YOOKA-LAYLEE (Linux, MacOS, MS Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
Release Date: 11th April, 2017 (Nintendo Switch TBA)
Look at them. Those wonderful names, who’ve created some of the gaming industries finest products, who’ve worked on niche games that sit firmly among the ranks of best-sellers, and who have created life long memories.
It is suffice to say that giving a Banjo-Kazooie fan a copy of Yooka-Laylee to review is a sure-fire way to produce some tears, nostalgia and one heck of a detailed play-through. In just 5 hours, the first world has been ransacked of the collectable Pagies (more on those later), there have been too many endearingly awful puns to count, and enough interesting and hilarious characters to fill the 2012 Olympic stadium.
But, we digress.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Yooka-Laylee is an upcoming 3D “collect-a-thon” platformer developed by Playtonic Games and Team 17. With such aforementioned big names working together, one would assume that this project comes from a big-budget studio, but instead a story of integrity, passion and hard work ensues. The game was actually funded on Kickstarter, opening its pledge way back in June of 2015 and eventually raising over £2,000,000.
Yooka-Laylee tells the story of Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the purple bat, a dynamic duo of co-operative critters who use each other’s natural skills to form a vibrant and vivacious villain-killin’ team. After Capital B and his sidekick Dr. Quack steal all of the books in sight in an effort to improve their corporation, Yooka and Laylee must retrieve magical Pagies from powerful tomes in order to defeat the capitalists. Karl Marx, where you at?
As well as these Pagies, you collect quills as a form of currency, butterflies for health and stamina, as well as Mollycools and Ghost writers as side-collectibles which unlock further activities in the levels. The synergy between the items and characters is arguably even stronger in this game, and you can definitely tell immense thought has gone into how these features not only add content to the game, but expand upon it.
The gameplay itself is varied and simple, offering a variety of difficulty levels and features which allow you to tailor your gaming experience to your personal needs; so whether you’re a completionist, a speed-runner or a casual adventurer, Yooka-Laylee has a game mode for you.
It’s hard to talk about the game without relating it back to its spiritual predecessor, and that’s ok. This builds knowingly upon the merits of simple, joyful game-play, accompanied by a stellar and immersive soundtrack and charming design. The worlds are expansive and detailed, and whilst it’s easy to get lost or off track, that’s fine, because there is something to discover and do everywhere.
Yooka-Laylee also controls and functions just like Banjo-Kazooie – adjustable camera angles, moving platforms and double jumps, nonsense voice acting and an undemanding non-linear level system. Perhaps the most powerful thing for older fans may be the music, which truly embodies the style and magnetism of the series.
For those who haven’t experienced the joy of one of the best-selling 3D platformers to grace this earth before, this may seem like just another reboot of ye olden gaming days, but what the team at Playtonic has done for their fans, old and new, is create a whole new realm of platforming, hearkening back to the classic days of the Nintendo 64 whilst implementing modern engines, gameplay opportunities and art style.
It’s obvious at this point that this game isn’t just for Rare fans. If you want beauty, innovation, fun and hours of ear-worm music, look no further. There’s honestly nothing bad to say at this point.
Rating: 10 out of 10