Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair Review


Yooka Laylee may not be a big series yet but you’re always guaranteed to have a good time with the sound effects in each title. At this point it’s just hard to forget them even if the sounds are really just nonsense that’s repeated a lot. It shows what good sound direction can really go for you right? The game is pretty fun and also has a cool concept with the whole lair aspect.

Basically, Chief B is back once more to reign terror on everyone who opposes him. He has defeated the Bee squadron and taken over the whole kingdom. The queen is forced to call in Yooka & Laylee to take this guy down. Everyone knows where his lair is so the heroes can attack right away bus his fortress is guarded extremely well. The queen feels it would be best if we go and find the royal guard members first. There are 48 bee members in the game so you can have a maximum shield of 48 hits. Each bee you save is another hit you can endure so you can see how these guys would be really handy.

The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You can use a sort of spin dash to barrel into enemies and also to cross some of the larger chasms. You can spin attack enemies if they get too close or to stay in the air for an extra second. Due to this, you have a whole lot of aerial mobility which is always good. Each level has 5 golden coins which are also helpful since they’re how you take down the various paywalls scattered across the world which hide extra bees and levels behind them. Make sure you grab a lot since you will want to have at least 100/200 of the coins in the game. This will ensure you can max out your shield.

As I mentioned, part of the fun is that you can try to tackle the level without any shields but I can safely say that this is incredibly difficult. The odds of pulling it off are really not in your favor. Even the best of players will not breeze through it, but of course you will get a lot of satisfaction for pulling it off. Surprisingly there is no trophy for doing this so even the developers may have felt that it was too steep a challenge. The level itself is over 20 minutes so it would certainly be rough to lose near the end since there are no checkpoints either.

I did give it a shot but without bees the best I would make it was around 5% into the level. Now that I’ve cleared the game I’m confident I could probably bump that up to at least 10% but beating all of it still does sound pretty impossible. The game throws every kind of obstacle and challenge at you so you’d need to play basically perfect to pull it off. It would truly be one of the most impressive showings that I have ever seen. Number 1 would probably be some kind of speed run but I’m not really sure which one I would choose for that title.

There’s a good amount of content here. The game will certainly last you over 10 hours. There are 20 main levels in the game plus the lair. Each level has a second level you can play by reversing it so effectively there are 40 levels. When you’re not having fun in the stages you can also investigate the hub world to find special items, and extra bees. It’s a very immersive hub world where you are actively reshaping the levels and changing things so that’s pretty cool.

Now, I do think the game is a little too intentionally harsh on finding the items scattered around. There are 69 potions in the game and they can be anywhere on the hub world. By anywhere, I mean you can find some by randomly ground pounding during the level. I think this is a bit much because it takes forever to do that so without a walkthrough or something, you’re probably not going to be able to get all of them. Not unless you want to waste a few hours trying every spot you can think of.

I also wasn’t a huge of how you have to grab so many coins to make it through the paywalls. Mandatory collectibles are still something I’ve never been a fan of. I feel like it defeats the entire purpose of a collectible if you have to locate it no matter what instead of just being able to relax and enjoy the level. You’ll see what a big difference it is to be able to just blast through a level once you have enough coins to clear the game. They finish so much quicker since you don’t have to check out every passageway.

As for the graphics, I would say they look very good here. The character models are solid with the levels being nice and bright. It all pops out at you well enough. I can’t say I particularly remember any of the tracks though so I wouldn’t call them very impressive. They do the job but that’s about it. In general that’s why I would say this is a fairly standard platformer. It’s fun and will last you for a while but there’s probably nothing here that you are really going to take home with you. At the end of the day you’ll just move onto the next adventure.

Overall, The Impossible Lair is a fun platformer that has some good ideas. I really like the idea of being able to challenge the Lair whenever you want. Additionally, the gameplay is solid and the hub world being so interactive was cool. Pro-tip, when using your spin dash you can float on the air for a second which is really helpful for many jumps. It’s basically mandatory in the lair. On the minus side, the forced collectibles certainly got old and the game is practically cheating with how it hides the potions. All in all the game certainly has ways to improve but it will hold your attention. Also make sure you stick around for the stinger leading up to the next game. After playing this you can tell that we absolutely need a third game to complete the trilogy.

Overall 7/10

ABZÛ Review


Abzu is one of those games where you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring. The very premise of the game is effectively that you are underwater and just trying to have a good time. Unfortunately as things go on you can expect to face off against some powerful foes and this may be a deadlier swim than you had ever intended. The fact that the game has some lore and a bit of a story is always a nice bonus. The game isn’t very long but the time could definitely end up extending if you get lost or something which is very easy since there is no map.

The first half of the game is really focused on just swimming around but there is usually a general pattern. You have to find a way to power up the two chains leading into the main statue. To do this, you will have to usually find either a generator to turn on or have your robot blast through something. Your little drone robots are incredibly handy I should add so if you find one on the ground, make sure to pick it up. That being said, I think it may be mandatory anyway so you’ll find yourself doing that at some point.

The only active button you need to use in the game is the square button which allows you to interact with objects. This is how you progress items and get farther in the game. If you see an orange triangle show up anywhere then you have found exactly what you were looking for. That is your ticket. There are also meditation zones where you can space out for a while. It’s an interesting concept to be sure but….I don’t think you really need to worry about that one for too long outside of trophies.

The soundtrack is fairly mild here as it’s going for a very laidback array of music where you don’t even notice it half the time. I’d love some more rock themes or something of course but I do get why they didn’t go that way. The graphics are good. They don’t look quite as solid as the Thumper levels of course but all things considered I think they did a good job here. The explosions from the enemy squares were also good.

The second half of the game definitely picks up in the excitement factor since we get some actual action scenes and a sense of danger. It’s still nothing too high end of course as the focus is ultimately on exploration but it was a nice way to make things more interesting. There are a lot of paintings to establish some kind of lore and my personal guess is that humanity was wiped out by these robotic aliens. The main character managed to escape but he’s just not sure what to do anymore. That’s why he’s wondering around all over the place. I assume perhaps he has amnesia or something like that which I think would make sense in the context of the story.

I’ll definitely give Abzu credit for having large levels though. Part of why you can get lost in the first place is because the levels are absolutely massive. You can just be running around for ages and ages as you get used to the place. While you are in the water for 99% of the game, there are brief moments where you get to go on land. That was definitely fun and I wouldn’t have minded more sections like that. Land based movement is ultimately still the best if you ask me although 3D flying comes at a close second. Being able to do both kinds of movement like in Superman for Gamecube is ideal.

Overall, Abzu is a very low key game. My first impressions of it weren’t great but the game did soften me up as it went along. It ultimately became a game that could stand up on its own. Slowly but surely it got more interesting and that’s a good way to go out. Better to have an unimpressive opening and a solid ending than vice versa. Things got a little dicey for a minute there when it seemed like something was going to happen to the Shark but fortunately that was not the case. It’s not really the kind of game I would go out of my way to buy personally, but when it’s free like this I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re up for a game about exploring then this is as good a title as any to check out. That said, if you want something that’s a lot more plot focused involving water then you’re going to want to check out Super Mario Sunshine which to this day may be the definitive water based game.

Overall 6/10

Thumper Review


Thumper is one of the last of the big Playstation games that I wrapped up. I have to say that it was one of the more enjoyable ones. It also has a high difficulty level so don’t expect to breeze through it. That being said, with infinite lives and constant checkpoints, you can certainly get through it with enough persistence.

This is really everything that I imagine a future F Zero game would be like. Really this is exactly what they should be thinking about long term. There isn’t much of a plot as the game is very interpretive but it seems like a very powerful alien creature is after you so you have to use your car to bounce back the shockwaves and defeat this monster. Rinse and repeat for each level. This is clearly far in the future so perhaps you are humanity’s last hope.

One thing that you will notice pretty much immediately is how stunning the graphics are. This game is a cut above the average racing game and that’s actually quite impressive. The whole game takes place in space so the levels look like something out of Crazy Gadget. The visuals are always moving and if anything it can be difficult to keep up with your eyes because of how fast the stage moves. The game is part rhythm based so you have to move your car in tune with the music. It’s sort of like a non physical version of DDR at times.

Hitting the right corners at the right times triggers a beat which you can subtly use to keep up the flow of your moves. There are 4 main moves, turning sideways, Jumping, Accelerating, and then a ground pound. Use these as you progress through the levels. The game will teach you how to perform each move as you go through the levels normally. Each chapter has around 20-40 levels in it. No worries, this is where the infinite lives come into play because otherwise it would be really difficult to conquer all of this without a game over.

The first few chapters aren’t so bad but the game does get more difficult after that. It’s the kind of game that feels really challenging even as you’re conquering it so that part is definitely pretty fun. It also just feels like a lot of thought went into the game. The gameplay is smooth and the length is pretty decent considering that the game is free right now. It’s definitely worth picking up before that deal goes away.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not very memorable but it does have that classic sci-fi feeling. It works really well within the levels as you work to get to the next stage. The whole game meshes well with that atmosphere. Beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about with the game since it is a very straight forward racing game. Either you enjoy blasting through the levels and dodging the obstacles or you don’t.

If anything this could even help you practice your timing if you are a musician. After all, timing is crucial to playing any instrument and this game is built entirely around that concept. So it’s a game that can definitely help to improve your skills while you also have a blast. In that way you’re cooking two skills with one bill. Not a bad deal if I do say so myself.

It would be fun to be able to race other cars in the story but taking on these giant bosses is certainly a blast as well. They come at you relentlessly and you’ll likely lose quite a few lives on your first encounters. It also took me a minute to realize that to damage them you have to properly go through each boost point. For a while there I was ignoring them and just accelerating as much as possible. This is one of those times where accelerating isn’t necessarily the right approach to take.

Overall, Thumper is a really fun game. It’s a nice futuristic look at a car game and F-Zero should take some notes. I’m always up for some virtual driving so when you throw in some lore and boss fights I’m definitely all in. It’d be cool if they could make a sequel to this one with a heavier emphasis on the story at some point. I’d definitely be excited to give it a whirl since there is certainly a lot you can do with this one. If you haven’t played it yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

Subnautica Review


Time to check out another one of the PS Home free titles. Subnautica is a survival game and I haven’t played a whole lot of those. Unfortunately…that’s probably for good reason. Now, you can absolutely churn out some great titles for this genre, but this was not one of them. I think there is an ambitious game to be found here but it does leave you to your own devices a lot and it is maybe trying to be a little too realistic. More on that in a minute.

Your spaceship has crashed and now you are stuck in an escape pod. You are able to bust out but the main ship is infected with radiation so going there isn’t exactly an option. Additionally, you don’t have a lot of equipment. If you don’t rustle up some food and water soon then you will eventually die. Can you manage to survive in such a remote ocean or is it game over for you? There isn’t much of a plot beyond that but you’re not supposed to be playing the game for the story to be honest.

The gameplay is pretty smooth so that’s good. I was able to make a knife and a power up that let me swim faster so that was a good way to kick things off. I felt like I would do anything as I scooped up a bunch of mushrooms and equipment. The problem is that soon after I ran out of item space and couldn’t figure out how to clear my inventory. I put as much as I could in storage but even that filled up so then I was sunk. I needed to try and make some things to fix up a radiation suit or to at least fix my tech but I couldn’t find the elusive ingredients.

One thing is due to how large the game is, it can be very hard to find a specific item. It’s like digging for a needle in a haystack as they say. Along the way you can also meet a lot of fish and even some monsters. Watch out as some of the monsters can blast you out of existence with their spores or just eat you straight up. I wanted to see how far the ocean would stretch out so I made it a great distance before being eaten. I’m sure there is a limit to how far away you can go but it would take a while to get there.

The farther you go the more dangerous the Ocean gets as well which makes a lot of sense. That’s exactly how you would expect it to be right? Meanwhile you can’t go underwater for very long as you will drown so keep that in mind as well. In a way you have 4 different health meters now as you have to watch out for radiation, hunger, oxygen, and water. Fail to keep one of those meters up and you’ll die. As I mentioned the game goes very in depth. I could have done without some of that though like food which is probably the most annoying one. Dying of hunger’s kind of sad but at the same time I won’t want to waste item space on getting a lot of fruits or fish.

You’ll need to do it anyway but still, I think that’s where the game is getting a little too realistic. I’d be good with just hanging out in the ocean. The graphics are definitely really good though. The game’s visuals are sharp like the waves and the backdrops. It’s part of why you can be okay just swimming around for an hour or two. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though so don’t expect to hear any big tunes like that. This isn’t exactly that kind of game after all.

Ultimately what keeps the game from going higher is that it’s just not a whole lot of fun outside of short spurts for me. It’s not really a very active game where you are doing a lot of things. You do have to plan things out and someone like Senku from Dr. Stone would probably appreciate the attention to detail. Outside of a scientific basis though, I wouldn’t be likely to go back to this game without some kind of extra story being added in or some cutscenes. Now that would be a lot of fun.

Overall, Subnautica is a game where you can tell they did put a lot of work into it. It didn’t quite click with me but if you’re really into the genre I can see how it could potentially work. The level is certainly huge so you can spend a lot of time in the game. The loading time may be a little long to start the game but considering how much has to be generated I can see why that is the case. It basically saves at any time as well so that’s cool. There are also some automatic events that play out the longer you play so that’s pretty neat. It’s free so you may as well give it a shot.

Overall 5/10