Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a 2019 platform video game developed by British studio Playtonic Games and published by Team17 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Yooka and Laylee have entered the Royal Stingdom where they find Capital B. causing trouble. Queen Phoebee offers her royal Beetalion to support the duo, only for Captial B. to capture the Beetalion and spread them across the land then retreat into his secret base "The Impossible Lair".
Yooka and Laylee initially attempt to traverse The Impossible Lair but quickly fail and believe the gauntlet to be impossible, now they must travel the Royal Stingdom to rescue the Beetalion and have them assist the two in crossing the Impossible Lair to face Captial B. once more.
Why It Rocks
- While the first Yooka-Laylee game drew inspiration from old school 3D collect-a-thons, The Impossible Lair draws its inspiration from newer Donkey Kong Country games while adding its own twists to give it its own identity and not be a DKC clone.
- The game's final level, the namesake Impossible Lair, can be faced at any time as soon as the game starts, with the level being very long, lacking checkpoints, and extremely difficult to complete. Progressing through the game and clearing levels to release the Beetalion members grants the player one additional hit point for each rescued Beetalion to increase their chances at clearing the Impossible Lair, however nothing stops the player from attempting the challenge whenever they want and theoretically clearing it without any Beetalion if they're skilled enough.
- Colorful presentation with lots of cartoony visuals and a wonderful soundtrack composed by Grant Kirkhope, David Wise, Matt Griffin, and Dan Murdoch.
- In a new twist to the original game's "expansion" mechanic where Worlds became bigger, every level in The Impossible Lair has an alternate version that can be unlocked by solving a puzzle in the overworld. The alternate version of each level significantly changes the aesthetic look, adds new gimmicks, and changes the level design, effectively creating an entirely new level while still being recognizable as the same area as the normal version.
- The game features an overworld from a top down perspective in a similar fashion to Donkey Kong Country 3. On top of accessing levels, the overworld has lots of secrets to discover, including the puzzles required to unlock the alternate versions of each level.
- Challenging difficulty with a clever level design that doesn't become unfair and makes good use of Yooka's relatively simple moveset. This is benefited with a generous checkpoint system so the levels are not overly punishing.
- If the player dies too many times in one area, they are given the option to skip to the next checkpoint. This is 100% optional and comes with the penalty of missing any important collectibles found in the area they skipped.
- The health system now functions differently. Now when the player gets hit Laylee flies off for a few seconds before disappearing, then if the player gets hit again without Laylee they die, however if the player is able to catch Laylee before she disappears they recover her and get back the additional hit point.
- As an additional punishment for taking damage, if Yooka loses Laylee he also loses some of his moveset that requires Laylee's presence
- Each level has five T.W.I.T. coins that can be used to unlock new sections of the hub world by opening gates hilariously named "Paywalls".
- Good swimming controls that make the underwater sections smooth and fast paced.
- Quills are reworked into coin style collectibles that can be used as currency to purchase Tonics, special perks which modify Yooka and Laylee's abilities. Tonic effects range from stat boots, negative effects that increase difficulty, to fun effects like adding a Game Boy filter or Big Head mode.
- Using beneficial Tonics reduces the amount of Quills you get at the end of a level, while using negative Tonics increases the amount instead, offering a nice risk & reward system.
- Ghost Quills can be found across levels, they offer mini challenges that reward the player with lots of Quills and sometimes guide the player towards a T.W.I.T. coin.
- Most characters from the first game return with new roles either as cameos or as supporting characters that help the player progress through the overworld.
- While the presentation is great, the levels can lack some aesthetic variety, with the same motifs being reused in multiple levels.
- Occasional overuse of bee related puns.
- Some loading screens are rather long.
- There's a secret Tonic that can only be obtained by clearing the Impossible Lair on the very first attempt without ever entering the main overworld. Not only is this extremely difficult, you only have one single chance per save file.
- This Tonic is not required for 100% completion nor obtaining a Platinum Trophy on the PS4 version
- Use the Tonic that gives the enemies an additional hit point, as it gives you a X1.5 Quill multiplier which is very helpful for quickly farming Quills and the extra hit point doesn't make the enemies that much harder to deal with. The extra hit point also makes it easier to reach some areas that require jumping on an enemy at a specific timing.
- During the boss fights against Captial B, keep in mind that his staff damages you so avoid it when attempting to jump on Capital B.
- The Impossible Lair has three main sections and a final escape sequence, keep this in mind when attempting the gauntlet to have an idea of how many Beetalions you should keep at the end of each section.
- Try to avoid taking damage as much as possible during the Capital B boss fights, as otherwise you'll lose a lot of Beetalions which you'll likely need for the tougher platforming sections.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair was positively received upon release, praising it's colorful visuals and solid gameplay managing to be reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country games while still being more original on its own compared to the first game which critics felt was too close to its own inspiration.
Playtonic Games had stated that they have more plans for the Yooka Laylee IP.
- In the ending cutscene of the first Yooka-Laylee game Capital B is defeated by being trapped in a Grand Tome that then got lost in Hivory Towers. Playtonic Games confirmed that said Grand Tome was the Royal Stingdom, the main setting for the sequel.