Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Xbox One) Review

By Neil Flynn 21.01.2022

Review for Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair on Xbox One

If Yooka Laylee was a passion project born out the love for 3D platforming collect-a-thons such as Banjo Kazooie and Super Mario 64, then the sequel Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a purpose-built shrine to the fluid 2D platformers of yesteryear such as Donkey Kong Country. Playtonic is certainly working on pulling the nostalgia strings - after all there are few truly stellar titles that come anywhere near close to the inspiration of games like Donkey Kong Country, so does Yooka-Laylee have a bat in hell's chance of achieving what it set out to do?

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is not like its predecessor at all, with game-style shifting from a 3D action platformer to a 2D side-scroller. Challenging 2D platformers have been difficult to come across in recent years, with most efforts coming from indie developers, and the genre is sorely lacking fresh ideas. That is until Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair came along with the titular Impossible Lair. The Impossible Lair is actually the last level in the game, but as the name denotes, it is fairly hard, laden with difficult platforming, tonnes of enemies and zero checkpoints. Chances are that all first attempts at The Impossible Lair will fail, although players can attempt this at any time they wish to do so. To make the Impossible Lair more…possible, players are encouraged to progress throughout the other levels to collect bees which help protect Yooka and Laylee, each bee earned throughout the other levels allows for one extra hit in the Impossible Lair.

There are a total of 48 bees, meaning that Yooka and Laylee can be hit up to that many times in the Impossible Lair before dying. Getting from level to level itself is a little bit laborious in itself, as the overworld is presented in a top-down 3D environment, not too dissimilar from the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. These sections felt a bit forced, it was sometimes a bit of a chore to get through the overworld to find the next level and can take away from the core experience of the 2D platforming, a simple overworld map progressing from point to point Super Mario World style would have been much more preferable.

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair on Xbox One

Controlling Yooka (and Laylee) feels fantastic, with tight and responsive movement, and that is just as well with such challenging level design. There are 40 levels in total, and it is hard to pinpoint a bad one within them, each posing as a formidable foe for the experienced veterans of the genre. There are hidden collectables throughout each level known as T.W.I.T coins, which certainly adds to the replayability of each stage, and a decent amount of exploration is needed to find all 5 T.W.I.T coins on each level. Replaying stages is pretty easy when the art style is so good, as Playtonic has made sure to use a rainbow of colours. Each level and character have been designed to have a friendly appeal

To its credit, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair does re-address the difficulty balance in a novel manner, such as removing lives. Instead in-game currency is lost when a character dies. Another useful feature for anyone who is having a difficult time is the Checkpoint skip, allowing players to skip sections of the level and go straight to the next checkpoint which takes away the challenge altogether, but at the same time it does mean that it shouldn't be too daunting for newcomers. The exception to that rule is the Impossible Lair itself as there are no checkpoints at all, and while that is great for people who want a challenge it certainly is a bit of a change of pace for those who essentially skipped the other half of the game because it allowed them to do so.

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

A love letter to the Donkey Kong Country series, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair goes beyond a standard homage, and crafts something beautiful of its own. Fantastic challenging platforming, spanning across 40 imaginative levels, and a charming graphical art style. This is an essential 2D platformer that should not be missed, even more so by the fact that it is being sold for budget point.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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