Yooka-Laylee is still the worst game of 2017 by quite a stretch, even after its recent (depending on your platform of choice) “Green & Purple” update. I just wanted to get that out of the way now to underscore just how bad the game is, and that no amount of patches can ever repair this fundamentally broken game.
Yooka-Laylee released April 11, 2017, and the highly-touted “Green & Purple” patch didn’t come out until June 27. However, that patch was only for the PC version, the PS4 and Xbox One wouldn’t get fixed (and that’s what this update is – a major fix) until August 10. That’s a four month stretch where the game was broken on two of its three available platforms. That’s better than Switch owners at least, since that version of the game still isn’t out yet.
Credit where credit is due, the patch does improve the game, but only marginally. The patch makes alterations to some of the smaller issues of Yooka-Laylee, but the big problems are either still there or ignored completely.
As for some of the things it does right, it’s a short story. One of the worst features of the game has been the “voice acting,” which was little more than one of the developers making the most disgusting noises imaginable. There are now no less than four different ways of muting, shortening, or skipping the voice acting completely, which still isn’t enough if you ask me, but it’s still nice. Cutscenes can now be skipped or sped through as well, which isn’t a great loss either. Some of the more obscure aspects of the game are more highlighted now, such as when your health dips below a certain point, objects you can use your sonar powers on, and literal signpost in the confusing hub world area.
The real star of this patch though are the control improvements. The mini-arcade games that were once unplayable thanks to loose controls have been reigned in, making them at least operational if still not enjoyable. The shooting sections (yes, that’s a thing) have also received a marked improvement, allowing you to aim in first person and giving you more definitive aiming.
But as far as improvements go, that’s about it. It’s all stuff that should have been in the game since day one, and nothing truly revolutionary. There are some general “audio and performance improvements” listed on Playtonic’s website, but they’re not noticeable. Neither are the “improvements” to the infamous Rampo boss fight, which is still 100% a matter of luck.
The Bad and The Ugly
The much asked for improved camera… isn’t improved. With the standard automatic camera, there’s barely any difference whatsoever. It still flings itself around levels with no regard to where you are within them and it still bizarrely faces you whenever you enter new areas. The only difference is now it automatically spins itself back around to behind you after a second. Why this wasn’t just cut entirely, we may never know. It also maneuvers itself around at stupid angles during mini-games and boss fights, which can only be seen as some kind of artificial difficult curve at this point.
There is however an option for manual camera controls now, but again, it’s no improvement. Calling it “manual” is a misnomer, as it’ll still automatically spin around to face Yooka when entering new areas, and doing mini-games and boss fights. In fact, from what I could tell there was no difference between the automatic camera and manual controls, except maybe in automatic mode it was a bit more stiff.
The jumping physics, which feel too heavy when you’re on the ground and too light once you’re in the air, are still there. The terrible writing and flat humor is still there. The uninspired levels and level design are still there. Basically, all the major problems of the game originally are still 100% intact. This patch feels more like a first step than anything else.
Or maybe it’s a PR move. Playtonic hasn’t had the nerve to admit to their mistakes, instead saying this patch is a minor thing catering to what “the fans” want. Things like skipping cutscenes and voice over? That’s not because they’re awful, it’s for speed runners! That’s what Playtonic’s website says anyway. They’ve completely failed to take responsibility for how bad the game is, instead hiding behind people who’ve convinced themselves they like the game because it reminds them of their childhood, nothing more.
The Worst Game of 2017
Yooka-Laylee is still the worst game of the year (save for any of the “games” shoveled on to Steam by hack developers for a quick buck, perhaps). It’s funny, Rare was long seen as dead once Microsoft purchased it, but Rare is looking better than ever these days with the Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves, whereas the “real Rare” just produced this dumpster fire. Maybe we were blaming the wrong people for the company’s tough years this whole time.
If you want to see a more detailed review of the game itself, check out the video above. Playtonic did do a great job of delivering on their visual of a nostalgic platformer, just like they promised. But that’s what makes Yooka-Laylee so bad – it’s blind devotion to everything nostalgic without taking an honest look at past games and fixing their flaws. Nobody was worried about making Yooka-Laylee good, they wanted it to be nostalgic, and figured that would make it good on its own.