Review – Yooka-Laylee
Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic Games is staffed with a slew of people who were behind the Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country games, giving the game a shot of old-school credibility even though it’s an all-new IP. The experienced staff also helps explain why the title – available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC – feels a lot like a game developed during the peak of the Nintendo 64’s 3D action-platform days and then lost behind a cabinet for 20 years.
Old-school design sensibilities offer a lot of positives for gamers tired of today’s tilt toward realism, darker experiences, and games as a service – not just as games. For that crowd, Yooka-Laylee is both a breath of fresh air and a shock to the system, thanks to its reliance on bright colours and humourous writing. There are tons of collectibles to find, powers to unlock, and new areas to explore – right smack dab in the wheelhouse of 90’s-era game fans.
The only problem with ‘old-school design’ is that it tends to ignore the advancements made in the interim. Floaty controls lead to frustration, and the camera has a truly awful penchant for glitching out and making it impossible to keep an eye on the action – even after a day one patch that improved the experience. There’s also little in the way of signposting to lead the player toward their next goal, which can be seen as either a positive or a negative, but with several sprawling worlds to explore I’m leaning more toward the latter.