Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

The heyday of 3D platformers came in the era of N64, PS1 and PS2 – games about fluffy, cheerful animals that often traveled in tandem sold millions of copies, and the cutest creatures themselves became mascots of home systems. Since then, the developers have matured (see Naughty Dog) and have chosen more serious genres. The decline of “jumping” arcade games based on collecting all sorts of trinkets happened as suddenly as a recent renaissance – this spring, Snake Pass, Voodoo Vince: Remastered, Skylar & Plusx: Adventure on Clover went on sale (or are only expected on the shelves) Island and, of course, Yooka-Laylee.

Localization is done with a twinkle. The catch is not felt during the passage.

watch your language

In the preview, I noted that the backbone of Playtonic Games, responsible for Yooka-Laylee, are former Rare employees, and not just random guests, but the pride of the famous studio for many years. You can see for yourself if you don’t believe the printed word. They apparently did not like the harsh conditions that Microsoft put the company in – after all, the authors of GoldenEye 007, Killer Instinct and Conker: Live & Reloaded deserve more than messing around with the Kinect Sports series.

The rebels founded Playtonic Games, raised over $3 million via Kickstarter, and quietly did what they were masters for two years — a 3D platformer about a hilarious pair of animals stuffed with jokes about the gaming industry. The design of characters and locations is special, “British”. You can’t confuse it with any of the modern projects, the sources of inspiration are the daredevils from the N64: Banjo-Kazooie (1998) and Banjo-Tooie (2000).

According to the plot of Yooka-Laylee, the main villain Capital B gave birth to a simple business plan – to steal all the literature of the world and remain the only player in the market. A kind of magic book that belonged to the loafers Yuka (green lizard) and Leili (purple bat) also fell into the hands of the rogue. But that’s why it’s magical, that take the pages and scatter – remember your name! The cartoon tandem is not going to turn a blind eye to outright theft – with the help of a dapper businessman Trauser, who sells tricks and smuggled pants, they penetrate the Capital B plant, studded with portals to go to five fantasy worlds.

Purely in terms of mood and environment, the locations differ greatly: sunny jungle, a pirate port, gloomy swamps … But the gameplay does not change from level to level – jumping on platforms, fights with minions dying from one or two blows, simple puzzles and various tests for time and savvy, rewarded with Pagies. Pages are the keys to new worlds and expanding old ones.

Like Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee has the mechanic of transforming the duo into something out of the ordinary for finding caches. In the winter level, you will become … a snowplow.

In order not to fall into the grip of boredom, I advise you to alternate locations with runs along the “hub” – the benefit of the game is condescending to the free passage. The main thing is to buy tricks from Trauser, otherwise there will be nothing to experiment with. Over time, Yuka will master a couple of tricky techniques – he will be able to absorb the properties of objects (he touched a cannonball with his tongue – you will walk past a powerful air flow without hindrance) and grab fiery, ice and other elemental berries from the stems, which for a short period turn an ordinary reptile into a dragon. Laylee is not far behind – her sonar will come in handy in puzzles, and the ability to fly, dragging a friend behind her, will dramatically expand the horizons of the game. The variability pleases, although it is clear that Yuka is most of the time a brute force, ramming enemies with her tail and just crashing on the ground, while Laylee prefers to loosen her tongue in conversations with NPCs. Dialogues are pretty amusing: from light-hearted to cheeky, in general – typical fun in the spirit of Rare.

Yooka-Laylee has an extremely convenient layout – there are a lot of moves and tricks, but they are remembered quickly. With the Xbox 360 controller, subjectively, it is more pleasant to play than with the DualShock 4. The camera work was sharply criticized by the media: someone did not wait for the first day patch, someone, I suspect, was not very good friends with acrobatic arcades – after all, twenty years have passed since the release of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. As for me, the control and the camera are scolded from scratch.

Simple “bosses” were also nit-picked (come on! Before us, after all, a platformer), voicing heroes with monosyllabic sounds (what did you expect from the successor to Banjo-Kazooie?) and the lack of a map. The last one is from the category of complaints about PaRappa the Rapper Remastered, which migrated to PS4 without gameplay changes and was perceived by modern players as too hardcore.

Yuka and Leyli do not stand on ceremony with the miracle people – they just chop off the shoulder … that is, the “tail”.

But, as befits an ambitious project from a modest studio, Yooka-Laylee is not without flaws. In the winter kingdom, you will be offered to smash the needle brick by brick – then you will fully appreciate how awkward the physics of destructible environmental objects are. And the phrases that Capital B repeats in a circle in his lair? At first they will make you laugh, but the further they go, the more annoying. Mini-games on arcade machines and races on the trolley are also not successful – you quickly lose interest in them.

Perhaps the loudest controversy was caused by the performance of the game, which is strange – it works flawlessly. I was able to evaluate the PC and PS4 versions – the console port, for example, does not “sag” when there are a lot of fire sources on the screen. Lighting and drawing range, despite the vastness and complexity of the geometry of the worlds, are excellent, there are no complaints about textures either. In general, this is understandable – technically, Rare games have always been impeccable.

The impressions of the computer and console versions were summarized by the Digital Foundry team (Eurogamer’s iron department), confirming the obvious – the PC version turned out to be the best, which was personally handled by Playtonic Games, placing the porting on the shoulders of Team17 Digital. On a PC, with a good processor and a GTX 980 Ti, you’re free to push the resolution up to 1440p (at 60 fps) or jump straight into 4K. In fairness, the settings menu in Yooka-Laylee is spartan: for example, you can not block the frame rate at 30 fps. Versions for PS4 and Xbox One “plow” in 1080p/30 fps – the abundance of objects on the screen and meticulous detailing do not affect the refresh rate in any way. Console ports only lack high-quality anti-aliasing – this is their only technical disadvantage. Playtonic Games and Team17 Digital should also be blamed for not implementing PS4 Pro support – owners of Sony’s “intermediate” platform will have to rely on Boost Mode, which forcibly “boosts” the CPU and GPU. In short, the developers quite coped with Unity and avoided bugs with honor, having achieved an impressive picture.

Yuka is powerless against the abysses – help me out, Layley!

***

Yooka-Laylee is a justified speculation on nostalgia. Ex-Rare employees have succeeded on the main fronts – it concerns both the visual appearance, and the gameplay, and the script. As for Rare itself, it’s still an impressive studio with more than a hundred employees – now its main forces are thrown into the multiplayer pirate “sandbox” Sea of ​​Thieves (preview), which should debut on PC and Xbox One before the end of the year. I wonder if it “shoots” or not? In any case, it’s too early to bury Rare and her legacy – and Yooka-Laylee is a living confirmation of this.

Pluses: debugged management; beautiful graphics and excellent optimization; a vivid example of British game design and British humor; “gathering” is by no means tiring – you can always switch to new tasks, since the choice is huge (in addition to the main mechanics, do not forget about transformations and “perks”!).

Cons: there are fresh ideas, but they are not enough to talk about a full-fledged modernization of the genre; frustrating physics of destructible objects; for the most part monotonous opponents.

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