Yooka-Laylee Reviews

TSA Score for this game: 197
Posted on 16 June 18 at 06:55
This review has 1 positive vote and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer that pays homage to the Banjo Kazooie series and is a sort of reboot to the series. The game looks great and is well optimized so even lower end systems should be able to run the game fairly well.

The game itself is an amazing experience that takes you straight back to that feeling of playing a classic 3D platformer as a kid, exploring just for the sake of exploring, and always finding something new. There's pickups everywhere, from the basic currency of quills to hidden secret ghosts. You'll need to use your head to solve some puzzles and other types of challenges to collect some of these items, but all of them offer variety in each world you visit.

Throughout your journey you'll meet quite a large cast of memorable characters, each with their own types of challenges, quirks, and rewards. You'll encounter everything from a lizard selling moves and powers, to an octopus armed scientist who will transform you into all kinds of different things that relate to the Tome World you're in, bringing a whole new twist to the platforming mechanics in each level. Some characters only appear in certain worlds, but every one is unique enough to remember long down the road anyways.

The worlds are designed with the sole purpose of being explored. Everywhere you can look can most likely be reached, and a lot of those tricky, hidden areas are full of secrets to discover, and many are just there to help you see a path to another area, but that's what always keeps you guessing. There's plenty to collect in every world, but by simply exploring you'll always have something to do and something to work towards.

If you want to be sucked into a collectathon platformer like the old days, this is probably the game for you.
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Titanium Dragon
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 619
Posted on 07 June 18 at 07:22
This review has 0 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Yooka-Laylee is an intentional invocation of old collectathon platformers from Ye Olde N64 days. In particular, it is meant to evoke Rare’s collectathons, most notably Banjo-Kazooie, a game about a bear and a bird, which definitely bear no resemblance whatsoever to the lizard and bat protagonists of THIS game, no sir!

Unfortunately, while the magic of Kickstarter created this game, it lacks some of the magic of the old collectathons – if, indeed, they had magic at all.

After all, there is a reason why people are nostalgic for them, and it is that they have, by and large, disappeared.

Yooka-Laylee is a fairly standard example of such a game starting out – you can jump, swim, and have a spin attack to kill enemies on the ground. Over the course of the game you buy additional moves from Trowser, your friendly, not at all unscrupulous snake wearing a pair of pants. Somehow. You gain the ability to jump higher, to glide, do a fast roll on the ground, do a roll boost to break glass, eat seeds to spit at stuff, turn invisible, and eventually, the ability to outright fly and turn invincible.

And yes, the ability to fly does, in fact, pretty much break many of the challenges of the first four worlds, as why do 3D platforming when you can just, you know, fly?

But the reality is that this isn’t much of a loss as, sadly, the game never really excels.

Yooka-Laylee has a hub world which connects up to five other worlds. As with many such games, there are collectibles hidden in the hub world, as well as in all of the various other worlds. The primary collectable of the game are Pagies, pages with faces on them. There are 145 of them, plus quills, which are the equivalent of coins – 200 per level, and collecting them all in each world awards you with another Pagie. The game has four other collectibles, but they’re fairly reserved – a coin to play an “arcade game” in each world, extra health, extra energy for your special attacks, and the “Mollycool”, which enables a different transformation in each world.

The problem with Yooka-Laylee is that games like this live and die on their worlds, and Yooka-Laylee’s worlds are, by and large, utterly unremarkable.

The first level – Tribalstack Tropics – is a semi-promising start, and seems like a fairly standard opening stage, but as you go further through the game, the stages start feeling less and less well-integrated, and more and more like a collection of random platforming challenges stuck in independent of each other to form a “level”. The third and fifth levels – the swamp level and the “space” level that doesn’t actually have any real “space” mechanics – are both pretty much explicitly just a bunch of stuff stuck together with no real cohesion to it, and while the casino world feels built up on top of itself, it also manages to be by far the most tedious level to find missing collectibles in due to its 3D nature.

But perhaps the greatest crime is that the pagies themselves feel completely arbitrary. Why are the game’s collectibles all book-themed? The worlds are ostensibly in books, but the game makes no use at all of this in any way, nor does it seem to have any meaningful relationship to the characters. It all feels very arbitrary.

But the Pagie puzzles themselves often feel quite arbitrary, and not terribly satisfying to complete. Most of them are pretty easy, some of them are harder, and one of them probably took me as long as five others combined to do thanks to rather poor controls (rolling around a ball can be quite an imprecise thing, especially when wind is blowing at you from all directions in intervals). Many of the puzzles consist of talking to some NPC and doing some inane little task for them, and it just lacks much of a sense of satisfaction – getting stars in Super Mario 64, or the major collectibles in Donkey Kong 64, felt significant, but here, it just felt like ticking off a checkbox. Some of these challenges felt much more significant than others, with some pagies practically being given to you while others took some more significant task to collect, and the whole thing felt weirdly inconsistent as a result.

It isn’t just the pagies, either – the game as a whole feels very arbitrary. And while yes, many of those games were fundamentally arbitrary, at least they felt like they tried, just a little. Yooka-Laylee constantly leans on fourth wall breaking humor, constantly referring to itself as a game, as if that would be funny – but really, it isn’t. A little bit of fourth wall humor can be fun, but if you do it too much, it just becomes eye-rolling and expected, and loses its surprise value. That’s not to say that a few jokes didn’t land – the game’s final boss being a “crowdfunded capitalist” was an amusing self-jab – but mostly, it just kind of felt like it went with a very juvenile humor, even more so than the N64 games it was emulating, despite a great deal of its target audience being 20 years older.

The levels themselves don’t feel like they have any sort of cohesive theme or rhyme and reason behind them, the bosses mostly felt arbitrary, and the NPCs inserted in the levels seldom felt connected to the levels. Only the casino level really felt like it had a strong internal theme, and while the very first level did okay, the other three just kind of felt bland and generic. None of the levels were particularly memorable or unique, and the whole game felt like it was kind of going through the motions of recreating a N64 era game, rather than creating something that felt fresh or inspired in any way.

There’s just too little reason to love this game, too many reasons to just be kind of meh about it. It isn’t terrible, but it never really sells the player on it – it feels like it runs purely on nostalgia. And that just wasn’t enough to get it to the station for me.
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