Written by Jon Scarr
Yooka-Laylee has had high expectations to live up to since it was first announced. This spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is a fresh take on an open-world platformer, a genre that seems all but forgotten in today’s video game landscape. Read more in our Yooka Laylee Review.
Developed by former Rare employees, this Kickstarter funded title allows you to explore the world at your own pace. Could Yooka-Laylee be the game to introduce a whole new generation of players to the platformer genre and bring back the beloved 3D platformer genre?
The adventure begins with Yooka, the chameleon, and Laylee, the bat, sunbathing. While cleaning their pirate ship home, they discover a mysterious book. Just as the duo start to look through their prized possession, it along with the rest of the world’s books are suddenly snatched away up into the sky.
As the two are chasing the book, the quickly realize that this is the work of the bumbling corporate tycoon Capital B and his henchman Dr. Quack. Both Yooka and Laylee find themselves at the doorstep of Capital B’s Hivory Towers looking for answers.
However, it turns out that along the way the duo’s prized possession spewed out over 100 pages across five different worlds. Our heroes must now set out to retrieve the pages and reassemble their book.
It’s easy to see just by watching the game’s intro, classic platforming games like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country heavily influence Yooka-Laylee in almost every way.
You won’t find a mini-map or waypoint arrows telling you which way to go. Yooka-Laylee is all about exploration, and collecting tons of goodies. Your main goal is to collect all 145 Pagies, magical sheets of paper that have a cartoon face and can talk.
However, collecting all 147 Pagies is no easy task. You’ll often have to help out the lively inhabitants of the five worlds in exchange for one. This can include navigating tricky obstacle courses, or taking a wooden mine cart on a wild roller coaster ride.
The amount of challenges and the sheer variety is quite amazing. Even when they repeat themselves, new curveballs are always thrown in to keep them fresh. By collecting Pagies you get to talk a colourful bunch of characters, many of whom have hilarious things to say.
As with other classic 3D platformers, Yooka and Laylee can obtain a wide variety of new abilities. In order to obtain these new abilities, you’ll have to talk to a snake entrepreneur named Trowzer.
By using Quills, which are cute feather pen creatures that act as the game’s currency, you can purchase more than a dozen new abilities from a snake oil salesman—he is literally a snake. These range from breathing underwater to a lizard leap that allows you to reach higher ground. Quills are the most abundant item you’ll find in the game, and often they will lead you to secret areas filled with even more juicy rewards.
In addition to Pagies and Quills, Yooka-Laylee has a ton of other items for you to collect that will offer hours and hours of goodie-searching fun. For example, Play Coins are tokens you can find that enable you to play retro arcade games created by a polygonal T-Rex named Rextro Sixtyfourus.
Tonics are unlockable game cheats that give you more ammo or health, and can even change the graphics to 64-bits. My personal favourites are Mollycools, they power up Dr. Puzz’s D.N.Ray machine, which can transform Yooka and Laylee into things like a piranha or a snowplow.
In addition, every world contains five Ghost Writers who are the original writers of Yooka and Laylee’s magical book. Each ghost has a unique personality that must be considered as you attempt to nab them. For example, the playful green guy runs away on sight, and the pudgy pink one must be fed berries.
You’ll travel to each of the five worlds via a central hub world, which includes Yooka and Laylee’s home of Shipwreck Creek. This hub world features some gorgeous reflections with gold all over the place and tropical areas stand out with both lush trees and a bright sun.
The five worlds are lush, bright and contain detailed environments that are reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie with new textures, colours and more details than ever before.
If all this wasn’t enough, the soundtrack that accompanies your adventure is absolutely beautiful. Themes seamlessly transition into each other depending on whether the duo are on land, in water or deep in a dungeon or cave. It really gives the scale of some of these worlds some great perspective.
Many of the supporting characters also have their own set themes and arrangements that are tailored to fit in with the world they are currently inhabiting.
Yooka-Laylee is full of challenges and goodies, here are some tips and tricks to help you throughout the game
Yooka-Laylee is a whole lot of un that will keep platformer fans busy for hours on end. If you enjoy classic 3D platforming games like Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country 64, and Super Mario 64 then you will fall head over heals in love with this game.
However, if you have never played a 3D platforming game, then Yooka-Laylee is a perfect place to start. Yooka-Laylee is a breath of fresh air that is an enjoyable experience, and one I highly recommend for gamers of all types.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Playtonic Games
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who loves all things gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been in love with technology and gaming for over 20 years. Come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter.