Yoshi's Pretty Slog
Yoshi's Island was a great game that never received a good follow-up. Every sequel was either too different or way too similar. Only with the release of Woolly World we finally got a great Yoshi game after all these years.
Crafted World takes the overall formula of Yoshi series - an exploratory platformer - and somewhat expands it. The levels have depth, and you can freely aim your eggs anywhere, including background and foreground. The levels feel different and unique, and playing through them is a joy. Colorful things happen around you, enviroments morph, and the game never stops being adorable.
Mostly the game is pretty much what you would expect out of a Yoshi title. Some levels have unique and interesting gimmicks that are all engaging, and new free-aim system is a welcome addition. The game is still on the easier side, and even the level challenges of completing a level with full health aren't that hard. The levels are a bit weaker gameplay-wise than they were in Woolly World, but still pretty solid. The unfortunate thing is that it feels like it could do so much more with its gimmicks.
if you play through the main game trying to collect stuff and stop at the credits, you will have a good time! Unfortunately, the game doesn't want to stop.
The main collectible - flowers - that you get for exploration, and doing usual tasks within a level - is now used to unlock other worlds, so the exploration aspect becomes a focus. You don't need much, but it's clear that flowers play an important role. Same can be said about coins, which are now used to unlock costumes. Costumes provide a cosmetic change and are all really cute, but they also act as a temporary shield, and are destroyed with a few blows to Yoshi, with no ability to restore them while still in a level.
One of the game's big gimmicks is a "backside". Every level can be played backwards, with camera turned different direction. It's a neat idea, and it's cute how you can see what enviroments are made off. In the backside levels you can spot all the duct tape and cardboard that the level is made of, and it's a really neat touch. Playing backside levels isn't just an option. They can only be played after completing a level, and feature a hide and seek minigame. Once you beat the level and unlock a backside, the first thing you can do is find all the poochie pups in time. It's a neat little gimmick. You need to find little dogs that move and jump around the level, and you "collect" them by touching them in any way. Collect them all, and you get a flower.
However, this isn't the end of content in Crafted World. The game feels like it wants to actively punish completionists. Next thing you can do in levels is complete "quests". You're tasked with throwing an egg at a certain amount of items in the background or foreground. These collectibles are usually little paper things that can be quite hard to find. It's essentially a variation on Poochie Pups levels, only less fun. You don't collect cute dogs, you're going through either backside or foreside, so you've already seen the whole level, and no time limit makes it less engaging.
Once you beat the final boss, there's another type a quest you can do. A character called Sprout will hide in every level, and you need to toss an egg at him.
There are three hide-and-seek missions in every level! Even if you do them all, including the normal level collectibles, without mistakes or deaths, you still have to play through the level four times! Some hide-and-seek games can be really hard, too! Still, they never feel actually challenging or interesting. You just miss an object somewhere, and you have to come back and do it all again. You don't feel any sense of accomplishment when you finally find, say, a paper fish that's been hiding way back. By the time you fully complete a level, you'll likely just going to be sick of it!
I liked Crafted World on my first run-through. It was a solid game, if a bit too easy and sometimes lacking in interesting gameplay. As I came back to unlock everything to get access to final secret levels, I grew to dislike it. The game asked me to do the same thing over and over again, in levels I visited a few times already for the usual collectibles. Charming enviroments become stale once you're running through a level you've learned, just squinting at the background to find something. It's one of those games I wish I liked more, but it felt like if Breath of the Wild actually dared you to find all of its Koroks, and had stuff hidden behind them. Exploration is great before it becomes a chore, and, unfortunately, Crafted World overstays its welcome.