Yooka-Laylee is back but it feels a bit different than before. Rather than taking its form as a 3D platformer, it’s now a 2.5D sidescroller. Fear not, however, as this game feels great and even a bit better than its predecessor. The game’s personality carries over to this one, as well as some familiar faces. With its lively 3D overworld, varied level design, and smooth controls, Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair is sure to bring loads of joy to those who play it. Playtonic has delivered an experience that proves that they are a force to be reckoned with in terms of nostalgia and quality releases.

Varied Level Designs

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair picks up a little after the events of the original game. Capital B has returned and taken the Royal Bee-talion to his Impossible Lair. Players are then tasked with rescuing members of the Royal Bee Guard to help guide them through the Impossible Lair and save the world from a vicious takeover. It’s a fairly simple storyline but that’s not what’s going to keep you invested for the long haul. The gameplay feels quite varied throughout the course of this title. There are 40 levels to run through but in reality, it’s actually 20 Chapters alongside 20 altered versions of them. Going through the main overworld and solving various puzzles causes certain elemental effects on the environment. For example, spilling a pot of sticky sugar on the chapter book causes the world to be filled with sticky residue. These create new unique areas that feel varied and not like a quick reskin of a level.

Running around in the game’s overworld also brings with it a bit of fun. There are the main chapters but each does have its alternate forms, which must be revealed. Players have to explore the environment a bit and do some puzzle-solving in order to experience both types. Tonics are also scattered in these areas which can add some help to modify gameplay kind of like cheat codes. Screen filters, big head mode, and other enhancers are all available to select from. This means Yooka and Laylee can look like an old Noir film while also having a few extra seconds of invincibility after being hit. These two aspects make the overworld a joy to explore, but it’s not all fun and games at times. A “paywall” is erected after certain areas are discovered. Users have to fork over special coins found in a level to pay and unlock it. Its mere existence is a shot at microtransactions yet it ultimately feels just the same. Having to replay a level in search of one of five coins just to advance is tedious and can become a headache. There are also Challenge Maps that must be completed in order to alter the overworld’s environment to help keep the exploration going. Yet, there is no real challenge to them. At first they’re a novelty but eventually, it grows a bit stale since you know what’s coming.

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Not Too Easy, Not Too Hard

What helps the game’s levels are its difficulty. Levels aren’t too tough yet they don’t feel too easy. It can come off as just right at times. There are no huge difficulty spikes in latter portions of the game as seen in other platformers. It also helps that checkpoints aren’t sparse, they’re easy to be found which makes death less consequential. However, this can also be a bit detrimental to the title. See, it’s possible to beat the game in the opening sequence. The Impossible Lair is presented to the player from the start and can be attempted at any point in a playthrough. It’s a steep learning curve and can only really be completed through the help of the Royal Bees, which block any and all attacks on the player. Playing all of the main chapters and earning bees helps in mastering the controls and design but with no ramp-ups in difficulty, it’s tough to face the Impossible Lair. It has garnered its name for a reason in that it feels impossible. The lair is fairly long and throws everything at the player, even if they are never prepared for it. It’s nice that you’re able to beat the game at any point before finishing levels, but even after completing the main chapters you won’t feel ready.

Don’t feel discouraged though. Even if you aren’t going to try getting through the impossible lair or just give up since there are no checkpoints and must be completed in one run, the levels more than makeup for it. Not only is each level incredibly varied, but the difficulty is also fair and is just as great as others in its genre. Traversing through levels carries a sense of joy and nostalgia that has been missing from recent 2.5D platformers. Playtonic has done an incredible job of creating this game’s atmosphere. Running from giant sawblades to even the underwater levels all feel fantastic. It helps that the game has a tight control scheme but environments just feel alive. The graphics and soundtrack all are able to come together to make this an enjoyable title and one that is sure to impress.

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Excellent Control Scheme

For those that have played the original title, the control scheme remains the same except translated into a 2.5D experience. Using these controls are perfect for this title and is implemented very nicely. At first, you’ll take the moves at face value but as the experience wages on, combos are going to be strung together to complete various platforming sequences. Dashing towards a group of enemies while jumping on their heads and spinning mid-air to lightly land without a scratch is such a satisfying experience. Never was there an issue with controls feeling loose and are great on both the analog stick and D-pad. It also is fantastic as there are loads of collectibles hidden in tough to reach areas. Quills and the aforementioned coins are all scattered through the area but can be reached through mastery of the controls.

Anyone wondering whether Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair runs well on Switch can rest assured that yes, it feels great. Booting up the game does take a bit of time that feels longer than necessary but that was the only lengthy loading time experienced. Loading levels and going in and out of areas are quick and never cumbersome. There are also no slowdowns or graphical hiccups that hinder the overall experience. Graphics don’t particularly look amazing in docked, though, but it doesn’t do enough to hurt the product as a whole. It plays well in both handheld and docked mode, with handheld running at 60 fps. It’s a smooth experience and is an excellent version of the game.

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Much like the original title, this game is a fantastic rendition of modern 2D platformers while paying a bit of an homage to the greats, such as Donkey Kong Country. Although the Impossible Lair and Paywall hold this title back from being a near-perfect experience,  its levels, and environment more than makeup for it. Playtonic Games has crafted a great love letter to the genre and it plays incredibly well. There are loads to keep coming back to in terms of exploration and gameplay but its a true sense of joy is what continuously put a smile on my face. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a fun title that can be played through for quite some time.


Thank you to Team 17 for providing us with a review code!

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair Review (Nintendo Switch)
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is another great entry in the 2.5D platformer genre.
Overall Score8.5
  • Varied Level Design
  • Large Overworld Worth Exploring
  • Joyous Atmosphere
  • Impossible Lair is Very Impossible
  • Need to Collect Coins to Advance
  • Challenge Levels Not Challenging
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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