The Yooka-Laylee embargo has dropped and it’s running the gamut. This spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie is getting scores ranging up and down the whole scale, and we’ve got a round up of some of the key reviews for you.
VideoGamer — 4/10
Let’s start with obviously the most important, from our own Colm Ahern. Colm liked the early levels but found that, as time went on, he was enamoured by Yooka and Laylee less and less. He felt it recreated 3D platformers of the 90s a little too well. ‘Time has moved on since the N64, and while there are a handful of bright spots, this sadly isn’t the catalyst for a 3D platformer revival.’
Xbox Achievements — 55/100
Yooka-Laylee faired a little better over on our sister network, but not much. Though Xbox Achievements believes ‘Playtonic knows how to make an interesting and playable 3D platformer,’ they also think Yooka-Laylee feels a unfinished: ‘It’s like Playtonic built a monument to Rare and from a distance it stands tall and shows a lot of respect, but once you get in close you realise that so many of the screws haven’t been tightened and so many of the surfaces remain unpolished,’
The Guardian — 4/5
The Guardian has a much more positive outlook, praising how Yooka-Laylee is ‘meticulously crafted, not for children but for the middle-aged.’ It has, says Simon Parkin, ‘a princely pile of ideas, and a lovely control scheme that only improves with elaboration’, though he notes there are some rough edges.
Destructoid — 8/10
The reviewer for Destructoid notes that he backed Yooka-Laylee on Kickstarter, so thank god he enjoyed it (as we hope everyone who backed it does). The review praises the effort put into all aspects of the game, and (contrary to Colm’s opinon) the game’s soundtrack. It seems to have provided exactly the retro platformer Destructoid was after:
‘Banjo Threeie is probably never going to happen, but after playing Yooka-Laylee I’m fine with that for the first time in 17 years. Playtonic’s first foray is rough around the edges, but the center is so full of heart that it’ll melt away the more you play it.’
IGN — 7/10
IGN was generally positive too, and, once again, loved the audio, describing the game as ‘a joy to the ears,’ though did find the controls and physics left something to be desired when compared to the classics Yooka-Laylee is inspired by.
‘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.’
GameSpot — 6/10
GameSpot come in a little lower again, not finding the levels ‘terribly original’ and the reviewer was mainly hooked by ‘[their] own nostalgia.’
‘Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee’s best and worst aspects come directly from its predecessor. Despite attempts at modernizing the formula, its style of gameplay is still outdated, and it doesn’t stay challenging or interesting for long as a result. But if you’re looking for a faithful return to the Banjo-Kazooie formula, Yooka-Laylee certainly delivers–from the font to the music to the wealth of collectibles, it’s worthy of the title of spiritual successor.’
GamesRadar — 3/5
GamesRadar is hovering on a 3/5, describing it as a game that might be ‘robust and good-natured’ but one that doesn’t ‘equal the genre’s greatest’.
‘Evoking the essence of late-’90s platforming without significantly modernising it, Yooka-Laylee is a game with noble aspirations, grounded by clumsily flawed execution.’
Eurogamer — N/A
Eurogamer have a pretty positive review, but not quite positive enough to give Yooka-Laylee a Recommended, ultimately saying ‘This is a sumptuous, diverting homage to a bygone era in game design that should keep fans of the old school hooked, even if it doesn’t set the world on fire.’
Polygon — 5.5/10
Polygon doesn’t pull many punches, kicking Yooka-Laylee right in the nostalgia.
‘Yooka-Laylee looks the part of an updated platformer, but some of its mechanics should have stayed back in the era it came from. 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.’
Jimquisition — 2/10
Jim Sterling enters the ring, courting another classic self-DDOS by scoring a game in a way people disagree with or were not expecting. Sterling has many of the same complaints as our Colm, arguing that Yooka-Laylee has replicated a 90s platformer too authentically, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to have enjoyed any of it.
‘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.’
The Escapist — 4.5/5
Let nobody say we don’t show some balance here. The Escapist bloody loved Yooka-Laylee, giving it a 4.5, which translates to a 9 on MetaCritic. The review acknowledges some ‘last-minute annoyances’ but concludes Yooka-Laylee is ‘worth the price of admission’.
‘This time around, Kickstarter actually did come to the rescue, delivering a game that is very much worthy of being called the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. Yooka-Laylee is a game for fans who miss the N64 days of running around a huge, open map, collecting a bunch of stuff and having a bit of a laugh. It’s cute, it’s funny, and a few minor technical issues aside, it’s exactly what it promised to deliver.’