Critics are divided on whether Yooka-Laylee is a good throwback or not

Yesterday we got an early peek at a Yooka-Laylee review that went live before it was supposed to, which led many gamers to wonder whether Yooka-Laylee will be the long-lauded return to the buddy platformer that everyone has wanted. Today, the reviews can finally go live officially, so we’re starting to see a bigger picture about what critics think of Playtonic’s effort.

Yooka Laylee Reviews

IGN – 7 / 10

The whole time, though, you have to wrestle against the fact that the controls and physics never feel quite as polished as the old-school Mario, Banjo, or Ratchet games. There were several times where I failed challenge, not because of a fault of my own, but because of slight collision, timing, and camera issues.

GameSpot – 6 / 10

Each of the base worlds is clearly incomplete, but expanding them doesn’t necessarily improve them. Because most of them have additions in multiple areas and directions, their layouts are hard to follow, and just figuring out where you haven’t been yet can be tedious. They’re hard to parse in the same way that N64-era levels were because they’re open-ish but sectioned off in unnatural places with no landmarks or visual aid to guide you.

Game Informer – 8 / 10

Fun homages to the genre’s history are scattered everywhere. You encounter things like mine cart missions similar to those found in various Donkey Kong Country games, as well as a polygonal dinosaur named Rextro Sixtyfourus, who lets you play arcade-style minigames like a top-down kart racer and a lane-based auto-runner. These are good ways to earn a handful of Pagies during the story, but they boil down to little more than a quick nostalgic detour.

Polygon – 5.5 / 10

The absence of mandatory world bosses is fortunate, because Yooka-Laylee’s combat is a chore. The worst of it is found in the game’s shooting. To get an accurate shot, you need to enter first-person mode by clicking in the left stick. While locked in this mode, you can’t strafe or move at all, leaving you vulnerable in an actual combat situation.

Destructoid – 8 / 10

Although the vast open sandboxes are a sight to behold, especially from a pure design perspective, they run the gamut when it comes to beauty. Some areas are stunning and begged me to linger, while others looked like a tech demo. Over the course of my playthrough I got a creeping sense of budgetary concerns, more so than some other recent Kickstarters, which is a shame.

GamesRadar – 3 / 5

The cracks first start to show, in a tragically fitting case of the wrong kind of period accuracy, with the consistently shonky camera. Long the bane of the genre, the creation of a consistently effective camera system – whether automated or under player control – certainly isn’t an easy task given the ever-changing, omni-directional demands of platforming in a 3D world, but Yooka’s feels at times almost willfully obstructive, prone to stubborn shifts in the wrong direction, particularly (but not exclusively) in tighter areas, and pretty regular, full-blown angle flips at entirely inopportune moments.

Eurogamer – No Score

As is often the case with this kind of humour, the self-awareness is by turns infectious and grating – jokes about unskippable dialogue and quality assurance are only so funny when they occur in a game that does, in fact, feature the odd wodge of unskippable dialogue and a rather unwieldy camera. The aggressively ironic tone also betrays a certain insecurity about whether the type of game Yooka-Laylee aims to be still merits attention, a commitment to making light of the whole enterprise lest it prove surplus to requirements.

Our Thoughts

Obviously, we don’t have our hands on the game because the Switch version hasn’t been released yet, but it sounds like the critics here are divided into two camps. Those that love the campiness of the 3D buddy platformer in the early and late 90s will probably really enjoy Yooka-Laylee, while those who don’t like them found the experience to be grating.

It sounds like Playtonic has re-created the feel of the original Banjo-Kazooie games with the problems and all, so for those missing a collect-a-thon game it’s a total must. Hopefully Playtonic Games will be good about supporting the game post-release, since there do seem to be some technical issues here.

Nintendo eShop Card – $50.00