An open-world pinball adventure
Yoku’s Island Express was happy to hire me despite my complete lack of experience delivering mail and, to be totally honest, my distinct lack of pinballing skills. For this I will forever be grateful as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this charming and unique take on platforming.
Team17 have elected to make another game featuring wee beasties as the stars. Worms have been sidelined for a whole bunch of lovable, lovingly animated critters. You are a dung beetle!
The movement is slow and steady as Yoku but thankfully he has exchanged his ball of dung for a much more bouncy and durable ball. Levels are littered with pinball paddles and chutes that make navigating the Island both fun and efficient. This gameplay mechanic is fantastic. It is easy to pick up with your right and left triggers corresponding to an orange and blue paddle respectively. Occasionally Yoku’s slow but precise movement comes in handy as well.
Speaking of precision, the pinball sections of this game demand precision. There are sections of the game where my pinballing skills let me down. Paddles must be activated with exact timing otherwise your ball and Yoku will be flung to the wall rather than through that tiny gap that you aimed for. Yoku is a plucky little dung beetle and he didn’t seem to mind my countless failed attempts although occasionally they did make me want to give up.
Uncovering the islands deepest secrets
Thankfully, the simple, satisfying storyline along with some very colourful characters kept me coming back for more. Island Express is mostly a soothing and addictive experience so the short examples of intense frustration never seemed overwhelming.
An ancient island deity has been forced into a restless sleep and this serves as the main thread of the story. It is up to Yoku to deliver mail, collect bubbles of fruit and restore peace and harmony to this once idyllic tropical island. The residents of this jungle paradise are delightful. They often have reasonably varied quests for Yoku to complete. Most of these lean into the lively and entertaining pinball mechanic. One memorable section had me unblocking the plumbing of the beast’s bathhouse to avoid the whole thing blasting sky high.
Yoku’s Island Express is not a big game
The main story can be completed in under 6 hours although this can be extended up to almost 11 hours if you are a completionist (cards on the table, I am no completionist and had to look this up). It is short, sweet and memorable with a fresh take on platforming being only part of the appeal. Yoku’s Island Express is also amusing, frustrating, satisfying and just really dung fun as well.
The reason I have written this review now is that currently Yoku’s Island Express is on sale on the Nintendo eShop for $4.99 / £3.99. This gem deserves to be played by a lot of people and those people owe it to themselves to experience this game.
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 29/05/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Arcade, Puzzle
Developer: Villa Gorilla
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop