Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair Review. Just the two of us.

The first Yooka-Laylee was a spiritual successor to the famed banjo kazooie series featuring Yooka, a male chameleon, and a Laylee, a female...

The first Yooka-Laylee was a spiritual successor to the famed banjo kazooie series featuring Yooka, a male chameleon, and a Laylee, a female bat who team up together to take on the mischievous Capital B. It was a full on 3D open world platforming experience with many throwbacks to the classics of days gone by such as Mario 64 and the aforementioned classic Banjo Kazooie. Now that they have established their own lore, they are back with the Impossible Lair.  Besides its title characters, many familiar faces return for the sequel. However this game brings new gameplay and new challenges with it.

Once again Capital B is up to no good and has created a mind controlling device that can control all of the bees in the kingdom, or stingdom as the game calls it. In the opening levels you take him head on and are doing great until things become too dangerous and you lose control of the beetalion that was given to you by Queen Phoebee. Now with them under control of Capital B you are quickly defeated. But the Queen asks you to not give up and retrieve all of the Royal Beetalion guards one Bee at a time and defeat Capital B once more. Spread over 20 levels you traverse each one looking for hidden items, quills (which act as currency in game) and of course the bees.

Instead of an open world in 3D, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is presented as a side-scrolling 2.5D platform, much like the Donkey Kong Country games. But instead of a continuous progression through each level you return each time to a 3D over world presented with a top down camera. As such the game unfolds in two major sides with each playing a big part in the overall game structure.

One side is the number of platform levels you go through, finding a bee at the end of each level as well as many secrets within using traditional platform skills. You have the standard jumps, roll attacks and the ability to use your tongue to grab items and spit them at enemies. But there are also moves that are more advanced and can only be performed with both characters together such as a buddy slam, a powerful slam attack that can break crates, dispose of enemies and smash open trap doors. If you get hit, the first thing that will happen is that Laylee will fly away confused. If you do not grab her in time she flies off in a panic and will be gone until you find a Laylee-bell or die and start over. Throughout the level there are checkpoints to help you move along and prevent you from starting from the beginning. Often they are placed well, but sometimes they are just a little too far apart, that it can be frustrating. However if you keep failing a particular troublesome spot this checkpoint will offer you the ability to skip that part of the level. Of course this means you might miss on some secrets and quills but at least you can get to the end and free the battalion bee of that level. Once you are done, the game brings you back to the over world.

The over world map is a big part of the game as well. It starts small but is full of puzzles and unlock-able areas that when solved, open up more areas and increase the map size. What is cool about this part of the game is that you can revisit and replay every platform level as many times as you like, ensuring you found all its secrets.  You can even go and confront big bad Capital B from the very start if you want to. Of course the chance of success defeating him will be slim to non, until you've gathered enough experiences and resources ( Beetalion members) to do so. However the fact that you can immediately go to the finale is pretty awesome. Each level is presented by a book. Each book has a bee to unlock as well as a number of coins. These coins are known as twit coins and needed to open up gates known as paywalls through the map. Yes indeed, paywalls. The developers have surely addressed the nonsense of game content being locked behind payable DLC's and have incorporated into the game. 

The over world will change as you progress through it. Along the way you meet Pagie, the character who can change the layout of the map. First however you will have to pass his challenge level for each change to be performed. Once you do, trees are removed, mountains begin to crumble and water starts to flow.  Thus causing you to have more access to far to reach places. But it is not only the 3D world that can be affected. With the help from some magical berries you can also influence the 2d levels. For instance, throw a frost berry on a book page, and the level inside is now a winter wonderland with new places to reach. What were waterfalls before are now icy platforms to jump on and climb further. This in essence revamps all 20 levels and makes them replay-able in a whole new way with new secrets to find.

Then there are the tonics. These tonics are used as modifiers to the game. Some are more useful than others. One of the first tonics I found allowed Laylee to hang around longer after being hit, making it easier to pick her up again. Others give everyone googly eyes or makes the game turn black and white, just to name a few. You can combine any three of them at any given time to adjust your game and perhaps challenge yourself more, making it easier or just to change the feel of the game.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair brings a classic gaming feel to modern platforms while offering more beyond those early concepts and deliver a lot more content. The two prong approach of 2d platforming and 3d puzzling offers variety and breaks up the monotony of the game and keeps things interesting throughout. Each time that you think you are stuck or have seen it all, something new happens, pushing you forward. Replaying a level to get each last missing piece is a challenge but does not feel like a burden.  While having the freedom to try and take on the final boss from the very start is a great option for hardcore players looking to test their skills. Rated E for everyone you will find this game enjoyable by the whole family and it looks great on the small and large screen. 

Game information:
Developer: Playtonic Games
Publisher: Team17
Release date: October 8, 2019
Platforms: PC(Steam), Nintendo Switch,Playstation 4,XBOXOne
Version Reviewed:  Nintendo Switch
ESRB: E  for Everyone ( Mild cartoon violence)


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