The main protagonists are a male chameleon named Yooka and a female bat named Laylee. They are a buddy-duo that must use their unique abilities to overcome obstacles in the game. The game is considered to be a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.
Yooka and Laylee leave their home in Bay of Wreck to venture into the work rooms of a dangerous activity known as the Torri D'Alveorio Srl, to look for the "Pagers" needed to unlock the mysterious Gran Tomi and prevent Capital B and Dr. Quack to absorb all of the world's literature, transforming it into pure profit.
The player controls two characters acting simultaneously, a male chameleon called Yooka, which is described as "sensitive" and a female bat named Laylee, described as "a little crazy." The game is meant as the resurrection and modernization of the 3D "collectathon" platform of the late 90's and early 2000's, where it is important to collect various types of objects to progress in the game. During their adventures, Yooka and Laylee explore the worlds in magical books and challenge to collect the "Pagers" pages of golden books that players can use to unlock new worlds or to expand those already unlocked.