Yoku has arrived on Mokumana and he’s ready for the easy life, soaking up the sun and delivering parcels on a tropical paradise! However, an ancient Island deity is trapped in a restless sleep – and it’s all down to Yoku to traverse the island using a unique blend of pinball mechanics, platforming, and open world exploration, in an amazing adventure to help those in need!
Developed by Villa Gorilla
Published by Team 17
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Reviewed on PS4, also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Cost: £15.99 / $19.99
Yoku’s Island Express is classed as a Metroidvania pinball hybrid. Well, this description itself is enough to grab your attention; the game is something that can quite easily blow your mind one way or the other, good and bad, read on to see what I mean by this.
My first impression of the game was like… wow, the artwork is breathtakingly good and, with it being hand painted, it really does give it that something else.
After you have a quick conversation with the old postmaster of Mokumana Island, you are put straight into action; now a word of advice before you go further, you can play this game one way by using your brain and paying attention to what’s going on around you. If you go tearing through the level you will get bored and frustrated quite quickly. To get the most out of this game you need to put your thinking cap on.
Now when you first get moving with your pinball, which Yoku is attached to, you will find that there is no jumping; you can only move about the various platforms using the pinball tables that you find all about the place. Now Villa Gorilla have really thought about how to mash up a platformer and pinball machine as it all seamlessly works as you will find as you bounce from one platform to another, at first I found this all a bit tedious after a while as it all seemed a bit pointless but like I said before, this game is better when you put your thinking cap and you start making the most of the pinball mechanics.
You will find straight away that the mini-missions are free flowing and more or less everywhere, and can be a distraction from the story if you’re not careful. I jumped in straight away at first and kind of got lost in the levels and found myself just bouncing around. It was then when I started to realise that all the missions are kind of interlocked and if you follow a set path it makes the game flow perfectly.
The game rolls on smoothly as you unfold it’s massive free flowing map and roll around its many puzzles and collecting fruit bubbles on the way, which you will find it’s kind of the game currency as you will need to use this to unlock new bumpers and other stuff.
Yoku’s Island Express plays great from the start and, like me, you will find it more enjoyable the more you put into it. But the game comes into its own when you come across your first boss or chief battle, it’s basically a multi-ball mayhem and if you loved pinball machines as much as I did, it will take you straight back.
After this first Chief battle, you will unlock the Beeline transport system which is basically lots of beehives linked together that shoot you from one to another across the map and is a whole lot of fun. There is fun around every corner and you won’t be disappointed.
Graphics and Sound
In terms of graphics, you can’t knock Yoku’s Island Express with its hand-drawn levels that are simply stunning. The many characters you come across are well thought out and look the part. The sounds and music are good all around the game, the only gripe I do have is the voices from the characters are just warbled sounds and can get quite annoying but apart from that, it’s all good.
To summarise my thoughts on this game well at first I wanted to write that I didn’t really get it but the more I played and unlocked different items the more I fell in love with the game and Yokus (it’s hard not too) My advice is the game is a grower, what I mean by this you may need a couple of goes to get into it but keep trying as once you do you will be hooked.