Yooka-Laylee review: ‘not as enjoyable as Banjo-Kazooie’

Luke Johnson
Reincarnated: the spirit of Banjo Kazooie fails to evolve in Yooka Laylee: Team 17

It’s time for a trip down gaming memory lane because new platformer Yooka-Laylee is the 1998 classic N64 game Banjo-Kazooie reimagined.

It features the same dual-character set-up with different animals, the same bold, bright, platform-style levels, and a similar set of character abilities that you need to unlock to progress throughout the game. Heck, it’s even been made by ex-employees of the original publisher. There’s just one key difference though, this modern adaptation isn’t anywhere near as good or as enjoyable.

You play as both Yooka, a friendly, mild-mannered lizard, and Laylee, a gobby, arrogant bat that rides around on his mate’s shoulders. Your mission is to traverse the ever-expanding worlds collecting Pagies, golden pages from a magical book that the dastardly Capital B and Dr Quack are trying to steal for their own world-controlling gain.

At first things are fun. It’s all bright colours and enjoyable exploration, but the game fails to evolve and is let down by an infuriating dialogue mechanic that is an annoying mixture of repetitive, guttural grunts and incoherent sounds that will have you reaching for the mute button.

The jokes are predictable and fail to land the desired laughs, while Laylee’s impatient, know-all character quickly crosses the line from sharp-tongued wiseguy to borderline bully, with cracks at the speech impediment and weight of some bit-part characters.

Both the character and the game cross the line between edgy and unlikeable, always struggling to regain control with a moment of redemption.

Away from the stilted story you’ll have fun though. There is a broad and diverse array of worlds as well as plenty of collectibles, unlockables and mini games that will not only keep you busy, but fill you with nostalgic joy at the repeated nods back to the 8-bit gaming days of yore.

(Team 17)

While the journey is enjoyable, the destination is less so. Bosses feel particularly one-dimensional and under-developed, with all six of the big, bold bad guys feeling painfully familiar.

To pass these narrative shortcomings, the game’s made these bosses fiendishly difficult. Not enjoyably so, giving you a sense of achievement upon their defeat, but painfully, infuriatingly so.

The more you progress, the more the game feels short on ideas and lazy in its approach.

This chalk and cheese gaming duo has its moments, but it’s not the sort of game you’re going to be rushing to complete or running back to session after session. The heady days of N64 joy this is not.

Follow Luke Johnson on Twitter: @johnsonjourno

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