The original Yooka-Laylee was released in 2017 and while it was a retro-inspired 3D platformer that set out to bring back the fun, colourful, collect-a-thon, 90s platformers from Rare like Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, it was generally met with a lukewarm reception from the media and fans alike.
Despite this, a sequel was in the works immediately and I’m happy to say that it’s not only an excellent nostalgia trip but adds to the platforming genre, introduces new ideas, and is one of the best platformers I’ve played in years.
- Fun and rewarding gameplay
- Great level design
- Collectables galore
- Simple story
- Controls could be tighter
The game is immediately different from its predecessor and has ditched 3D platforming in favour of 2.5D gameplay. It plays like any traditional side-scroller as you walk to the right overcoming obstacles and jumping on bad guys until you reach the end. However, as these are 3D models on a 2D plane, the platforming can feel a bit loose and if you’re after twitchy platforming, you may prefer something like Celeste, which has more bite in terms of its platforming.
However, the level design is great and you can get even more out of them by modifying them. For example, players can freeze levels, change the difficulty, or add more enemies thereby changing the pace, shape and layout. This means revisiting levels is still enjoyable.
There’s clearly been as much care put into the overworld as the individual levels. Unlike in many platformers where it’s only used to access levels, this has its own puzzles, platforming elements and collectables to find making progression feel fun and rewarding.
In terms of the story, there’s nothing to write home about; this is your typical goodies versus baddies (albeit with the addition of lots of excellent puns). The villain ‘Capital B’ has enslaved the kingdom of bees and you must travel through the Impossible Lair to free them.
While the Impossible Lair acts as the final level in the game, players can access it any time. However, to improve their chances, they should build up their Beetallion (which acts as a personal shield) to make the lair more manageable. You do this by collecting bees and much like its inspiration, collectables are also a big part of the experience.
In addition to collecting bees, there are collectables that act as currency, collectables to unlock abilities, and collectables to add non-gameplay bonuses and extras such as retro-filters you can apply to the game. In short, there are things to collect.
In an age where platformers might seem a bit passé, it’s refreshing to have a game like this available. There wasn’t a single moment in this game where I felt bored or uninterested and while it’s clearly trying to revive an old genre, Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair also feels completely new at the same time!
It’s available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.