Yooka-Laylee: What The Reviews Are Saying
The nostaglic platforming adventure has critics unimpressed in the week leading up to the game's release.
Playtonic’s upcoming Kickstarter-funded love letter to the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro and the 3D platforming genre has had a healthy portion of early reviews already published, and the verdicts range from incredibly abysmal to slightly above-average.
The Jimquisition: 2/10
Independent critic Jim Sterling had this to say in his cripplingly low 2 out of 10 review:
Yooka-Laylee is a game out of time, clinging so desperately to past glories it doesn’t seem to understand the Earth kept spinning after the N64 was discontinued. It’s everything wrong about the formative years of 3D platforming and it somehow retained none of what made the genre’s highlights endure.
Yooka-Laylee is, in a word, rubbish.
Kotaku: No score
Heather Alexandria wasn’t quite so harsh, but the good came at too high a cost:
Tearing away all of the bloat, Yooka-Laylee is a challenging and satisfying platformer. When it focuses on the basics, it succeeds with considerable flair. Yet, these moments arrive in short bursts that are padded out by confusing and hostile design. They point towards a far more enjoyable game than the complete package. The parts are significantly greater than the whole. There’s fun to be had but it doesn’t come easily. And if I never have to collect another shiny again, it’ll be far too soon.
Polygon’s Chelsea Stark was similarly underwhelmed, content to leave the past in the past.
There was a reason we haven’t seen more games like Banjo-Kazooie on modern platforms, and it wasn’t just because Rare as we knew it was gone; its ideas were very specific to a gameplay era that we’ve evolved past. Fourth-wall-breaking dialogue, shiny characters and lush graphics can’t save Yooka-Laylee from the dated framework that it’s built on.
Kallie Plagge was also not a fan of the game’s apparent tendency to lean on nostalgia:
As a spiritual successor to 3D platformer Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee really does capture the cheeky personality of its predecessor. It doesn’t introduce many new ideas, but it does rework the existing formula, creating a far less linear version of the N64 collectathon. Ultimately, though, bloated levels and a largely uncooperative camera keep Yooka-Laylee from being more than just a nostalgia trip.
PC Gamer: 68/100
Tom Marks has major beef with one aspect in particular:
The hardest enemy I had to fight in Yooka-Laylee was its camera. The hordes of minions sent by evil corporate book-napper Capital B were easily killed and often ignored, but wrestling the third-person camera into submission was like trying to get an actual bat to ride on the head of an actual iguana.
IGN was a bit kinder to Yooka-Laylee than most.
While it lacks the heart and polish of some of its incredible predecessors, it’s a good reminder that this genre, once thought to be dead, still has some life left in it.
The common thread here seems to be that the controls and camera are downright uncooperative, combining with other dated mechanics and design choices that fail to bring the 3D character platformer into the 21st century. There seems to be glimmers of something fun here, but not enough to overcome the considerable suite of problems. We’ll see what our own Alex Black has to say in his forthcoming review.
Yooka-Laylee releases April 11th.