The diorama-like design of Yoshi's Crafted World falls somewhere between capturing how a child might imagine a world and being a joyful expression of imagination in its own right, with washi tape snails, cardboard cows, and fish made from paper planes set among carefully laid-out stages. Each set of two or three levels introduces a new theme and its own quirks to discover, from the various ways everyday objects are recycled into art to how those crafts might be concealing the collectible you're after. While the best ideas mostly stay in their own levels and don't really build upon themselves or each other, each area is a delight to explore on its own.
Crafted World plays largely like other Yoshi games. You gobble up enemies to get eggs, throw the eggs at stuff, and maybe find some friends and secrets along the way, all with unlimited lives and very little to pressure you. The big change in Crafted World is the addition of a dimension–while you still mostly move left or right in 2D, some paths allow you to move forward or backward onto a separate left-right pathway, and you can throw eggs forward and backward, too. Aiming into the foreground or background shifts the depth of field so you can better see what's around you, with the added effect of making the levels seem even more like 3D, handmade dioramas.
Because coins, collectibles, and other points of interest are scattered throughout the foreground and background as well as your immediate path, you're encouraged to engage with the environment in every direction throughout a level. Finding a secret can mean spotting a suspiciously empty space and hoping an invisible winged cloud is there like in previous games, but it also means keeping an eye on the horizon for collectibles poking out from behind background decorations or moving Yoshi forward a bit to get a better look through a cardboard building's window. It's hard not to wonder what might be behind a bush or off in the distance, and Yoshi's Crafted World fosters that inherent curiosity with small, endearing details.
Each set of levels has its own theme, from the jungle to ninjas to a haunted house. The 16 different themes comprise a wide variety of cute and creative takes on the craft aesthetic; the jungle's frog platforms jump using folded-paper springs, the ninja Shy Guys throw origami shuriken, and the haunted house features a large cardboard puppet Shy Guy that wields a cardboard scythe and chases you through a graveyard. Inanimate crafts are frequently juxtaposed with a moving or puppeted version–childlike bird cutouts in the background with 3D bird enemies in your immediate vicinity, for example–which only enhances the feeling that the levels are imagination brought to life.
Some levels have not-crafty additions to round out their themes, many of which provide interesting wrinkles to the standard Yoshi mechanics. One jungle level is an on-rails shooter that tasks you with throwing eggs at animal-shaped targets to score points; one of the ninja levels is set behind a moving shoji screen so that much of your platforming and collecting is done in silhouette, forcing you act quickly when the path to a collectible is revealed. Nearly every area has at least one non-standard level, and the variety helps break up the slower, more deliberate pace of the typical Yoshi levels.
Some ideas, like the shoji screen, make sense as one-offs, but most of the areas exist disparately from one another, and the most interesting ideas are never developed beyond their original incarnations. The ninja area (a clear highlight) has rotating doors that turn 180 degrees when you shoot them, revealing platforms you might need to progress or moving Yoshi to the other side of a wall where treasure awaits. They aren't tricky puzzles, but the front-to-back movement of the doors plays off the 3D and visual depth effects especially well, and it's disappointing that they aren't used more and to greater effect as the levels progress.