Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair Review
When Playtonic revealed and released the Banjo-Kazooie-esque 3D platform title Yooka-Laylee a few years ago, fans of that game style were understandably uber enthusiastic about the games release. Ultimately, the game delivered the experience that everyone remember back on the Nintendo 64, for food and for bad. With one release in the franchise out of the way, Playtonic has flexed their creative muscles on a brand new, and extremely different type of game in Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair.
Corporate overload Capital B is back, acting worse than ever before. New-to-the-franchise character Queen Phoebee and her beetallion have been fighting back, but Capital B has brainwashed much of the battalion. Thankfully, Phoebee tears a number of pages from the Grand Tome containing members of her battalion that have not been brainwashed, and logically, Yooka and Laylee must enter these pages, rescue the battalion members, and march along to the inevitable battle with Capital B.
What’s really great is that Playtonic doesn’t lock the boss fight with Capital B behind progression. If you so choose, the boss fight is available to your right away, although good luck progressing without the help of at least a few members of Phoebee’s battalion. Still, for those with super human platforming skills, defeating Capital B early is definitely a real option!
The Impossible Lair is very reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country titles, in all the best ways possible. Levels get progressively harder as you move through the game, but they never felt unfair. Generally, the challenge came in the form of finding collectibles within a world, as opposed to getting from A to B. Like Donkey Kong Country, ever level is filled with engaging environmental puzzles that, at times, require very specific platforming timing to pull off.
And while getting to the end and rescuing the battalion member is ultimately the goal, Playtonic has provided consumers with many reasons to play levels again and again, both through collectibles, and through changes in the environments.
Like in the original Yooka-Laylee, there are plenty of things to collect within each level, and you likely aren’t going to find them all on your first pass. Finding the 5 T.W.I.T coins, for examples, are important for trading into fan-favourite Trowzer, who will then unlock more of the over world for you to explore. There are also a ton of quills to find, so get scampering and look high and low if you want them all.
The other reason you’ll be playing levels again is when environmental changes in the over world impact a level in that area. For example, flood an area in the over world, and all of a sudden a regular level becomes a water level, opening up new areas for you to explore. These kind of design decisions really set The Impossible Lair apart from other side scrolling platformers!
What is really impressive to me is how the development team made the over world exploration as fun as the levels themselves. As you unlock more of the over world, other challenges will be presented to you, including the challenges presented by Pagies, who make their return from the original title. These add to the overall value Yooka-Laylee brings to the table, and not in a meaningless way either. Finishing these challenges will allow Yooka and Laylee to change the environment they are in, creating new exploration opportunities.
Although very different than that original, it’s hard not to realize how much better this second kick at the can is. Playtonic has learned so much from the original release, and made a game that plays better, has more personality, and is more enjoyable throughout. And let’s not forget that Yooka-Laylee was really good. This is just so much better.
Everything from the textures to the music is crisp and clear, characters seem to have more life than ever before, and there is so much variety that you’ll never be staring at the same environment, or listening to the same music, for too long. This really is the best work Playtonic has done, and easily one of the best platform titles available on Nintendo Switch!