Cartoon characters making bad puns and dad jokes.
I can use many words to describe Yooka-Laylee. Charming, cute, nostalgic, and colorful would be among those. Unlike many games that I have had the privilege of playing at industry demo events, Yooka-Laylee is a game I’ve been interested in since it was on Kickstarter. Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, but even in saying that would be a disservice to what Yooka-Laylee is. This game is a nostalgia filled gaze at 3D platform games of the past, but also a modern take on a classic formula that is oozing with fidelity and childlike wonder. I’m so glad that what I got to play was a smile-inducing joy from the time I started to when I finished.
Let’s start with basics. Yooka-Laylee at its core is a 3D platformer collect-a-thon. Similar to other games there is an hub overworld that leads to other areas that you unlock as progress and collect more Pagies, which operate similar to stars in 3D Super Mario games. You play as Yooka a anthropomorphic chameleon who acts as the straight man of the duo, and Laylee a bat who is the funny woman. The basic plot is that the game’s villains Capital B and Dr. Quack are stealing the world’s literature to convert it to profit, one of the books they steal happen to be Yooka and Laylee’s magical book and they go on a quest to get it back. Things of note are that the book’s pages called “Pagies” have separated from the book and are scattered across the Hivory Towers and the worlds that are inside.
The plot and the gameplay arevery simple, but also deceptively full of depth in its execution. Across your journey you will encounter a colorful cast of NPCs, all with funny dialogue and interactions with the titular main characters. All while exploring a beautifully realized cartoon world. Mechanically speaking, Yooka and Laylee function very well in-game and control super crisply. There’s a balance of weight and floatiness to everything action you do, but it feels natural to the characters animations and proportions. Even though the basic formula is jumping and platforming, Yooka and Laylee unlock new abilities as you progress through the game. The ones I got to try out were a projectile attack, a ground pound type move, and a screech move. These unlockable moves all added variety to what was already a solid gameplay experience; and keeps the game from being too stale or monotonous. The way those abilities function throughout the level also affect how much you can explore. Unlocking new abilities allows you to go to places you couldn’t before, and as you explore you have the opportunity to unlock more abilities, creating a fun cycle of progression. The colorful cast of characters also give out side activities to add even more content, a lot of these boil down to mini games but they are solid. So while Yooka-Laylee is callback to the good ol’ days of 3D platformers, it also an exceptionally slick and modern game in its own right. Providing depth and content side content that does help you out mechanically.
The game’s visuals made me smile like a child in a toy store. Everything has such charm and graphical fidelity that the best way I can describe the game would be eye candy, pure eye candy in every frame. Speaking of frames, from what my eyes gauge looked like a solid 60 FPS. Every level was varied in style, but were all thematically happy and smile inducing. Not only is every character cute in their own right, they are animated with the care and detail of a Pixar or Dreamworks movie, because the truth is what is a cute character without fun animated movements to go along with it? There’s something about this style that ages well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the games still looks great a decade from now.
Now I got the chance to interview Andy Robinson, the writer of Yooka-Laylee. We sat down and talked about the game for a solid 13 minutes, the video for that will be down below. I highly encourage you to watch it as everything Andy says gives a lot of insight about the game and its development.
Unlike most demos I came in to Yooka-Laylee with high expectations, thankfully the demo met if not exceeded my expectations. The colorful world, cute cast, slick mechanics, and the amount of silly puns put a genuine smile on my face. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on the game, which will be releasing April 11th, 2017. For more info on Yooka-Laylee as it’s announced please check back here at Hey Poor Player!