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Review

Yooka-Laylee Review

  • First Released Apr 5, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Apr 4, 2017
  • XONE

Missing notes.

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As a spiritual successor to 3D platformer Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee really does capture the cheeky personality of its predecessor. It doesn’t introduce many new ideas, but it does rework the existing formula, creating a far less linear version of the N64 collectathon. Ultimately, though, bloated levels and a largely uncooperative camera keep Yooka-Laylee from being more than just a nostalgia trip.

The adventure begins when corporate president Capital B steals a book’s golden pages, called Pagies, from a lizard and bat named Yooka and Laylee. The pair figure that the Pagies must be valuable if someone would bother to steal them, so of course they decide to enter Capital B’s building to get them back. That hub area, Hivory Towers, splits into five themed worlds with a variety of collectibles to find, including Pagies, currency-like Quills, and powerups.

Yooka-Laylee is about finding collectibles first and foremost, and platforming takes somewhat of a backseat. You can find Quills out in the open, and you unlock Pagies by completing a variety of tasks, from solving simple puzzles to playing a round of golf to, of course, platforming. The focus on a wide range of activities instead of just platforming is actually a good thing, because the camera has a nasty habit of getting in your way when you're exploring levels. It locks into place at seemingly random points and even swings wildly in tough spots, making the platforming challenges that are there terribly frustrating and time-consuming. When most of your time goes toward the collectibles that are the least fun to get, that’s a problem. Once I unlocked the ability to fly for limited periods of time, I started cheating to completely get around tricky platforming sections. However, it’s worth noting that swimming doesn’t suck in Yooka-Laylee, and I didn’t dread underwater sections the way I do in Banjo-Kazooie. Movement in water is quick and easy, so exploring in and around water isn’t a chore.

I most consistently enjoyed the hub world, where the powerup collectibles are hidden in clever spots and the Pagies are locked behind challenging puzzles that make good use of the moves and techniques you pick up in the discrete worlds. Those worlds also have their strong puzzles, but they’re less consistent.

There are only five levels, none of which have a terribly original theme. The first world is “tribal”-themed, for example, which was also the case in both Banjo-Kazooie and -Tooie. The casino level is the weakest of the five; it introduces a new kind of collectible that can be exchanged for Pagies, adding an unnecessary layer to the collecting process. But the rest of the levels lay out their collectibles well, and finding all 200 Quills in a level always gave me a sense of pride.

No Caption Provided
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In contrast to the established Banjo formula, each of the levels can be expanded once, and you can visit each of them in pretty much any order you want. That open structure allows you to control the pace of the adventure since you don’t have to stay stuck on a Pagie or puzzle--you can move on to another world where you might learn a move or strategy that will help you elsewhere. That also makes returning to a world you’ve already visited more rewarding. When you’ve found 20 of the 25 Pagies in a world and are sure there was nothing else you could possibly do to find the rest, coming back to that area with fresh eyes and seeing what you didn’t before is its own special kind of achievement.

The other update to the Banjo formula--being able to expand worlds--is less successful. Each of the base worlds is clearly incomplete, but expanding them doesn’t necessarily improve them. Because most of them have additions in multiple areas and directions, their layouts are hard to follow, and just figuring out where you haven’t been yet can be tedious. They’re hard to parse in the same way that N64-era levels were because they’re open-ish but sectioned off in unnatural places with no landmarks or visual aid to guide you. The snow level in particular is broken up into a bunch of areas that connect in bizarre ways, and even after several hours exploring it, I’m not entirely sure which caves connect to which parts.

Much like the level design itself, the boss fights in each world feel stale and outdated. Each boss up through the end of the game follows a very simple structure: you figure out their attack strategy, hit them a couple times until they change up that strategy, and repeat maybe three times until they’re dead. But since you don’t need all the Pagies to actually beat the game, these bosses are as optional as any other individual Pagie.

Coming back to a level with fresh eyes and seeing what you didn’t before is its own special kind of achievement.

20 hours of hunting collectibles and fighting simple bosses later, I had found the bare minimum amount of Pagies necessary to move on to the end of the game and couldn’t justify finding any more than that. The ones I hadn’t yet collected were not worth either the time it would take or the frustration I’d have to endure to get them.

I stayed as long as I did because of my own nostalgia. Although there aren’t references outright, Yooka-Laylee has plenty of Banjo parallels. The lizard-and-bat duo are nearly identical in personality to Banjo and Kazooie, with Laylee making the majority of the snarky comments and Yooka being the voice of reason. On top of that, the collectibles and moves are very similar in function to their counterparts in the Banjo games, and the music features many of the same familiar motifs. But Yooka-Laylee also lacks new ideas, and the twists it introduces aren’t entirely successful.

Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee’s best and worst aspects come directly from its predecessor. Despite attempts at modernizing the formula, its style of gameplay is still outdated, and it doesn’t stay challenging or interesting for long as a result. But if you’re looking for a faithful return to the Banjo-Kazooie formula, Yooka-Laylee certainly delivers--from the font to the music to the wealth of collectibles, it’s worthy of the title of spiritual successor.

Back To Top
The Good
Most collectibles are rewarding to find
Non-linear structure lets you set your own pace
The Bad
Uncooperative camera
Convoluted level design
Outdated gameplay
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kallie finished Yooka-Laylee in 20 hours and found around 75% of the collectibles using a complimentary code provided to GameSpot. She replays Banjo-Kazooie at least once a year.
269 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

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bad review, she doesn't understand what is this about.

2 • 
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Radoria

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You gotta be kidding me.

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kryscai

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I was too excited for this game. I have spent hours of my days playing because it has so much potential,I really want to like it more and win at it, but I'm sorry it needs a lot of tweaking. For one please just the camera and controls. I think if these two things were tweaked and become more efficient, more than half of why the game frustrated me would go away. Second, can we get some sort of map!? The worlds seem never ending and the fact I can get stuck places (random rocky ledges) and then have no choice around but to jump to my death just seems unfair -_-. Thirdly, it's just simply frustrating. I spend more time running around trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing. There's no directions really specific enough for how to excel at the mini task your given. But the game is so close to being good. I'm just saying, if you want to get frustrated beyond belief, have your blood pressure rise, and be left with a headache , by all means play the game.

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ps3gamer1234

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Edited By ps3gamer1234

Recently bought Psychonauts on PS4 in a Flash Sell and it makes me miss good old 3d platformers.

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westsiderz28

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Been looking forward to this for ages, I was also a day 1 backer but after playing a large portion of the game it's clear that it needed another yr in developed to iron out all the bugs and stuff,

Having to replay large areas over and over again because you keep missing your jump is not fun and gets very frustrating

Also a gentle nudge in the right direction at times wouldn't go a miss especially when trying to find the last few items in a level

It could have been so much better hopefully a sequel will get it right,

Playtonic make the game we want but take away all the old stale gameplay and bring the platforming genre bang up to date and please also fix the horrendous camera that I feel like I'm wrestling with more than playing the actual game

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TTDog

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Too Much Water!

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Johnnna

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Edited By Johnnna

How is the gameplay outdated? Man, what's up with these reviewers and their bad taste in games.

4 • 
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westsiderz28

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@johnnna: it's the way you have to play whole chunks of the game over and over if you miss a jump or slide off a slope that style of outdated gameplay is what the reviewer means

2 • 
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Phelaidar

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"Outdated gameplay", and by what she says about "Convoluted Level Design", the reviewer is basing her score by what she WANTED to play, not by what the game set out to achieve.

It was not a good review, and a bit unfair.

4 • 
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rushabs

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Edited By rushabs

Would love to play it on the switch, what a fuking joke , no game go fuguire . So bad we're the hell is the game . Going to buy it on PlayStation or Xbox . Hope you produc r for the game realize the mistake

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Rykalt

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Honestly haven't played the game yet, but from the gameplay I've seen it looks super fun. Honestly I never beat any Banjo games but found them really fun. The camera in the games didn't seem bad to me at all. Not saying it was the best camera movement system but it was still easy to play. If Yooka-Laylee is any where near the Banjo games' camera, I seems more minor of probem. This review makes it seem like it's unplayable. For once the untrustworthy IGN has a better review than other sites. It is clear that Kallie, the reviewer, never played a game like this before and if she did mostly likely hates the games. The reviewer background is a load of crap and getting a code to find the collectibles. What is that crap? Doesn't that ruin the experience of playing it for the first time?

About the JohnTron thing, honestly I don't think it is an issue to bring down a game. I understand if a person does not like the company by doing that but taking it out on a game without playing it is childish. My honest opinion about the whole issue is JohnTron brought him being fired on himself. It pretty much comes to the saying, "Be careful what you post on social media, employers look at them before they hire you." Employers want someone who promotes their ideals and JohnTron violated their ideals. Yes, he was hired by them, but he still needs to uphold their ideals and not do something stupid which it seems he did.

2 • 
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SexPantherPanda

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Going to pass on this Stinker...

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

One of the bosses is amusingly absurd. It's an ice monster of sorts that spits bits of ice as an attack. When it was still big, it spits only a few. However, as it shrinks, it paradoxically spits more, until eventually it is the same as the ice that it spits (and the volley increases to five projectiles too).

Typical cartoon silliness.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

There is a fucking gating system based on collectibles.

Then there are level designs where the player progresses... by waiting.

I have seen these so, so many times throughout the years. This is no longer fun to me.

I can't empathize with those of you who are baulking at the "outdated gameplay" remark which the reviewer made. You are stuck in the past.

Also, if you are going to make the argument that these games are great for children, really, there are better games for your children.

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edhc44

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What is Shovel Knight doing there?

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DoomglooM

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Ain't this coming out for the switch too?

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EXxile

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@DoomglooM: Yes.

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Artwark

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Wait...the game has poor scores....what's happening here?

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stevo302

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@Artwark: People have moved on from 15 years ago. These platformers just haven't dated well, and the reaction to them is telling. People just aren't impressed by this form of game anymore if it hasn't a shred of originality.

2 • 
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Bgrngod

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@stevo302: 20 years ago.

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Ryan78134

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Edited By Ryan78134

@stevo302: Thank god the Ratchet & Clank reboot was fantastic though.

3 • 
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westsiderz28

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Well I played the toybox demo and absolutely loved that so the game must be brilliant imo

I still think it's going to be great

3 • 
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Simulator_Shock

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I've been really looking forward to playing this game for a very long time, over 15 years if you look far back enough to the last time Rare/Playtonic made a real platformer game...

But that being said, I normally buy my games on Steam but I decided to pre-order this on PS4 for old times sake so I could at least have the game box and a manual, but now I'm hearing that this game only runs at 30fps on consoles and apparently has a lot of tech problems with stuttering an such...

That's really disappointing to see, but I hope Playtonic can patch the game up after launch...

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Zonsag

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scroll down to the pro`s and con`s

see"Outdated gameplay"

leave page

17 • 
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Bgrngod

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@Zonsag: It's not wrong.

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m4fioso

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@Zonsag: I know right? I thought that was the idea, i think this game will be hugely misunderstood

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Croxus

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I don't get it, yet another 6 on a xbone exclusive?? Did MS stop bribing GS?

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Bgrngod

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Edited By Bgrngod

@croxus: It's not an Xbox exclusive.

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ExoticCharm

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@croxus: Congrats on being the moron of the day. Do your research next time so that you don't look so stupid.

5 • 
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bfeinberg

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@croxus: Do you have ANY idea what you are talking about? This isn't an Xbone exclusive.

8 • 
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baral-o

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Edited By baral-o

@croxus: but this is not a xbox exclusive, it's also for PC/PS4 and I think switch

7 • 
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csward

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Kallie replays Banjo once per year? That strikes me as odd, as Banjo is a good game, but it's not THAT good. There are other 3D platformers just as good on N64 and once you know where all the collectibles are, why would you play it again? To each his own I suppose.

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ZmanBarzel

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@csward: "why would you play it again?"

The same way people reread a book or rewatch a movie: to enjoy how a developer (or author, or director) pieces together all the elements that make it a success.

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GamerOuTLaWzz

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@csward: Meh its just some bullshit to have casuls believe her shitty opinion should be more relevant.

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ibonedyourmom

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Edited By ibonedyourmom

@gameroutlawzz: What's a casul? Is that like where a king lives or something?

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ZmanBarzel

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@ibonedyourmom: I think it may be a town in the Middle East.

"My cousin was fatally wounded during the attack on Casul."

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Edited By JielmBirdman

Sad to read they messed up the level design, that was Banjos strongest point. Although glad they improved in some areas as well. Looking forward to this on the Switch. This year is platformer year for me

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R4gn4r0k

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@jielmbirdman: Are there many good 2D platformers this year ?

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milesprower06

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Edited By milesprower06

Damn, I am seldom this divided.

On one hand, I have been looking forward to this game for two years, and I would love to play it.

On the other, regardless of what you think of the JonTronsituation, the simple fact remains that Playtonic has effectively politicized their game, and I cannot, now or ever, respect that.

5 • 
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bigcrusha

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@milesprower06: I'd not go as far as calling it politicizing. Really this is protecting their brand. Unfortunately, this is how the business world works, associating themselves with someone who has an unpopular opinion can be considered a "reputational risk" in the corporate world. I think Jontron more than anyone understands this, which is why he didn't make an uproar when the news dropped. Not that he should be too upset, the game didn't exactly get any critical acclaim haha.

4 • 
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Daian

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@milesprower06: he's a racist douchebag, and you're mad at THEM?

9 • 
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jepsen1977

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@Daian:

Playtonic did it to distance themselves from a "racist douchebag" but had no issue taking the racist money from the fans of that "racist douchebag" and not offer refunds to those fans who asked for it and furthermore even mock those fans and JonTron on social media. So yes, we are angry at them for that.

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VFighter

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@milesprower06: What happened with JohnTron?

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milesprower06

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@vfighter: His cameo and dialogue were removed due to his far-right personal views coming to light this last month. Playtonic also apparently mocked and banned anyone demanding refunds because of this.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

@milesprower06: If that is the case, I would say that the problem lies with Jon Tron instead. Loose lips sink ships.

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jepsen1977

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@Gelugon_baat:

No one is surprised that you of all people are in favor of heavy censorship.

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Gelugon_baat

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@jepsen1977: Reading your other remark, I would say that no one should be surprised that I consider people who gave money to a game before it is even finished to be fools.

I couldn't care two shits about censorship in a game anyway.

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visor123

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Outdated gameplay my ass.

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Artwark

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Edited By Artwark

@visor123: I can't picture games that don't have outdated gameplay and yet don't get criticized for it....except when it comes to Nintendo games..mostly..

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Yooka-Laylee More Info

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  • First Released Apr 5, 2017
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 4 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer from the creative talent behind Banjo-Kazooie.
    6.9
    Average Rating29 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Yooka-Laylee
    Developed by:
    Playtonic Games
    Published by:
    Team 17, Limited Run Games, IntraGames, Sold Out
    Genre(s):
    Action, 3D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief