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Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 21 - 2019

Hang on a minute – who pinched the 3D world?

A few years ago, a developer that included former members of Rare launched a KickStarter campaign for what they promised would be the spiritual successor to classic 3D platformer Banjo-Kazooie. Like moths to a flame, nostalgic gamers jumped up to take notice, and the KickStarter campaign was an obvious success. It took some time, but eventually Playtonic Games launched Yooka-Laylee, a classic 3D platformer with a modern coat of paint, fronted by the unlikely pairing of a chameleon and a bat.


Now, a couple of years later, we find ourselves looking at the sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. The chameleon and the bat have returned, but almost everything else is different now, as the inspiration from Banjo-Kazooie has been dropped in favour of something more akin to Donkey Kong Country. Of course, the big difference there is that now the game has made the transition from 3D platformer to 2D platformer, which makes this sequel a very different game. However, while the 3D platformer had all but died out before the launch of Yooka-Laylee, the 2D platformer is a much more resilient beast, and quality entries in this genre are still quite common. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair relies much less on nostalgia and more on familiarity to get players booting the game up. Once they step into the game though, Impossible Lair becomes very difficult to put down.

Just because Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair brings a lot of familiar mechanics, that doesn’t mean that the game has nothing new up its sleeve. One of these new ideas revolves around the Impossible Lair from the title. This Impossible Lair refers to the end game level, and in a real twist, it is available almost from the very start. Of course, the player won’t be able to complete it at this early stage as it is an incredibly difficult level. But the fact that it is easily accessible so early in the game and that the player can give it a try if they feel brave enough is really interesting. The more of the rest of the game that the player works through, the easier this level will become, meaning the player can almost adjust the difficulty of the level by choosing when to give it a try.

Yeah, that sounds a bit strange, but let me explain. The final stage is long and very, very difficult. Attempting it alone would be foolish. However, with an army of bees acting as a personal shield, the level becomes much more approachable. However, the bees have all been captured and the player will have to work through a bunch of levels to free the bees they need to attempt the Impossible Lair. With each additional bee that the player rescues, they can effectively take one more hit from the level, and there are a total of 48 bees to rescue in the game. More confident players could potentially attempt the final level with, say, only half that number, giving them more of a challenge than the less confident players. It’s a really clever idea.


At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter how many bees are rescued and taken into the final level, as rescuing those bees is no hardship. This is not to say that the game is easy. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a very solid 2D platformer. This is where much of the Donkey Kong Country influence comes in as players will find themselves running, jumping, rolling along as a ball and even swinging from vines. Collectibles are abundant and will lead the player to searching for hidden areas, and Laylee the bat will get spooked and fly off if Yooka takes a hit, although the player will have a small window to prevent Laylee from escaping, and thus maintaining their health buffer. The platforming is fast and fun, but no walk in the park.

While there are infinite lives and even help for those who find themselves failing at the same point in the level repeatedly, there are other options to tweak the games difficulty, both making it easier and harder. Quills are an in-game currency that the player will find, and these can be used to purchase tonics. These tonics also have to be found before they can be bought, but there are a loot of them and they have varying effects on the game. Some will offer a cosmetic change, such as changing the aspect ratio, while others may make the game easier of more difficult, usually in fun ways. They are a great way for players to experiment with the game, and also quite fun.

The tonics can be found in the overworld, the explorable hub that ties the world together. This is more than just a map from one level to the next though, as there are other collectibles besides the tonics to be found, NPCs to chat with, and there are even puzzles to be solved in these areas. Solving these puzzles will unlock alternate versions of the levels they are associated with, providing yet more challenge and the thrill of entering a known level to find it changed in imaginative ways. This also doubles the number of levels in the game, which is never a bad thing.

Visually, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a really good looking game. Playing on the Switch in handheld mode, it really does feel like the most natural fit. The colours are inviting and pop from the screen, and everything moves exactly as smoothly as it should. Playing on the big screen still looks great, but there is something about the smaller screen that makes the game shine. The soundtrack is another highlight, featuring tracks that will get into the players head.


Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is as much the spiritual successor to Donkey Kong Country as anything else, and fans of that game will find a lot here to get excited about. The level of polish is impressive and the moment to moment gameplay is very tight. Playtonic have mixed in some interesting ideas of their own, giving the game a unique identity of its own that will ensure it appeals to any platforming fan, not just the DK masses. While the previous title was much more divisive, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is an outstanding game.




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