Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Yoku’s Island Express is a weird hybrid. A mashup of pinball, platforming, and Metroidvania style games. Something I wouldn’t think can work, but it just might. Youku’s Island Express is available on all major platforms for $19.99.
There is not much story in Yoku’s Island Express, but what is there, is done well. Cutscenes are beautifully animated and the on screen chat bubbles are written well. You play as Yoku, a beetle postman trying to save the island. While on your journey, no matter how tough things get, if you see a mailbox, you must deliver the mail.
It’s a weird mechanic in an even weirder game.
The campaign takes about 6 hours to complete, and during the course of the campaign, I had a hard time getting used to some of the controls. It’s a Metroidvania-style game (so you are learning new skills as you go on) but that was never a problem
What was the problem was moving Yoku.
Pinball is the main gameplay mechanic, but you still control Yoku. and can move him around. You move Yoku and find different flippers to engage in pinball. When you are using the flippers for the pinball aspect, you still have control over Yoku; that’s what I had a hard time with. Whenever I would see flippers, I would forget that I have the ability to move Yoku, something I never really got used to, meaning I often got myself stuck until I remembered I could make Yoku move left or right.
All of the pinball sections are excellently crafted. Some of them are extremely difficult, and require some shots that need precise accuracy and timing, almost too precise that it may or may not have made me rage quit a few times.
This was the best part of the game.
The pinball really worked and stood out as the star. Some of the pinball areas required you to collect certain items to be able to progress, others were just areas to collect fruit. Whatever the objective for the area, it was always fun and well done.
For most of the game, traversing the island can be a chore. You have a map, and can see where you are and where you need to go, but that doesn’t always translate well on how to get there. I was lost more than I was on the right path during my time with the game. Later in the game, you will unlock fast travel, which costs fruit to use but did help with navigating the map.
As you go through the game, you have your main quest — which puts a marker in your map — but you will encounter other NPCs that will offer side quests; the side quest then goes on your map as well. When you look at the map, there are times you think you are close to where you need to be to complete one of these quests, but I still managed to get lost. There is a level of verticality to the map which makes it difficult to find certain areas you are looking for.
As you go through the game you are collecting fruit. The main use of fruit is to unlock more flippers to unlock other areas. This was just another way for me to get lost. It seemed that some flippers would just lead to dead ends even though the map made it look like I was heading in the right direction.
The Island is beautiful, so even when I was lost, everything was still aesthetically pleasing. The island was riddled with secrets and collectibles so if you enjoy the game even after rolling credits you will have plenty to do and can stay busy for hours.
Yoku’s Island Express is a unique blend of game mechanics that should never go well together but actually blend together nicely. The map was easy to get lost in, but the island was beautiful, and it had fun mechanics. I give this one a thumbs up and recommend it to any fan of the blended genres. There’s a lot to do here and its easy to get lost in.
Final Score :— 6.5/10 —