Yoku’s Island Express Review
Only a few times in any generation of consoles do we get a title like Yoku’s Island Express, a game full of charm, but coupled with fantastic unique gameplay that makes you realize you are playing something truly special. One part Metroidvania and one part pinball, Yoku’s Island Express balances both ideas perfectly. Team 17 has created and published something truly special, and they deserve a ton of praise for it!
You are a postman…ahem…post beetle named Yoku, and you’ve arrived on a foreign island to take over the letter carrying duties. You will travel around a seamless connected world using pinball levers spread out all over the world. While certain areas are locked until you’ve learned a specific skill – which come at a great pace to keep you playing – pushing yourself forward is well balanced, and rarely frustrating, which is key to a title like this.
Yoku’s only actions are the ability to push his ball left and right, and that’s it. Everything else is handled by the game’s many mini pinball like tables spread all over the world. Although you’ll never spend a ton of time on any one given area, there is a certain ‘puzzle’ to complete within each that can take a few moments to figure out. Once you do, however, it’s simply mastering button press timing to make your way to the next area of the map.
And that process is perfect. With so many interesting characters to meet, side quests to complete, and items to find, moving forward always provides the opportunity to learn or find something new. And as the game only takes 6-8 hour to complete, you will likely never be stuck in any one place for too long.
As you move throughout the world, you will collect fruit that will help you unlock previously unattainable areas by allowing you to use bumpers that were previously unusable. This method of unlocking new areas works incredibly well, and made me stick around specific areas longer than I needed to, in order to obtain more and more fruit pieces.
That being said, when you do find yourself in a specific area longer than you might like – for example, collecting fruit pieces – the environments and aesthetics of each and every part of the world is fantastic. From the colourful sunny areas found near the top of the island, to the dark and dreary recesses of the depths, there is a sense of beauty throughout, regardless of where you find yourself. The hidden paths and collectibles are inserted into the world in a fantastic way, encouraging exploration and rewarding those who really dive into all the great areas the developers have created.
Ultimately, Yoku’s Island Express is full of charm, beautifully detailed, and unique in such a way that you’ll feel like you are missing out on something this generation if you don’t get the opportunity to play the game. Like Ori and the Blind Forest, the gameplay and story here is something you don’t want to look over. For a great price, and at a good length, there is no reason why anyone should miss out!
Yoku’s Island Express is available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. This review was completed using a copy provided by the publisher, on Xbox One!