Gamesplanet Review Round Up: Yooka-Laylee
Just Two Friends Taking on a Brand New Adventure
It's hard to believe that a game featuring a pair of heroes known as Banjo Kazooie would be such an iconic part of the N64's history and would be one of Rare's greatest adventure games ever. The game involved you visiting various worlds as you searched for "Jiggies" (or Jigsaw pieces to everyone else), Jingos, Honeycomb pieces and even had you changing your appearance into various creatures from Termites to a Walrus and more. Such was the N64 platforming era with games like Mario 64 you wanted to stand out and Banjo Kazooie did just that, it would later get a sequel with Banjo Tooie that would expand things even further and a third game in the series (which may not be the series highlight everyone had hoped for).
Now it's been 17 years since Banjo Tooie released and much of the original team has left Rare to pursue their very own gaming studio known as Playtonic. In May 2015 they launched a Kickstarter which would smash it's goal within 38 minutes and reach over $1,000,000 in under 24 hours, making it the fastest game to reach that goal on Kickstarter. 2 years on and it's time to see how Yooka-Laylee has faired in the road to launch as we see if it's worthy to continue the Banjo Kazooie legacy.
How has the Kickstarter game that's got everyone talking about turned out with the final release? Let's dive into the PC reviews and look at what the critics had to say for Yooka-Laylee!
I'll cover your ears for you, don't worry!
Taking us on the adventure first is the review from The Escapist who awarded the game 4½ out of 5, a score even Banjo would be proud of! Much like it's predecessor, Yooka-Laylee has you on a quest to stop a big bad and this time it's Capital B (yes he is also a Bee) who is stealing all the books from the kingdom. You will need to travel to various worlds in order to get them back and by doing so you'll unlock various sets of moves in your adventures, plus you can even add more areas to explore by using "Pagies" to expand a world. You'll start out with just a single world unlocked, and not that many special moves. As you collect more Pagies, you'll unlock more worlds, and get to expand existing ones. Along the way you'll be finding new characters who will help (or hinder) your journey such as the trouser wearing snake Trowzers, who will allow you to gain new abilities by spending Golden Feathers (or "Quills").
Next up we've got Game Informer who also loved the charm of Yooka-Laylee, characters opt out of speech and instead focus on the same system that Banjo Kazooie used to make short grunt noises to narrate text which is great for helping get younger players into the game. Exploration is a large part of Yooka-Laylee. As soon as you enter a world, you wander around trying to find things to collect. I had a blast branching from one area to the next, and the excitement that comes from discovering a secret area is unrivaled by anything else in this game. The game also features some bosses in each level, though you may not easily spot them as you go about the world in search of shiny things - but when you do they offer a nice variety and are rewarding when you manage to take one down! It was given 8 out of 10, a game that reminds them of what the retro era of games used to be.
If only you could fit through the bars!
Rolling in next is the review from PC Gamer who gave the game 68 out of 100. As you travel around the worlds you'll find various activities and even some alternative minigames to engage in, some can even be played with friends in the local coop modes and these range from simple racinig mini games to a capture the flag style game, some of these can be a little tricky to control and the camera can be a bit of a problem at times (though thankfully it's been improved with a patch for the game). Performance on PC is great too, console users will get the 30 FPS experience but PC offers up 60 FPS and boy does it feel much more responsive this way. On the performance side, Yooka-Laylee ran at a solid 60 fps on my GTX 970 while at max settings. The options you can adjust are very limited, but thankfully I ran into essentially no performance issues while I played.
Closing us out is the review from Gaming Age. While the game does have a story, it's really about the puzzles and you're given freedom in which to approach things, maybe you're the type of player that likes finding things in your own pace and the game let's you do just that. Searching every part of the level to uncover a new type of puzzle is just as rewarding, and you'll be spending a long time with the game if you're after collecting everything the game has to offer. The sense of accomplishment after tackling a large open area and checking the stats, which are incredibly intuitive and easy to track, to see that I have collected everything in an area is immensely satisfying. You'll spend at least 10+ hours in your adventure and even though the game does have some weak moments (like the dreaded Quiz moments) it can be overlooked for something that can be pure fun. They scored it with a B+.
Worlds can become even larger!
A surprising hit from the team behind classic hits that we grew up with, though it's not perfect it certainly recaptures the essence of what made titles on the N64 (and platformers in general) such a joy to play. Whether or not the game has really improved much since Banjo Kazooie will be up for debate but you can't deny they set out to make an adventure game that we can relate to and take us back in time with a fresh chapter. I'm sure we'd all prefer it to be called Banjo Kazooie 3, but that is not possible with the license being in Microsoft and Rare's back pocket.
After spending some time with it I can safely say that all my doubts about the game were set aside as soon as I started the opening moments I knew this was special. Sure the game does stick heavily to what made Banjo Kazooie a hit and some may argue that it's not really evolving, yet it's as close to a spiritual successor to those games as we'll get. Each World is just as magical and reminiscent of the N64 era of adventure games with a few extra modern sprinkles. Yooka-Laylee doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does recreate it with a glimmer of nostalgia.
Relive the classic platforming era and get Yooka-Laylee today!
– Craig Bishop