games do that are bad or annoying, but then does those exact things.  That’s fine a couple of times, but it just stops being funny very quickly.  Also, Laylee is just kind of a horrible character who treats people like crap.

    FINAL THOUGHTS
    Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee is a game that looked like it was going to be a great thing for fans of classic 3D mascot platformers, but it’s just not there.  Certainly, it’s not a terrible game, but just when you think you might be starting to love it, something happens that just ruins it.  From the abysmally designed hub world, to the iffy controls, to the annoyance of spending time trying to get somewhere only to find out that you have to go into a different level in order to get an ability in order to progress, with no hints given, it just makes the game too hard to love.  Or even like in some cases.  It starts quite well, and goes downhill towards the middle of the game, without ever reaching those initial heights again.  Disappointingly mediocre.

    The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

    Mike Jones

     
    Mike first started writing about video games at the age of 10 when he wrote a Sonic Chaos review for his school newspaper, and hasn't looked back since. Favourite game genres include MMOs, racing games and puzzlers, but he'll try most things once.