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Find out if Yooka-Laylee is trash or a gem. Transcribed review after the jump!

Too much collecting

I know I just started making these again but this Indie Bit is going to break from tradition. I’ve seen and heard a lot of complaints about how long Yooka-Laylee is. More to the point: how much collecting you have to do. To me, that sounds a lot like complaining about loot in an MMO or shooting in an FPS.

And the next thing that pops into anyone’s mind who has a fond spot for Banjo-Kazooie has to be if these gamers get what they were buying. It’s undoubtedly a case-by-case situation but the next question that sprung up for me was “How much is too much?”

In a genre such as collect-a-thon, where the only objective is firmly baked into the name, can a developer go too insane with all the trinkets, doodads, and gems the player is expected to discover?

The claim is that Yooka-Laylee takes over twenty hours of collecting to reach its climax. By comparison, according to How Long to Beat, Banjo-Kazooie’s main story and side attractions take 14 and a half hours to beat. Banjo-Tooie’s requires 21 hours on average.

That’s between 5 to 10 hours of additional content in this game compared to the Banjo series. That’s either a chorus of angels or a ticket to hell depending on who you are. Now, to make a complete admission, I’ve only now reached the second world after unlocking and then expanding the first and the laundry list of items to collect and places still to explore is daunting at best. Reaching just the second hour, I was already starting to question if I could keep it up.

What-not! My Favorite Character
My favorite character in all of Yooka-Laylee.

But I don’t blame the collecting.

Yooka-Laylee managed to transform me. I was suddenly eight years old, controller in hand, blinking indifferently at the aging clock. I didn’t want it to end. In fact, I had all the time in the world to collect everything I could.

The characters are all unique. Their blubbering dialogue quickly goes from tedious to heartwarming. It’s like remembering a forgotten language.

The jokes and puns almost always had me grinning, but here’s where it starts go wrong. Playtonic’s desire to call back to the old days wore thin by the end of the first world. There’s a fine line between homage and obsession, and Yooka-Laylee crosses it at least once or twice.

Forgivable, of course, except that it’s a constant reminder of what used to be. The endless doses of nostalgia are circumvented by a constant, quiet whisper that “We’re stuck in the past. Save us.

Yooka-Laylee has a Broken Lens

But what makes matters worse is that the camera struggles to act like an adult. More often, it’s an unruly and unpredictable teenager banging against everything in the world and suddenly steals full control of itself without a moment of warning. It’s shocking. For a team of supposed veterans, they should know how vital a tolerable camera is. Not only that but, when this does happen, the controls don’t translate as well as they should.

You want to know how I know that? Because I also recently plowed through several hours of Nier Automata–another game that has no issue switching camera and control schemes on the fly, and that felt more natural than breathing most of the time.

Nier: Automata
Nier Automata switches cameras and controls the right way.

Several parts of Yooka-Laylee shine. They sing, even. But archaic design choices make the game hobble. What should feel like a trip to Disney World starts to look more like Wisney Dorld. The camera can no doubt be fixed with a patch, and maybe my opinion will change if it’s still such a chore to explore certain places afterward.

But, as of now, the gears are starting to grind. My tires are losing air. I don’t want them to. The clock has only struck 9pm and my mom’s ordering me to get in bed for school the next day. I’m okay with that. No need to sneak out of bed for a secret play session. I’ll just come back to Yooka-Laylee later, if I get the chance.