Game: Yoku’s Island Express.
Developer: Villa Gorila.
Platform Reviewed: Xbox One
Metroidvanias have been mixed with multiple genres… but who would’ve thought that it would be mixed with the pinpoint accuracy of pinball?
Now to start off, I’ve not got much experience with Pinball, in fact, the only memory I have of a Pinball machine was a nightmare on elm street one during a family holiday in Turkey. I didn’t play the machine, but the image of Freddy Krueger gave me nightmares for quite some time…
In Yuko’s Island Express, you play as a beetle, who is the island’s postman, who is also tasked with saving the islands god who has been attacked by the Godslayer. That’s a lot to ask of a beetle, but in traditional videogame style, all the powerful characters stand around and wait for you to do all the hard work! You have to go and ask the three different tribes on the island for help, once completing a small task for each tribe leader they will agree to help the island god. The story is not that engaging, nothing new is done here, but its enough to keep you going, however, there is a really unexpected twist at the end! Which I will not ruin, but had me laughing and praising the Devs!
There is an interesting cast of characters, all based on animals. That offer small quests of objectives as you play throughout the game, that will unlock your abilities. There are three main abilities throughout the game that allow you to; use slugs to blow up rocks to clear paths, use a Sootling to swing on carnivorous plants and use a fish to swim to the depths of the ocean! They are very basic but work well, however, the Sooting leash (Which allows you to swing), can be irritating and very precise.Before I talk more about the gameplay, I want to mention the music… because by god is the music good!
The menu theme alone is enough to make you want to play this game!
The interesting thing about the game, as I’ve stated, is that it uses pinball tables that are implemented throughout the map as your way to; move around, unlock abilities, complete quests and even defeat bosses. This is at the core of the game and will be what you’ll enjoy and hate. At first, the Pinball mechanics are fun and interesting, when you first unlock different parts of the map by completing at times difficult tables. But as soon as, you have to travel back to certain areas, it becomes a pain… because those difficult shots you have to make the first time around… you have to make them again and again. (For someone that’s rubbish at pinball… that’s a problem). Unfortunately, the game is full of delivery style quests, (Understandable, as you are the Postman).
This can get irritating having to complete the same puzzles to get to the second point in a quest, only to find out that the final point is right by your starting point, my suggestion is to unlock the fast travel system as soon as you possibly can!
The pinball mechanics also offer an interesting twist on boss battles, there are a few which operate in the same ways. Instead of directly fighting the boss, you will have to complete objectives on the pinball table (Hit this button, spin this sign, etc). once done the boss will be open for you to well… pinball yourself at it!
The game is well thought out and fun game if you can overcome the frustration of backtracking and delivery quests, it’s well worth the fun. It took me roughly 6 hours to complete, with some completion stuff after I had beaten the main story. It’s worth the experience if you can get over the frustrating parts of the game.
Thanks for reading!