Yooka-Laylee Preview: Here And Now
Greg Johnson / Feb 28th, 2017 No Comments
It has been a long path for Yooka-Laylee to go from concept to release. Playtonic Games, a studio made up of former Rare developers, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the game nearly two years ago. The obvious spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie earned more than $2 million from the crowdfunding effort.
Now, Yooka-Laylee’s launch is fast approaching. The colorful 3D platformer is set to release April 11 across essentially all platforms. Ahead of its launch, we were able to play a near-final version of the game at a preview event, and what we saw is the culmination of years of work and a lot of passion.
From The Beginning
The preview build we played started the same way the final version of Yooka-Laylee will. In fact, Playtonic only made some areas inaccessible to keep the demo contained. We were able to access the main hub world, Tribal Stack Tropics (the first world) and Glitterglaze Glacier (world two).
Yooka-Laylee opens with the titular duo relaxing after having finally finished painting their home, Bat Ship Crazy, a derelict ship in the middle of a field. Meanwhile Capital B, the game’s antagonist, and his nefarious henchman Dr. Quack discuss their plan to steal all literature for a nefarious plot.
These cutscenes showed us that Yooka-Laylee is not skimping out in terms of story. The dialogue hints at a mature, intricate plot filled with the same tongue-in-cheek humor you’d expect from former Rare devs.
One of the funniest bits occurred during our first encounter with Dr. Quack, who challenged us with a quiz — if you donated to the Kickstarter campaign, you may recognize the quiz showdown as a stretch goal. Dr. Quack asked questions that tested our in-game knowledge, but it is the comedic moments that made this interaction stand out. Laylee points out that this quiz is standing in for an actual fight due to blowing the “budget for boss fights.”
This self-aware fourth-wall breaking dialogue is what makes Yooka-Laylee unique, and it is exactly what the gaming world has been missing since the days of Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
One of the most impressive things I noticed about Yooka-Laylee’s gameplay is how open it is. Players can unlock new worlds in any order and moves can be purchased in any way. If you want to do a lot of fighting, purchase some ground-and-pound moves from Trowzer the Snake, but other abilities will allow you to attack opponents in different ways. Taversal abilities such as rolling and a gliding double-jump are incredibly useful.
As part of this openness, Yooka-Laylee allows players to expand levels. This feature allows you to open new challenges and further explore the worlds that you like the best. It also means you won’t get stuck in a level you don’t care for — simply make a beeline for the level’s boss, defeat the baddie (which is no easy taks) and move on. You can easily rush through levels as quickly as possible or explore them thoroughly to discover the secrets within them.
Another major feature in Yooka-Laylee is Play Tonics, unlockable modifications available to players. These tonics are unlocked by completing objectives in the game and can be used for a variety of purposes. Some change how you play the game while others are purely cosmetic.
Developers said they wanted Play Tonics to help cater to different play styles. This goal is accomplished as tonics require players to experiment with diversifying movesets. These challenges act almost as an extended tutorial to help open up players to new ways to play Yooka-Laylee.
Yooka-Laylee is finally ready for its big debut. It’s been no secret that it is essentially a continuation of the Banjo-Kazooie franchise, and that is obvious upon playing it. The bright worlds and platforming gameplay may convince you that you’re playing an N64 game at first. But there are a lot of new mechanics in Yooka-Laylee that make it unique. The open-world and player-controlled universe bring the gameplay of old to another level.
The game is set to release April 11, with a Nintendo Switch version of the game set to launch at a later date. Developers had no update on that version of the game, but said they are hard at work to bring it to Nintendo’s new platform.
Playtonic is also working hard with their composers on a Yooka-Laylee-inspired rap, and seemed very excited to share it with the world soon.
tags: Playtonic Games , preview , Team17 , Yooka Laylee Preview , Yooka-Laylee