2 years ago I reviewed Yooka-Laylee, the 3D platformer that looked to recapture the magic of early 3D games like Banjo-Kazooie. Not being a fan of that style of game, I was blown away by how much I ended up enjoying Yooka-Laylee. With a great cast of characters and fun levels it was a blast to play. To this day I still can’t get over Trowzer the snake! When I heard the announcement of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair during E3 2019 I was instantly excited! Better yet I found out that the appointment I had scheduled for an unannounced game with Team 17 prior to E3 was for Yooka-Laylee, score!
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a continuation of the first game only this time it’s a sidescroller! Well kinda, you see Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair combines sidescrolling levels with a top down overworld to explore. The evil Capital B has taken over the Bee Kingdom from Queen B and has constructed a lair so maniacal it is thought to be unbeatable. So much confidence has been placed in the lair that the front door has even been left wide open. Yes, right from the beginning of the game you can attempt to conquer the impossible lair, and I can’t wait to see speedrunners try! The Lair includes no checkpoints, so it is expected that rushing right in from the start will see you die before you make it 5% through, sending you back to the beginning.
To help you get through the lair players will need to complete the games levels to free a trapped bee who will then help out within the lair. Each bee is an extra hit players can take before being defeated. Solving puzzles in the overworld will also alter the layout of previously completed levels and in turn provides another bee to rescue. Each level will also be filled with 5 collectible coins that “serve an important purpose” which has yet to be revealed. Finding these coins will require exploration and discovery of hidden locations within each level. Quills also make a return acting as a type of in-game currency. Yooka and Laylee don’t learn new moves in this adventure so I am interested in seeing what the shop will provide. I was also told Trowzers would be returning so I can’t wait!
During my hands on time with the game at E3 I was able to play through the games first level and my oh my did it feel good to play! First off controls were very responsive and might be some of the best I have felt in a platformer in ages. Like the original Yooka-Laylee, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair features vibrant colorful artwork that is a joy to look at! Each level has its own unique design and theme and each is wonderfully conveyed. On top of the artwork is the amazing musical score that really set the mood for each level we got to preview. But, back to gameplay, once again all of the players abilities are available right from the first level and as such level one is a great tutorial level. Players will be able to jump, air spin, or roll through enemies. There is a fluidity to the movement that made it even more enjoyable. After executing a roll waiting roughly 1 second before pressing the button again will result in a boosted roll. This boosted roll can be used to both defeat enemies and traverse terrain.
Various checkpoints exist within each level and when a player is defeated they will be taken back to their last visited checkpoint. Playtonic hopes to make Impossible Lair accessible to as many players as possible and as such no lives are used in the game. If a player happens to come up against a particularly hard checkpoint a certain number of deaths will also trigger an option to skip ahead one checkpoint. while this will help keep players from getting stuck it also means any collectibles that might have lay between checkpoints will be forfeited. Life in Yooka-Laylee is handled by a 2 hit system. When you begin you have Yooka and Laylee at your disposal. If you take a hit Laylee will fly off and start flying around the area. From here you can try to catch Laylee or continue on with just Yooka. If you move on without Laylee you will lose access to some abilities! If you take another hit as Yooka you will be reset to the last checkpoint.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is scheduled to be released sometime in 2019 for PC, PS4 Switch and Xbox One. Playtonic has also confirmed that each console version of the game will receive a physical release unlike the originals download only approach. For all lovers of platform titles keep an eye out for more Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair coverage as we get closer to release!