Back in 2015, a band of ex-Rare employees formed a company named Playtonic Games. After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, they funded and developed Yooka-Laylee, a game that was a love letter to the collect-a-thon 3D platformers of the late 1990’s. While the final product divided critics and fans down the middle, there was little denying that Playtonic were a company that was dedicated to its craft. A few years later, they have turned their attention to another beloved platformer genre, with a spin off title they have named Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair.
After hearing of trouble in the Royal Stingdom, Yooka and Laylee arrive to find that the evil Capital B. has returned. This time, the wicked insect has used a device known as the Hive Mind to capture every member of the Beetallion, the stingdom’s royal security force, and set up a fortress he has named The Impossible Lair. After being assisted by Queen Phoebee, our chameleon and bat team must travel through the various areas of the stingdom to free the Beetallion, so they can take down Capital B. for the second time. Although it takes more of a backseat this time around, the storyline and characters of the Yooka-Laylee universe are just as humourous and endearing as ever in The Impossible Lair. Laylee’s sarcastic comments balance Yooka’s straight guy persona almost perfectly, alongside the sneaky salesman serpent Trowser and the comically apt ineptitude of the main villain.
Just as the original Yooka-Laylee used Banjo-Kazooie as a template for its gameplay style, The Impossible Lair borrows several elements from another of Playtonic Game’s accolades, namely the Donkey Kong Country franchise. Each of the twenty chapters, which are the game’s name for levels, are 2.5D platformer stages filled with bottomless pits, collectable T.W.I.T coins and stage gimmicks such as moving blocks and grinding rails that require split second timing to be navigated successfully. As you may expect from Rare’s alumni staff, the level designs are vibrant, colourful and provide just the right amount of challenge. Yooka and Laylee retain some of the special moves from the previous adventure, with skills such as the Barrel Roll and the Buddy Slam providing essential to navigating and uncovering every level’s secret treasures.