Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Even with some of the negative press the previous Yooka-Laylee title had, I really appreciated it. It reminded me of some of the games from my youth, with its big open levels and numerous collectables to find, I enjoyed trying to discover everything, reveal its secrets and explore each level to make sure I had discovered everything on offer.
When the sequel was announced I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I was happy with more Yooka-Laylee in my life, on the other hand, I was a bit apprehensive when the game was shown to be a 2D platformer instead of the 3D platformer it succeeded. Over the years I have realised that I should go into any game with an open mind, so I will definitely reserve any judgement until I have played it.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair tells the tale of two friends, the same two improbable friends as the first title and you join them on their quest to right the wrongs of the world. On this occasion, you are aiding Queen Phoebe who is trying to save her beehive from Capital B. He is trying to enslave them with a mind-control device called the 'Hive Mind' and our two protagonists are having none of it.
The game is split into two styles. Firstly, you have an overworld that can be explored and expanded through various means, it has a slight Metroidvania feel to it as it is gated through the use of abilities, challenge stages and general level completion. Secondly, dotted through this overworld are your 2D levels. These stages are the bread and butter of the game and where you will be spending most of your time.
This is where the biggest change to the formula comes into play, the levels play out more like the recent Rayman games rather than the open-world, expansive style of the first game. You have five coins to find, which are often hidden and the levels are littered with challenges and secrets to discover. Some of the small quill challenges also reminded me of Rayman's lum collection challenges and you can definitely see where some of the inspiration from the 2D style came from.
Another big change is that you can take on Capital B and the Impossible Lair straight away if you want but very much like Breath of the Wild. However, completing levels and freeing more Beetallions will make your battle easier and give you more hit points. It's a nice feature but I feel most people will just plough on with the levels and fight the boss later on.
There are some things that remain from the first title, tonics make a return and they change certain aspects of the games but modify your quill modifier in return. Tonics that make the game easier will give you fewer quills at the end of each stage so it is up to you to balance these variables accordingly. Also returning are some of the quirky characters from the first game, which made me very happy and I enjoy some of these characters' personalities a lot.
Onto the actual gameplay then. After a few short minutes of playing Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, my fears were alleviated. I was unsure of the transition to 2D but it is handled superbly. The controls are tight, the levels are bright, well designed and everything is so much fun. The game looks and feels like Yooka-Laylee but has a fresh feel and I could not be happier about it.
The chirpy upbeat music remains, every levels soundtrack matches the style of the stage and the graphics are truly beautiful. Everything is so crisp, colourful and pleasing on the eye. I loved every bit of the games presentation and its great level design. It was so enjoyable, even when replaying levels to find all the collectables and secrets they had to offer.
I think this sequel will appeal to a lot of people, even the people who did not enjoy the prequel. It has a lot of changes that work and has kept its charm, its moreish collectables and its witty characters. It has, however, become more modern, more playable and a lot more fun. I did not think it was possible but I prefer it over the first and I am not afraid to admit it. Right, I'm off to play Yooka-Laylee and hopefully chase down that ellusive 100% completion.
- Xbox One