The reviews are in for Playtonic's Yooka-Laylee, and opinions on the collectable-heavy 3D platformer are … mixed.
Scores for the game range from glowing (XBLA Fans calls it a must-buy) to dismal (Games reviewer Jim Sterling calls it an effing disaster). There are more than a few middle-of-the-road reviews as well.
I reviewed Yooka-Laylee for USgamer, and I can attest it's a difficult game to score. For better or worse, many of Yooka-Laylee's reviews are based on how well collect-a-thon platformers work – or if they work at all – in the modern age of gaming. It's no wonder the Metacritic pages for Yooka-Laylee show more red, yellow, and green than a traffic signal gone mad with electric rabies.
As someone who enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie when it was the new hotness, I tried to look at Yooka-Laylee through retro-goggles. I assumed, probably rightly, that anyone looking forward to the game is excited because they're into Rare-style googly eyes, bad jokes, garbed cartoon voices, and reams of shiny things to collect.
I think Yooka-Laylee does a good job carrying on Rare's legacy -- but I dinged the game's final score because it has myriad technical issues. The camera's bad, flying is cumbersome, I ran into significant bugs, and the hitching framerate on the Xbox One makes platforming difficult at times.
I suggested at least a few of Yooka-Laylee's issues can be fixed through patches, and Playtonic's already working to shore up what it can before the game launches on April 11. Playtonic addressed and fixed specific bugs in an email it sent out earlier today, plus it mentions general improvements, including:
- "Performance improvements to various camera transitions in the introductory cut scene"
- "Performance improvements to Shipwreck Creek and Hivory Towers. Various areas have been improved including camera movement"
- "Performance improvements when using the light beam in the Icymetric Palace within Glitterglaze Glacier"
- "Performance improvements during the House of Cards ball roll course in Capital Cashino"
- "Performance improvements in the Bee-Bop arcade game"
The patch is currently live, but at the time of this writing, I haven't had time to go back and play the new-and-improved Yooka-Laylee. That said, I doubt these fixes alone are enough to make me re-consider my score. The patch notes mention the camera has been improved in "various areas," but I fought with the camera on a near-constant basis – and the notes don't mention the specific bug I encountered in my own playthrough. I chronicle the event in my review, but to reiterate, the game soft-locked on me when I first attempted to fly near the top of Hivory Towers.
Still, it's good to see Playtonic is on top of fixing Yooka-Laylee's issues. I'm confident that Banjo-Kazooie fans will have a pleasant time with the duo's non-mammalian counterparts.
(Wait – "Bats are mammals?" You sure? I thought they were bugs. Oh man.)