YOOKA-LAYLEE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE LAIR
Now that’s how you do it.    


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
09/10/19

Movement is as slick as you’d expect from a team with this amount of platforming experience. It’s great.

The soundtrack is as delightful and catchy as ever, with the gibberish speak cementing its place as the ultimate 90’s throwback.

There’s lots to see and do, with level and ability modifiers to keep you on your toes. Don’t expect it to be a walk in the park either!

Gorgeous background artwork, smooth animation and a rock solid frame rate make for an impressive package.

THE LAST WORD

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a confident sophomore effort from a team at the top of its game.   

THE FINAL SCORE

5/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

5 out of 5 is FANTASTIC.

To put it simply, something with this rating comes highly recommended, and is pretty much close to perfect.

*Reviewed on Switch, with a copy provided by Team 17.*


The HOMEBOY badge is for the kind of game that is perfect for playing at home, AND when you’re on the go.  

The SLICK RICK badge is earned when the soundtrack, effects, and / or overall audio design is fantastic across the board.

The SKYPE RINGTONE badge is for a game with a catchy soundtrack that you can’t help but love.

The ATOUBA badge is for a game that features a loveable character (or characters).

The UNRAVEL MY LOVE badge is for a game that is clearly a passion project for the developers.

The BEVERLY badge is for a game that would make even Jean-Luc Picard want to spend time with Wesley.

The QUANTUM OF SOLACE badge is for a game that is played (or should be played) by Mike Hazleton.

IS IT FUN?

*You betcha.*

Impossible Lair boasts an unusual structure that allows you to complete the game almost immediately, in an open ended approach reminiscent of Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule Castle. However, the chances of you accomplishing this feat without first rescuing an army of protective bees is nigh on… impossible. Instead, you’ll have to navigate your way through a wide selection of levels that introduce new platforming challenges and enemy types at every turn. Crucially, jumping and momentum, two critical aspects of any good side scroller, are absolutely spot on here. The title characters make for a nimble pair, but you’re also quite vulnerable. Take a hit, and you’ll have precious few seconds to retrieve Laylee before she flies away, thus losing your lifeline. The game is challenging without being frustrating though, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the hidden depths of each chapter.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*Regularly. This one is a charmer.*

There’s an almost childlike glee that you get from discovering twists on familiar sections, and Impossible Lair wholeheartedly embraces this approach to level design. The influence of early Nintendo platformers goes beyond the pedigree on the Playtonic team; you’ll constantly be faced with new ways to mix up a previously completed area. Whether it’s through flooding the map, or courtesy of those famous tonics, there’s plenty of opportunity to keep things fresh. For me, the most memorable moments playing the game are those familiar flourishes that harken back to beloved 90’s era classics. Remixed and slowed menu music, the gibberish dialogue sounds effects… even the banter between Yooka and Laylee themselves will bring a smile to even the most jaded of gamers. Yes it’s all painfully nostalgic, but it still manages to be faithful without being entirely beholden to the past.  

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Not really, which is impressive.*  

We’re reviewing the game on Switch, and despite consistent frame rate performance and solid visuals, load times could be better. Still, this is a serious nitpick, as Impossible Lair is of course limited to each platform’s specification. Other than that, there wasn’t a great deal that stood out as being particularly irritating. A case could be made against the early game reliance on collapsible platforms, which generally speaking I find can be a frustrating element in many platformers. It’s not so much the mechanic itself, but more its over use, which initially concerned me given the original Yooka-Laylee’s tendency to rely too heavily on repeated ideas. Still, things move on before too long, and you’ll soon be faced with a totally different challenge that keeps you on your toes without being an annoyance.

NEXT STEPS?

*A full 3D sequel that incorporates the lessons learned on Impossible Lair.*

Playtonic are relatively young studio, despite the experience and talent spread throughout their team. Impossible Lair is such a polished effort that a second mainline 3D title seems almost inevitable at this point. The big addition for me would be co-operative play, as the original Yooka-Laylee’s “Bee-Team” two player mode was dreadful. Co-op could work in either 2D or 3D gameplay, and would be another exciting way to continue embracing this nostalgic throwback to an era of gaming that I hold most dear. Rex’s Arcade, the smaller scale multiplayer modes from the first game, were a fun distraction, and again provide a solid foundation with which to build on going forward. Impossible Lair has absolutely won me over, and I think it would be a real shame if Yooka and Laylee didn’t get the chance to star in another adventure.  

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a confident follow up to Playtonic’s first platforming revival. With polished visuals and tightly responsive controls, this side scrolling sequel builds on the foundation of its predecessor by retaining what worked (character design, interesting collectables, and that ever catchy soundtrack), while addressing fundamental issues. Specifically, Yooka-Laylee’s debut suffered from technical shortcomings and repetitive design, which marred an otherwise charming throwback to the Banjo Kazooie era of adventure titles. Impossible Lair is simultaneously more ambitious in scope, and focused on what it does best, with an ever expanding suite of level modifiers, an overworld begging to be explored, and a core gameplay loop that rewards exploration and experimentation.

Enemies this close will attempt to melee attack, which can be interrupted with a parry, but you’ll also have to consider the other goons taking aim…

THE BASICS - Side scrolling platformer from many former Donkey Kong Country developers.

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, NS, and PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 0

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - Nope.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - Nothing announced.  

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

These spiders gave me Ocarina of Time flashbacks. Turns out… it was a giant hand this whole time!

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