Of course you were going to compare Yooka-Laylee with Banjo-Kazooie. Generally, this is not a good idea, in this case, it just might. Bear and bird make place for Chameleon and bat. Is Yooka-Laylee as good as Banjo-Kazooie? Absolutely not, but then again, what is. Yooka-Laylee is however a lot of fun and well worth your time if you enjoy the genre.
As if we’ve always known the pair, Yooka-Laylee starts without any introduction to the main characters. After only a short intro laying down the simple story, you are off on your adventure. Starting out on Shipwreck Creek the home of the duo. There really is no need to explain any story in this review, you need the Pagies and they are scattered through the land.. Get to it!
As generally known with games in this style and genre, you’re off to collect. It is the worlds however that makes you actually want to collect them. There are five world is total. As exploring and discovery is all part of the good fun, we won’t be naming any of their themes but you can trust us they will be varied. Not only in looks, but also in feel, lay-out and playstyle. Where one world is very wide and open, like many Banjo-Kazooie or Super Mario 64 levels, the other can be a lot more maze-like or made up of different ‘islands’ of sorts, scattered through the world. This might result in the player having a great preference for one level over the other. On the other hand, this also makes the game stay fresh and interesting far longer than in the alternative.
Platformer of this time
Even though Yooka-Laylee is no graphical marvel like say, Uncharted 3 or Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s graphics are more than adequate for it’s purpose. The graphics are high definition, look sharp and are mostly fluid. During our 20+ hours playthrough, we encountered one or two framerate dips and some minor graphical errors (bad shadows and such). Non of them however was severe, long or in any way gamebreaking. Though we played the game on the Xbox One, our understanding is that non of the current version runs significantly better or worse than the other, so you’re safe to pick it up on either PC, Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Sadly, no release date or physical version has been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch. Yooka-Laylee on the go, yes please!
a Pagie for the camera controls
One of the most important things in a platformer are the controls, the camera and how those two work together. Sadly, this is not all rainbows and butterflies in Yooka-Laylee. It’s not nearly as horrible as some like to make you think, really, it isn’t, but it’s there. Mostly, Yooka-Laylee has a free-flowing camera angled behind the two main characters. However, on some of the platforming challenges, the developers choose a fixed camera angle. This on itself is not a problem and in most cases even good. However, the transition between these two camera modes can be really abrupt which especially makes the first level boss more frustrating than it needs to be. As with many platformers, sometimes the camera can get ‘stuck’, hard to properly place and especially in some of the tighter rooms, this can be annoying. Don’t get us wrong though, for most players this will not be to much of an issue. It most certainly didn’t bother us much.
What is considered good humour is ofcourse a highly personal matter. If however you like the humour of Banjo-Kazooie (there they are again) you are bound to love this. Regular fourth wall breaking, wisecrack one liners courtesy of Laylee and comical dialogue with well designed and interesting characters keeps the game fresh and makes the exploring even more fun. Like many products targeted at both young and old, the game is stuffed with jokes funny for all ages and hilarious for the older players! Time to spray your hot stuff on the flowers.
The best high-res Banjo-Kazooie you’ll get!
Apart from some minor issues, Yooka-Laylee is a solid and fun mascot platformer in the style of Banjo-Kazooie. A fun ride in a quirky world full of British humour and entertaining challenges. With about 20-30 hours worth of diverse, entertaining and challenging gameplay, this game is well worth the suggested €40,- price tag. Though probably more fitting for an ‘older’ gamer, the aesthetics give you a good excuse to buy it for your children and hog the console for yourself!
Playtonic Games showed us that not only the genre is still viable, but they as developers still are. We thank them and Team 17 for the fun times they provided us and are very, very much looking forward to what they will bring us in the future!