Disclaimer: The author of this post is a backer of the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter campaign.
Yooka-Laylee is the answer to a question – do gamers still want games from the genres that were popular decades ago, but have since fallen by the wayside? In this case, the genre is the 3D platformers that were popular as the medium made its first moves into 3D gaming as a whole. Given the response to the games Kickstarter campaign – and the popularity of its booth at EGX – the answer is an emphatic yes.
Yooka-Laylee was, at the time of its campaign, the fastest game in the history of Kickstarter to reach $1 million, hitting that goal in 21 hours. It’s also attempting to carry on the legacy of the giants of the 3D platforming genre, games such as Banjo-Kazooie. It’s doing so under the watchful eye of Playtonic Games, a studio formed by ex-Rare developers who had a hand in crafting some of the most well-regarded games of the genre it’s attempting to resurrect (including Banjo-Kazooie).
Of course, it’s also a video game. EGX represented the first time the public could try an actual part of the game. A demo level has been released to Kickstarter backers of a certain tier to demonstrate the games mechanics, but this was the first time anyone could put those mechanics to work in a section of Yooka-Laylee itself.
That game will be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever played a 3D platformer before. The EGX demo dropped me into a world without much context. I wasn’t given a story to follow, merely a playground in which to try out the game. There were collectables to find, secrets to uncover, characters to interact with and plenty of platforms for me to conquer.
If what I played at EGX is an indication of the full experience, Yooka-Laylee is everything I wanted. The characters that I met, including its pair of protagonists, are wonderful, cute and funny. I’m also not sure how Playtonic stuffed as many puns into its demo as it did.
The level I got to experience in the demo was densely packed with things to do and see. I had fifteen minutes with the game and was barely able to scratch the surface of what was available. I navigated some platforms and fire hazards to ascend to the top of a castle. I rescued a skeleton from being cooked. I got to the top of a second castle. I tried to find five ghosts that were hidden throughout the area I was in (but could only manage three).
From a gameplay perspective, everything almost seemed to be exactly where I left it from the last time I played a 3D platformer. I had access to a whole host of moves and abilities that helped me with both exploration and combat. In short, my fifteen minutes with Yooka-Laylee was nothing short of marvellous and did a good job of whetting my appetite for the full game.
Plus I hear Shovel Knight is making a cameo.
Yooka-Laylee is scheduled to launch in March 2017 on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Wii U.