Yorbie: Episode 1 – Payback’s a Bolt Review – Wasting Bolts (PS4)
The PlayStation 4 has yet to see a Ratchet & Clank game, though one is in the works. Developer Happy Dance Games appears to have taken some inspiration from the duo and released Yorbie. Featuring couch co-op and a story featuring scrappy robots, is this low-profile game worth your time, and more importantly, your hard-earned money?
You play as an unlikely hero, the titular Yorbie, an enslaved robot, in an attempt to save your homeworld from the clutches of the evil Dr. Zox. That’s really all there is to the story. Much like the rest of the game as you’ll see, it’s pretty simple. There is a confusing ending that doesn’t seem to change, and Yorbie (and unnamed accomplices) is a catchphrase-spouting hunk of metal who is actually pretty weak. Oh, and his catchphrases? Poetry such as “Knock knock, bitches,” “Ooh, I like it rough,” and “Check out those circuits!” I’m not sure what kind of persona they were going for here, because it ends up leaving Yorbie pretty shallow in character.
A Weak Start
Gameplay consists of basic platforming in an isometric viewpoint. You use the left stick to move, and the right stick to target an enemy. R2 fires, and square melees. It’s pretty awkward, because aiming is not particularly precise and your character only moves in eight directions. I think Yorbie would have benefited from being a twin-stick shooter instead of what we got. There’s light platforming, but the camera angle is your enemy here, and you can expect to leap off edges on accident and not seeing platforms entirely. You can collect cogwheel-shaped coins and energy tubes to upgrade your weapons, which can help to clear out rooms more quickly and with fewer deaths.
Speaking of death, it will come early, and often, in Yorbie. But it is meaningless. You can get knocked out three times before you get “reset,” but this reset will move you a few feet backwards at most. Meanwhile, enemies do not reset, and you keep any items that you have picked up. There is no strategy in Yorbie, other than to grind your way through as you get knocked out every now and then. I use the word “grind” cautiously here. Yorbie features all of five levels. You can play through them in “Insane” mode, but the only thing different about the levels then is more enemies with more health, and a slightly trickier final level. The entire game shouldn’t take more than one hour to complete the campaign.
Low on health? Go on and pick up that floating health orb. Oh, wait, I guess it’s an ammo pickup, and you’re full. It’s very hard to tell the difference between health and ammo pickups. You can tell only after you pick them up – the health orbs disappear with an accompanying white-ish effect, while the ammo pickups leave behind an effect that looks like a bunch of white letter ‘Y’s spurting to the ground. In case you couldn’t tell from that description, the graphics are also woefully uninspired in Yorbie. It’s not really a knock-off Ratchet & Clank; it’s much more generic than that. Combat takes place on floating platforms in a sky that is usually no more complex than two shades of the same color (though one level includes plasma!).
Not Like This
Surprisingly, Yorbie includes co-op gameplay for up to four players on the same screen. Unfortunately, execution is lacking here as well. While other four-player co-op games have decently accommodating methods of dealing with wandering players, in Yorbie you are limited to staying in a tightly-defined invisible rectangle near the center of the screen. If you want to go left a little bit towards the edge of the screen, you will be forbidden from moving until the other players wise up and join you. The camera will also repeatedly not move out of the way of walls, and you’ll be walking around aimlessly until you jump and walk your way back to an area that the camera can properly track. It’s frustrating when a co-op game doesn’t cater to all the players well enough.
To top things off, the game is glitchy. You will fall through corners, get stuck in co-op with death as your only option, the camera will get stuck as mentioned before, and if you’re unlucky like us, the game will crash to the PS4 home screen at the most unfortunate times. It feels like Happy Dance Games did not have enough time and/or resources to properly QA Yorbie, and it shows throughout.
Yorbie is not a good game. It’s barely a decent game. At an asking price of $19.99 ($17.99 if you’re on PS+), this is a very hard sell. The novelty of same-screen co-op is tempting, but not for this heavy of an investment. I found myself laughing a lot while playing Yorbie. The problem is, I was laughing at just how terrible this game is, and how ripped off I would feel if I actually dropped a Jackson to pay for it. If you absolutely love the platforming genre mixed with sci-fi, you still need to wait until this game is discounted. Heavily.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.