Yooka-Laylee is an (excellent) adventure game developed by Playtonic Games and published by Team17.
It will be released on April 11th next and is expected on Windows, Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and a little later (without further details) on Nintendo Switch. We were lucky enough to be able to test the game in advance to give you a little preview! NDA obliges, I will not be able to speak to you about everything on the other hand.
A short history of development
Before talking about the game itself, let's do a little reminder of how far the game has come.
It all started on May 1, 2015 when a strange project was born on Kickstarter, initiated by a very young studio then unknown: Playtonic Games. Studio unknown, but those behind it are not! Indeed, the developers who founded Playtonic Games are former members of the "Rareware" studio which has worked (among others) on Donkey Kong Country and above all, Banjo-Kazooie.
Wishing to revive Banjo-Kazooie, but not having been able to recover the rights when they left, the very young studio is launching the Kickstarter promising a new game that will be in the same style as Banjo-Kazooie, both in its gameplay and in his quirky universe. It did not take less for a horde of fans to rush on the fundraising campaign and, in not even one day, the project is funded and explodes the counter by validating all levels in stride, by earning 2 million pounds out of the 75 originally requested.
Two years later, just a few minutes after putting my pads on the controller, I saw myself at the age of 11, on my Nintendo 64 playing Banjo-Kazooie between two games of Super Smash Bross, Goldeneye and Ocarina Of Time.
And you know what ? Banjo-Kazooie's spiritual son is finally here! The studio kept its promise.
History and the world
The game takes us to a strange world where we find ourselves having to fight an ugly capitalist bumblebee and his loyal deputy director, a snake in a jar, who have a Machiavellian plan to do things not very sharp!
Unfortunately, I can't say more, but the story may seem simple and basic, but it is devilishly effective. Yooka-Laylee reminds us that you don't have to have a torturous, complex storyline filled with corpses, blood, wars or other apocalypse to have a great reason to go have fun in our worlds of favorite pixel!
Yooka-Laylee is very loyal to Banjo-Kazooie and he is undeniably his spiritual son. We find ourselves in an adventure and platform game where thewe lead a nice duo, exploring varied worlds, meeting characters more delirious than the others with dialogues full of humor.
The duo therefore consists of Yooka, a chameleon fond of crunchy butterflies and Laylee, a bat a little lazy around the edges who loves to make fun and make fun!
It is together that they go on an adventure to stop the two ugly nasty heads of capitalist companies! We're running Yooka the whole way, Laylee just lays around on her head and acts when necessary.
The game revolves around a large hub central from which we can travel to other worlds. The worlds accessible from this hub are varied: glaciers, snow, tropical zone teeming with ruins ... During our adventures, we can pick up two types of objects, "Feathers" and «Pagies».
Feathers will be extremely numerous in each level, but also very easy to obtain. Feathers will be needed in order to unlock new techniques from the technique vendor.
The second objects them, the pages therefore, are living book pages that will be complicated to obtain. To get them, you will often have to complete puzzles, complete quests, explore the world, etc. They have a very important utility, because they are necessary and obligatory in order not only to unlock New Worlds, but also to unlock New Worlds. les evolve. Because yes, worlds can evolve.
The unlocked worlds will offer basic riddles, puzzles, etc. But we can notice that some accesses are closed, that there are destroyed or ruined monuments, and other things of the kind. To enlarge or repair all this, it will be necessary to use a certain number of pagies. Once done, this not only increases the size of the world in question, but also gives you access to new quests, new puzzles, new puzzles, and even access to new Pagies and Feathers!
On the side of powers, we can unlock for both characters. These will mainly allow access to new places or to be able to perform new types of puzzles. For example, you can quickly unlock a technique that allows Yooka to curl up and roll down the slopes in order to pull them up. Laylee, on the other hand, will unlock the ability to use her sonar as an attack, thus being able to stun enemies or activate certain items.
It will also be possible to unlock toning, which are passive bonuses allowing you to obtain various effects, such as more health, more powerful attacks, reduced stamina consumption for certain techniques and this, depending on your actions in the game. For example, killing enemies with a certain technique, having collected specific objects, killing a certain number of enemies of the same type, having collected pagies of a world, etc.
The levels are therefore filled with puzzles, challenges and other quests of all kinds. We will find ourselves in various situations where it will be necessary to climb to reach a high place, strewn with traps. Or fight a horde of enemies to save a character being cooked in a pot. Or race or even come to the aid of a character straight out of another game!
Of course, the bosses are also there!
But that's not all, because there are games in the game! Thanks to a character straight out of the beginning of 3D, you will be able to try your hand at mini games, something to relax a little between two meals based on butterflies.
During your wanderings, Yooka and Laylee will not always be themselves. Indeed, each level also offers power transform our friendly duo by, for example, a plant or even a snowplow, granting new abilities, allowing you to reach new places, perform new quests, chat with new characters and much more!
In addition to techniques purchased for feathers and transformations, it will be possible to eat flowers in order to grant new capacities to the duo. Eating a flower allows Yooka to use the element related to it. A frozen flower will allow him, for example, to throw ice cream balls. A water flower will make him spit a real geyser while a fire flower will allow him to spit fire like a real dragon!
It will also be possible to absorb an element in order to change Yooka's body composition. For example, if Yooka licks a beehive, his body will become as slimy and sticky as honey, allowing him to move around without slipping over very slippery areas. When eating a cannonball, it will become as heavy as lead and thus be able to pass through areas with strong drafts. He will even be able to eat an ember, making him completely immune to fire and flames.
Of course, this all only has a temporary duration, and at times it will be a real race against time between ingesting and reaching the area to use the new ability.
As I have written several times already, le game is full of humor. Each dialogue is a new opportunity to pull out a joke, make self-mockery, etc. The humor is really good-natured, for all audiences and is in no way "heavy". The humor affects, of course, mainly the world of video games.
I said it before, but I say it again, Banjo-Kazooie's spiritual son is finally here! And it is a total success! The game is excellent, funny, entertaining, full of humor and, barely the controller in hand, we are directly immersed in this delirious world and we have fun without the fuss. The developers have kept their promises, something that has become rare enough in the world of video games to be underlined. Thanks to Yookai-Laylee, the platform-3D genre is (finally) back. A genre that has been more or less abandoned for the past 15 years and that is sorely lacking for fans of the genre.
If you like this style of play, don't hesitate, jump on it and buy it as soon as it is released.
And finally, here are some more captures: