Ok, so I’m about 3 to 4 hours in. I’ve opened up the first level (Tribal) and have made a start on level 2 (Ice).
I’m enjoying it, so that’s good. It’s definitely a game that gives you what it states on the tin. And I think that might be the problem as to why a decent number of reviews have been negative. I described YL to my friends as basically an N64 game with HD graphics. There is no evolution of the genre, no new mechanics, no new features. If there was a mod to change the two main characters into Banjo Kazooie, I reckon I could easily convince someone that this was an unreleased N64 BK3 rom enhanced with emulator filters.
Anyway, I’m going to focus on the things I don’t like rather than the things I do mostly because they are the things that I would like to see either fixed or done better in a YL sequel. Besides, I like the base premise of running around, exploring and collecting stuff, so there’s not much to say about that tbh other than, good job!
For me, the major problems with YL are it’s characters, pacing, story and by extension, the motivations that are given to the player.
Yooka is decent enough as a character. I don’t dislike him in any way (other than his voice which is quite irritating). But then, I’m not sure I have any feelings towards him. He’s no Banjo, that’s for sure. I loved banjo. He looked funny, he was quirky, he walked and ran in a funny way and he was generally just a really likeable player character. Yooka is just the character I control in the game and not much more. I first clocked this about him when I saw the original concept art and I did think at that time that maybe he wasn’t strong enough and as it turns out, for me at least, he isn’t.
Laylee fairs slightly better for me. I like the look of her and think she’s a really good side kick. She doesn’t do quite enough for me as Kazooie did for Banjo, but that might change as I unlock more abilities. Regardless, I’m quite happy with her.
Capital B. Erm. Ok. Let’s just lay it on the line. I don’t like him. I haven’t liked him since the first moment I saw him. He’s a really weak, cheap knock off character and he has no interest for me. He just reminds me way too much of Gru from Despicable me and I can’t get over that. He’s not a candle to Grunty who was an awesome main bad gal.
Trowzer. Yeh, he’s good. I like him. I wish he had more animations and I wish he was a bit more engaging – I don’t like that he sells you abilities, I would have preferred him to teach them to you like Bottles did but that’s a design thing. As a character, like.
Although I like the look of Dr Quack, he again feels like a cheap knock off of Grunty from Nuts ‘n Bolts meets Daffy Duck. I’m ok with him, but again, just wish he was more engaging than he is.
So, the characters are a mixed bag in general. But one thing that isn’t helping them is their dialogue as a direct result of the weak storyline. In BK, it’s a clichéd but very clear plot – Banjo’s sister gets kidnapped by Grunty and you have to rescue her. Whilst I’m not advocating a repeat of that plot (although tbh, I wouldn’t have minded) the plot here is pretty bland and uninteresting. You have to run around the offices of Captial B’s business in order to stop him sucking in the worlds books. It’s not personal, it’s not that relevant, it’s not very relatable and frankly, I’m not sure I really care. This weak plot has major knock on effects. It means that many of the characters you meet don’t really have much interesting to say as they can’t really motivate you much. It also means that you are in the Capital B’s offices and this jars with the notion of different themed levels. So whilst you’re jumping into the books to access the levels, there is no real relevance there. You don’t know what the book is, the concept of that book plays no part other than as a portal. I wish they had thought more about this story theme. It would have been great to work my way through this office/factory, finding books, entering the stories, meeting the characters and solving/playing through the narrative in order to reach the ending and ‘save’ it. But, none of that context is offered so again, there’s very little motivation – I’m just entering a differently themed level, fighting slightly different versions of the base enemies, collecting gold quills and pagies that have nothing to do with the book I’ve jumped into.
There just doesn’t seem much of a point to anything and I think this is the games’ biggest flaw – the gameplay is to collect gold quills and rescue pagies and really, the only motivation is your desire to collect gold quills and rescue pagies for no reason other than they’re there. This is highlighted by the way in which the game lacks well designed pacing to how you come across characters and challenges – they are literally there, in-your-face, from the minute you enter the game. I think within 5 minutes of starting I met a character who just told me to do something. No reason why, just do it. Then I met a retro coin op character who wanted me to play his coin op. No reason why, just play it. These characters and their challenges had no pacing and the fact this was the beginning of the game jarred with their lack of context (had they been met later, I think that would have been fine).
All in all, I’ll keep playing and maybe some of the things I’m not enjoying will get better. We’ll see. I intend to update this review as I get further into the game.