That the camera is so poorly handled is a big problem for a 3D platformer, and it's a problem I ran into again and again during my time with the game - somewhere around the 15-hour mark before I found myself so infuriated I couldn't play much more.
The vast open-world areas that make up the game's levels are well designed but positively sprawling after you've spent Pagies expanding them, and for some reason the game declines to give you a map. The game is too large, mostly, with each level's expansion nearly guaranteeing you'll get lost. The hub-world that makes up the gaps between the levels has its own set of puzzles too, although the problem I spent the most time wrestling with was where to find the books that allow access to the future levels. I had trouble finding the book for World 2, and then I had real trouble finding the book for World 3.
Some of the organic puzzles are well designed too, and the way they're scattered around the worlds is great: You can stumble across a puzzle, solve it, and feel smart, often rewarded with a Pagie. It's here where the main game is at its best, gently encouraging you to explore the worlds and solve the puzzles.
The other side quests and stories are delivered by characters whose voices surely make up a particular circle of aural hell. The dialogue is unskippable and accompanied by squeaks, grunts, and random noises that at first are merely annoying but soon become an unending torment. The writing in the game is also fairly grim. Tonally, the game's characters are aware they're in a game and make references to it regularly; I don't have an issue with this, but I found that the main characters didn't have personalities so much as a series of terrible jokes. It's a very 90s type of humour but less Big Train and more Trigger Happy TV.
This is perhaps best exemplified by the snake that sells Yooka-Laylee upgrades during the game, who talks into a phone like Dom Joly and is named Trowzer. Yup.
It's a shame about all the negatives, because it feels like regarding tone and design the studio managed to nail Banjo-Kazooie perfectly. It's just that, as it currently stands, it feels a bit like someone is taking that same game of Goldeneye that my friends have been bleating about since I was a kid and then asking me to pay £40 for the same game without acknowledging how poorly it's aged. Yooka-Laylee is going to find fans as a piece of weaponised nostalgia, and the AAA sheen over the whole thing is impressive, but this illusion isn't very deep, and I've come away from my time with the game feeling mostly unsatisfied.
Yooka-Laylee is the game we were promised, and with £2m+ raised on Kickstarter it's already a success story, but for those of us eagerly hoping for the return of the kid-friendly 3D platformer, this is a disappointment.