Yooka-Laylee, or Yooka hyphen hyphen Laylee if we are to take the logo as canon, is – in case you’re not aware – the most Banjo-Kazooie game since Banjo-Kazooie. This is, of course, completely intentional and the entire point of the game’s Kickstarter campaign. It’s also the reason I (eventually) bought it.
Many people have slated Yooka-Laylee for a number of reasons. It’s a relic of a past age of collect-em-up 3D platformers. It’s rather too close to the source material. It suffers from weird glitches and framerate issues. It’s just not very good. To all of these I mostly agree, except the last one. Because it’s very good.
OK, so it isn’t as good as Banjo-Kazooie. But it is almost as much fun and certainly much more accessible. It looks and sounds how you remember that game did rather than actually how that game did. All the characters have Rare-Eyes. Everyone speaks in that grating nonsensetalk way. The music! Oh my, the glorious music. The casino level in particular is incredible, but more than just the compositions, it’s the way – like the older games – as you move around the levels the music changes with you. It becomes more sinister, more happy, more… dirty, depending where you go. It’s The Best Music.
But we don’t usually play games for the music (OutRun excepted). Thankfully, Yooka-Laylee is great other than that. Big worlds (that can be made bigger), funny characters and dialogue, and tough but fair challenges to get Pagies – the main collectable. I say main because this is Rare^H^H^H^HPlaytonic we’re talking about – there’s Pagies, quills, coins, tokens, ghosts, and all sorts to pick up.
The freedom to the levels is clever too. You don’t have to 100% each to move on, and you can expand each in any order providing you have enough Pagies to do so. I was a little worried it was possible to do stuff out of order in such a way you were locked out of Pagies for progression, but it seems not. With 140 of these things in total (and 100, how many I got) needed to complete the game, it isn’t a short task either.
So, if you were a fan of Banjo-Kazooie, you need to get this. Don’t expect everything to have been 100% updated for the modern gamer, but be pleasantly surprised that it isn’t as old-hat as you were expecting.