Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair Xbox One Review

December 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Features, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Team17  Developer: Playtonic Games  Genre: Platformer  Players: 1

Age Rating: 3+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4, Nintendo Switch

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is very different than its predecessor; for those expecting more of the same will be disappointed. Gone is the wide, open exploration and, instead, the game has now been broken down into simple side-scrolling platforming levels joined together by a single large hub world. While managing to keep some aspects from the original, the sequel has shaken things up by making gameplay a lot more linear, and it is all the better for it.

That’s not to say there is no exploration; the hub world – or overworld, as it is called here – has its hidden secrets, as do the levels themselves. Throughout each level you can collect a total of 5 hidden coins – used to unlock ‘paywalls’ in the overworld –  as well as the many golden quills, and the overworld features puzzles as well as hidden tonics, these being used to unlock extra character abilities, therefore enhancing gameplay – but at the risk of having a lesser multiplier – or to give the overall style of the game a different aesthetic.


It’s not always about getting from A to B. Sometimes you’ll be running away from something, other times you’ll be treasure hunting.

The overworld is bright and colourful, and even though there are hidden secrets, you’re very much set on the straight and narrow, and as you walk around, you can never stray too far from the beaten path. You’ll come across equally colourful characters – returning from the previous game – and they will offer you clues to hidden areas as well as additional challenges.The levels themselves are also vibrant and colourful, and offer a lot of challenge, some more difficult than others. Levels are littered with obstacles and there’s no real finesse to how you approach them, and in a game that is very much about trial and error, the gameplay is very hit and miss. Levels here certainly hark back to times when games were much more difficult to complete, and you’ll find yourself often repeating sections as you learn the layout and progress.

And while it’s also not an entirely new concept, each level has two versions: a main level and then a State Change level. A State Change is when certain natural elements effect the way the level behaves. As an example, pouring water around a book – a book being the entrance to a level – will create a stage that now has lots of water in it, and water-related obstacles, where previously it had little or none. The level will also have a slightly altered layout, meaning you need to alter your approach to reaching the goal. In order to activate the State Change, Yooka and Laylee will usually have to complete a puzzle in the overworld.

Another interesting idea here is that when playing any of the side-scrolling levels, Laylee now acts as a kind of extra life. If you are hit by an enemy, she will break away from Yooka and will start to panic, as do you as you try and catch her. If you are unsuccessful in capturing Laylee, she will fly away, and then another hit means an instant kill. Catching Laylee in time will you give back that extra life, and you find yourself become very dependant on not losing your sidekick.

The colourful Ghost quills also make a return, and they all have their own way of releasing those all-important golden quills, some, again, more challenging than others. If you manage to complete the challenges they offer, you’ll be rewarded with an extra large quill, though they sometimes drop other important goodies too. Quills act as currency in the overworld, and can be used to buy the many tonics that you discover throughout the game. Yes, while it seems more logical to discover a tonic and be able to make use of it immediately, it seems the developers felt that they needed more of a use for the quills, and so the tonics, once found, have to be bought. It’s a strange way to incorporate the tonics, as usually a found ‘item’ is, in itself, the reward for discovering it, yet here you are made to find it and then pay for it before you can make use of it.

The music in the game is just as quirky as the levels.

What is most important to find is the hidden coins in each level. These are given to Trowzer who will unlock a paywall – walls that prevent you from reaching certain areas of the overworld, therefore cutting off your access to other levels. Most coins are easy enough to discover if you are brave enough to stray slightly from the main route.

The main purpose of completing levels is to rescue a bee, in order to form a ‘beetalion’ who will act as lives when you attempt the Impossible Lair. There are a total of 48 bees to collect, most being found in the levels, but some hidden about the overworld too.

The Impossible Lair of the title is in itself a large level that contains boss fights and many other tricky obstacles for you to tackle. It is the most difficult level in the game, and can be attempted at any point. There are no checkpoints, has 4 boss fights, and the level can last quite a while. If you lose, you have to start all over again, with a Yooka-Laylee balloon showing the location of your previous demise. Only the most determined of players will get through.

The idea of the Impossible Lair nicely brings together the entire game; it gives meaning to collecting the bees, as they give you a fighting chance to complete the Lair, and makes them much more valuable as you have taken the time to work for them. It is an interesting take on the idea of ‘lives’ in games as we have come to know them.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a challenging feat, and I am sure completing the Impossible Lair will give many a great sense of achievement, something I wouldn’t know about as, thusfar, I have not been able to complete the stage. The game is substantial, offering 40 levels to complete, excluding the Impossible Lair, and the overall game is a mix of difficulties, from puzzles in the overworld that are, in contrast to the levels, fairly easy to complete, and the levels truly putting your platforming skills and reflexes to the test.