Yooka-Laylee Review

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Yooka-Laylee is a platform game in the action-adventure genre for Linux, MacOS, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows and Xbox One. It’s an old-school hit and the British Studio Playtonic Games decided to remake it. 

Yooka-Laylee is built on a foundation of nostalgia. So if you grew up playing this game and got every last Golden Crown and Banana Fairy Snap in Donkey Kong 64, you'll be thoroughly enjoying this game. For everyone else, that extra dash of nostalgia probably won't go very far. However, Playtonic did put some new twists on gameplay and a few improvements.

Graphics 3/5

While playing a side scrolling 16-bit experience, it feels like the Yooka-Laylee’s developers hadn’t yet worked out how third-person cameras should work. So the complex jumping challenges from the earlier software have been recreated with annoying results thanks to inferior controls and archaic platforming.

More of the time the camera is manageable and stays out of the way, but at sometimes it can be extremely terrible. For instance, there is a part of the final boss fight when rockets are falling on you from above. But the problem is that a camera angle doesn’t move and you can’t see whether the rockets are fired or not and in what direction they are falling.

Also, while jumping in a 3D space, it’s often hard to know where you’re going to land because the old school level design can’t deal with it. Sometimes the shift is gradual, and sometimes your point of view is very suddenly thrown askew.  So all of the moving platforms and tricky chasms simply refuse to account for the shift in the player’s perspective. Yooka-Laylee's camera is at its worst when the duo takes flight, and that's incredibly disappointing.  

Gameplay 4.5/5

The story is about a chameleon Yooka and a bat Laylee whose adventure starts when corporate president Capital B steals from them a book’s golden pages, called “Pagies.” The pair figure that the Pagies must be valuable if someone would bother to steal them, so of course they decide to enter Capital B’s building to get them back. That hub area, Hivory Towers, splits into five themed worlds with a variety of collectibles to find, including Pagies, currency-like Quills and powerups.

The main feature of the Yooka-Laylee is the idea of making levels larger by allowing to use Pagies either open up new levels of five or expand existing ones as well as add new areas. Such options can be attractive if you want to make a level you already love even bigger or update it with a new theme.

Also, from now your characters have such abilities as "sonar blasting," "tongue whipping," "sky soaring." They can also eat berries for temporary powers such as fire breath and a "fart bubble" for breathing underwater. You can restore the health with butterflies which are earned by collecting enough quills to purchase them from Trowzer - a snake salesman who wears pants. An octopus-like scientist named Dr. Puzz can give Yooka and Laylee various transformations with the help of “Mollycools” that grant characters with exclusive abilities. Vendi, a living vending machine, can modify or enhance players' ability stats.

Controls 4/5

In Yooka-Laylee you will have a chameleon and bat as the lead characters. Managing two heroes at one time was is a good idea because it leads to a lot of interesting traversals and actions. The controls will take you a few minutes to get used to them, but they are accurate and responsive. Yooka and Laylee can learn a wide variety of moves that will allow you to glide, spin and even breath fire. You can purchase these moves throughout the game by trading the quills that you find hidden throughout the worlds to a snake character Trowzer.

However, flying in Yooka-Laylee will give you hard times. When you're airborne, you can't see the landscape below unless you fight with the camera, so controlling your flight can be tough. Even landing is clumsy and challenging. Also, combat is brainless, consisting of tapping a single button while enemies walk thoughtlessly into your attacks. Sometimes you’ll not connect with an attack and take damage just because of some reasons. Yooka-Laylee can be quite arbitrary like that.

Replay Value 3/5

Once the story is set-up, you will be guided to the hub world where you are free to explore in any direction that you find satisfying. When you actually begin to explore the five different areas, where the bulk of collectibles and puzzles are, you will be blown away by the labyrinth of each area and nearly overloaded with all of the open doors and paths to take in front of you. Undoubtedly, you will never found yourself bored while playing Yooka-Laylee.

In-app purchases

Yooka-Laylee offers you to purchase various additional soundtracks as well as Yooka-Laylee’s 24-page digital manual art book, that features exclusive details on the characters, worlds and challenges.


It'll be hard to ignore the feelings of nostalgia throughout Yooka-Laylee. If you have grown up with this game, then you’ll get a lot more out of Yooka-Laylee than novices to the genre. Everything from the fonts, bumbling character voices and the distinct soundtrack is familiar in the best way possible.

Nonetheless, while it’s bright and colorful, the game’s choppy framerate and poor physics kill any pleasure that you can get from the graphics. Stages aren’t particularly detailed in their design, featuring lots of basic blocks, platforms and ramps. Despite attempts at modernizing the formula, its style of gameplay is still outdated, and it doesn’t stay challenging or exciting for long as a result.

  • Graphics 3
  • Gameplay 4.5
  • Controls 4
  • Replay Value 3


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