Wrap yourself in a blanket and curl up with the cuddliest Nintendo game in a while.
Yoshi’s Crafted World plays like a comfortable warm blanket. A coziness pervades the entirety of GoodFeel’s Switch debut, following up on their similar past work of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World. It carves a slightly different path than Woolly World, though - one that I found far more enjoyable - and in the process creates a new Yoshi adventure that edges out of Yoshi’s Island’s shadow and becomes something more fresh by focusing on a gentler pace and an emphasis on discovery.
Let’s start with the very good: the visuals are spectacular, going for a distinctive look that relies on a handmade arts and crafts style. Crafted World is one of the prettier games on the system so far, blending GoodFeel’s craftwork aesthetic with the sheen of Unreal Engine. The cardboard and plush feel of the surroundings and world feel like you could reach out and touch everything. Nearly every level has a new twist or trick that adds to a sense of discovery, whether it’s the joy of Yoshi’s papercraft mech or Poochy’s playful prancing. Unfortunately the music doesn’t match the glory of the graphics; the soundtrack repeats a lot of similar variations of the same theme. The better tracks nail a music box toy feel, but nothing stands out as all that memorable or good. It’s a disappointment given GoodFeel’s generally great soundtracks for their games in the past.
The level structure and gameplay loop is a little peculiar (and also elegantly on display in the available eShop demo), with one to three levels making up a themed area. The levels feature the typical Yoshi collectibles of hidden flowers, 20 red coins, and full health. Here each level has a coin goal as well. You could more or less blaze through each level from start to finish without much interference, at least as long as you collect enough flowers to progress to the next area. Though taking Crafted World at a fervent pace seems ill-advised, especially as the variant Flip Side levels and souvenir hunts add more replayability to each level while encouraging you to stop and smell the cardboard roses. The Flip Side levels, which all fall under the conceit of playing the stage over again but in reverse and from the other side (or “Flip Side,” get it?), focus on speed, as you try to collect all three hidden Poochy Pups in a certain amount of time. On their own, I find those levels to be a little antithetical to the game’s overall pace, but combined with revisiting areas to find hidden objects for the souvenir hunts, I found replaying the beautiful levels amusing. Multiple steps are taken to make sure you have multiple avenues of collecting flowers to progress, and if the souvenir or Flip Side levels aren’t your bag, you can avoid them for the most part - or at least cherry-pick what you want to do the most of.
Unlike a lot of past Yoshi games, you don’t need to collect every object in a single run. Even better, when you do revisit stages for the hidden souvenirs, you can collect more red coins and flowers. Those extra collectibles will count towards your overall completion, even if you leave the stage when you find the object - which is an option presented whenever you find a souvenir in a level. Aside from areas being gated by collected flowers, Crafted World respects your time and focuses on delivering new environments, fun twists, and unique ideas.
The challenge, for the most part, never gets too tense. The last few levels get a tiny bit tricky, but nothing is ever all that hard. Bonus levels unlocked in the post-game are stronger tests, but in general, if you seek a terse platforming challenge, Crafted World won’t deliver. It’s a cutesy explorative platformer that rewards you for scouring every nook and cranny of this adorable tactile adventure. For the record, while I didn’t find it quite as egregious as past Yoshi’s Island games, this still has the hidden clouds that can only be found by walking over every square inch of the stage. That’s still a bad way to hide collectibles.
Adding to that cardboard glory are some of the adorable unlockables. Each area has multiple costumes you can unlock using accumulated coins. Most of them are generic, like riffs on found objects like fruit and milk containers, but some of the cuter ones are Labo references and enemy-inspired outfits. Amiibo can unlock a few extras as well, with the highlights being Yarn Yoshi and Yarn Poochy outfits that blend the style of Yoshi’s last outing with his new one. The costumes add additional health complementing their flair. Not that Crafted World is starved for an easy mode (which is also available in the toggleable Mellow Mode), but the costumes add a layer of protection if needed.
That layer of protection circles back to the feeling of being comforted by a blanket while rolling through the variety of cozy levels and cute touches. Yoshi’s Crafted World is a stable, enjoyable adventure that brings enough of a twist to the expected Yoshi adventure to make it stand apart in a way no Yoshi platformer has done in years. It has a few blemishes along the way, but just break out the duct tape and stick that cardboard back up so you can romp your way through this delightful easy-going platformer.