In 2015, a Kickstarter project arrived that resonated with thousands of gamers. The project hit many of us right in the retro feels. The According to the Kickstarter page, It’s a Rare-vival! From the talent behind Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong country! An all new buddy duo, just like in games of old! The project got support from over 73,000 backers and blew away the original goal by earning a whopping 2 million Euros. Now, we have this retro dream project in our hands. Let’s dive into some of the things that I liked about my experience with Yooka Laylee.
For starters, Yooka Laylee looks and feels like a true throwback to classic platformers of old. We meet the duo of Yooka and Laylee as they are laying around discussing plans for their home, which is a shipwrecked vessel. Their book is sucked away by our villian, Capital B, who plans on taking all the books of the world and turning it into pure profit. Of course, Yooka and Laylee can’t stand by and let this happen!
The main task is to capture all the Pagies that have gone missing. To do this, you will explore 5 worlds – Tribalstack Tropics, Glitterglaze Glacier, Moodymaze Marsh, Capital Cashino and Galleon Galaxy. Each world is very unique, colorful, and filled with areas to explore. Honestly, this is one of the best features of Yooka Laylee. I don’t remember seeing this much exploration in retro platformers of old! Each time you unlock a new ability or gather more quills, you will find new areas to unlock and more puzzles to solve. There are a wide variety of abilities in Yooka Laylee, and you will need to unlock every one, especially if you are the type of gamer that needs to collect everything! The puzzles can be a little challenging. They were not frustrating by any means, but they do require certain abilities. This means you may have to come back to different areas later in the game. Along with the puzzles, there are many enemies and bosses that you need to tackle. Overall, you get a lot of gameplay and places to explore.
The gameplay is a throwback to old platformers to a fault. I have read many complaints about the controls. But personally, I only had some minor issues with them. At times, the movement is a little too sensitive, so one slight nudge of the joystick sent me off platforms and into enemies. I will admit that my style of play does not always fit with platformers. I do tend to rush instead of taking my time. Again, other reviews have had other issues with controls that I did not have. Also, the camera is as frustrating as platformers of old. I had the camera swing in weird directions multiple times during my gameplay, so be ready to use the right joystick to correct it.
The single player campaign has a lot of areas to explore and things to do. However, you should not forget about the co-op and arcade games. Yooka Laylee has several arcade games for up to 4 players. You can play co-op and have a player control Yooka while the other plays Laylee. You can also play an interesting mode that gives a second player control of a team of bees. Your task is to collect quills and butterflies for Yooka Laylee. I Like that these modes provides a bit of a different experience. The arcade games are great fun. The bee mode does get a little boring for the second player after a while, but it is fun to play for small increments.
Graphically, Yooka Laylee is a spitting image of retro platformers like Banjo Kazooie. The art design is cute and vibrant. Each of the characters are unique and very funny. The music is wonderful, and Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie) and David Wise (Donkey Kong Country) did a fantastic job with the music. Now I have one HUGE problem. I really wish they either hired voice actors or had the characters be silent. Each character talks, but in one syllable noises that becomes very annoying over time. Hearing Yooka go “meh meh meh mehhhhh me meh mehhhhhhh meh meh mehhhhhhhhh” over several hours was not a fun experience. I really wish that had distinct voices! Although one of the characters, Trowzer (he is a snake….Trowzer….snake…..), has more of a 20’s mobster sound, which was pretty amusing. In fact, the puns are top notch and very punny…I mean funny. I really enjoyed the humor in Yooka Laylee.
I just want to mention one thing that has been bugging me about Yooka Laylee. This will not reflect the score because it is a personal thought about the game and doesn’t really reflect anything that should be held against the game. For me, Yooka Laylee feels like it is missing something that would make the game truly magical. It has the right gameplay and look. The music is incredible. However, it feels likes something is missing that could make it a must buy. I wish it gave me a sense of awe that I felt when I played Donkey Kong Country or Banjo Kazooie for the first time. They were amazing experiences in my childhood. Perhaps I am too old to feel that kind of awe and wonderment. Yooka Laylee is still a fun gaming experience, but didn’t quite hit that nostalgic feelings like I hoped it would. I can imagine that Yooka Laylee would be a fantastic experience for younger gamers or those who never had the change to experience true 3D platforming like before.
With that being said, I want to emphasize that there are several great elements in Yooka Laylee. The look and music are great, and the exploration and things to do are top notch. I wish the controls were a bit more polished and that voice acting was included in the game. Overall, Yooka Laylee sets out what it originally promised – it gave us a fun and entertaining ode to 3D platformers of old.
Yooka Laylee is available now on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, and will be available soon on the Nintendo Switch. You can pick it up at your local retailer for $39.99.
If you are unsure about Yooka Laylee, check out the first 20 minutes of the game below!
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Many areas to explore
Amusing multiplayer options
Camera is a throwback to annoying cameras of old
Where is the voice acting?
Multiplayer may not hold up for longterm gaming sessions