Late To The Game - Yoku's Island Express Review
It’s time for another episode of “Late To The Game”! Today we will be taking a look at Yoku’s Island Express developed by Villa Gorilla and published by Team 17. I picked this up for my PlayStation 4 system during a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale at GameStop last fall. I remember hearing great reviews about it, but it sat on my shelf as the standard AAA Fall blockbusters came out last year one by one such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Spider-man. Fast forward to a local meet up at my favorite video game store Next Level Videogames, my friends Nick and Kevin raved about how good this hidden gem actually is. Finally during this Spring release lull, I decided to pop this one in. And I am here to say, the reviews and talk are true, this game is great.
To explain the title, you are a beetle named Yoku, and you have been tasked with delivering mail all over the mysterious island. While delivering the mail, you will discover many secrets of the island along the way. It isn’t expressly stated why, but you are constantly rolling around a ball (presumably as your method of transportation). Although there is no direct jumping in the game, Yoku strategically uses his ball along with bumpers, flippers, and raceways to maneuver himself throughout the island. Think of this as a platformer pinball game, akin to the 90s Sonic Spinball. However, that wouldn’t be an exact comparison, because unlike the blue hedgehog, Yoku’s Island Express has smoother controls and some really intuitive level design. I alway felt that Sonic Spinball was a bit clunky, like I never truly had control over sonic in pinball form. This game is truly an open world Metroidvania game where upgrades are acquired and allow Yoku to progress into areas that were previously unobtainable.
Yoku is the opposite, every move that I make I feel as though I have direct control over the ball, and every mistake is mine to make. If I didn’t get a shot executed as planned, it usually meant I was off by a fraction of a second either too early or too late, just like in a real pinball game. Although this happens frequently, the game never gets frustrating. In fact, Yoku’s Island Express has ended up being one of the most relaxing games I have played in a long time. The very first thing you will notice when you start up the game is the catchy island tune that plays when you first boot up the game. Shortly there after, when Yoku first lands on the beach, another perfect island-themed track starts to play (arguably the best track in the game.) and letting you know that you are in for a relaxing gameplay experience.
Overall, Yoku’s Island Express is a unique game that will satisfy any gamer looking for different play style or a relaxing change of pace. The excellent controls, great soundtrack, and likable characters all combine to provide an excellent gaming experience that should not be missed! Hopefully it sold well enough to provide us with a sequel to this pinball platformer masterpiece.