The title might sound like a generic little indie game, but Yoku’s Island Express is much more than that. Developed by Villa Gorilla and published by Team17, Yoku’s Island Express is a gorgeous pinball-style platformer game. In fact, it is described as an open-world pinball-style adventure.
You play as Yoku a Dung Beatle come to replace the former postmaster, a pterodactyl. You won’t just be postman pat though. No, the Island has secrets embedded within it. You, therefore, set off on an adventure to help those on the island who need your help. And what a gorgeous hand-painted Island it is. The colours are vibrant and inviting and really help set the stage for your adventure. The island also displays a personality, like it is hiding deeper secrets.
As for Yoku, he too is an adorable character that manages to do enough with little interaction to worm his way into our hearts. Dragging his ball around behind, and having it launch him, really makes us feel for the hard-working dung beetle. We want to help him on his perilous, nausea-inducing journey.
And boy does he get pulled around. For a game like this to work, the gameplay mechanics must be flawless. The game manages to mix intricate platforming with fast-paced pinball mechanics. Many Sonic players will attest, there is nothing like the feeling of complex speed play.
An objective of the game is to collect fruit to unlock abilities and areas to continue. Collecting the fruit in certain areas means different angles created by the paddles is needed. You are not just mashing the paddles endlessly, rather you have to be me more nuanced to get everywhere and collect all the fruit.
The Island is also truly open-world, with us having to backtrack to go forward. Going back forces us to reassess areas we have already completed to get to our new goal. It is very clever design, something akin to Dark Souls, only nicer and less terrifying.
Yoku’s Island Adventure is a fun little game that seems tailor-made for the Nintendo Switch, a system it is slated to release on next year, along with Xbox One PS4 and Steam. We urge you keep this game on your radar because we can’t wait to help our new best friend with his troubles.