Veterans from Rare have teamed up to bring us Yooka-Laylee, a platformer inspired by the developers' past works such as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. While we got a chance to play Yooka-Laylee's tropical level at Gamescom last year, this time at GDC we got to see a whole new, wintry area.
This quintessential snowy level is called Glitterglaze Glacier, a place blanketed with snow and covered in icy patches. It feels almost necessary for a whimsical platformer such as Yooka-Laylee to have such a level, and it fits in well. I had fun searching for secrets in caverns, transforming into a giant snowplow, swimming in the icy waters, and enjoying all the small details reminiscent of Rare's earlier works. From the font of dialogue text to the off color humor, it's clear that Yooka-Laylee hopes to evoke a certain nostalgia, but it manages to also feel fresh for a new audience.
You control Yooka, a chameleon, and a purple bat named Laylee sits on your head and helps you fly over short distances. You can roll down and up icy hills and take out enemies by whacking them with your tail in a quick twist. The movements feel smooth and fun, along with little idle animations that make both characters adorable.
You will also meet other quirky characters, and many of these will return as you explore one world to the next. For example, Dr. Puzz and her D.N.Ray makes a reoccurring appearance in each world, and so does a skeleton traveller that constantly runs into unfortunate problems. Dr. Puzz in particular is amusing. I had to find a collectible called a Mollycool (which, to no one's surprise, looks like a molecule) and bring it back to her in order to unlock a transformation ability, which turned me into a snowplow. Each world will have its own transformation ability.
In the middle of Glitterglaze Glacier stands a large castle that looks like it's straight out of a fairytale, and the developer teased that it's accessible from underwater, and holds several valuable secrets inside, though the team wants to keep it a surprise for launch.
Yooka-Laylee launches April 11 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.