From time to time, a game appears that presents a new idea. It could be a new twist on a clbadic. It could be a fusion of two genres. It can be something exceptionally unique and unheard of. Yoku's Island Express handles all this by tilting the table and turning the metroidvania genre on its head. With pinball.
Actually, it is not entirely clear where it originates from Yoku & # 39; s Island Express . Both the metroidvania and pinball aspects are so well represented and expanded that it could be a pinball game that has been given the open world treatment. It's a great feeling when you play because the whole game manages to feel new and exciting. Power-ups mean re-exploring old areas for new hidden and collectable secrets, but pinball sections around the world require the same kind of pinball magic that The Who sang so many years ago.
Yoku is a dung beetle, newly arrived on the island of Mokumana to serve as his postmaster. Rolling his little white ball around the island to deliver the mail, Yoku quickly discovers a great darkness that threatens the existence of the island and all its inhabitants. The whole island of Mokumana works as a series of pinball tables to solve riddles and get to the next area, but there is enough platform between the sections of the table so that it does not feel like a series of simply chained pinball tables. Yoku's Island Express constantly wants you to forget if it's a pinball game or a side-scrolling adventure, and it does it in a way that makes the game always endearing. There is a natural flow of each moment, and without loading times means Yoku is impossible to leave.
Exploring the island
The secret paths, defenses, platforms and other elements that connect the entire map really remember the best metroidvania games, sometimes hiding the most important secrets right in the first moments of the game. Yoku will revisit locations and tables regularly, and also unlocks shortcuts that will allow you to easily pbad from one side of the island to another. Several side quests will send Yoku back and forth across the map, and I never got tired of the different environments that make up the Mokumana Island.
Much of that charm comes from the hand-painted art style that reminded me a lot Rayman -specifically the two most recent games, ] Rayman Legends and Origins . The bright, sunny beach is flooded with vibrant blues and greens. The thickness of the forest becomes darker with deeper greens, which gives it the feeling of being deep in a jungle. The windswept slopes and snow-capped mountain feel menacing when I reached the ridge of jagged rocks before heading out to a quiet, cold peak overlooking the rest of the island. It is a beautiful and rewarding moment after the arduous task of climbing the dangers to reach the top.
Embracing its metroidvania side, Yoku's Island Express ensures that there are a lot of mysteries and secrets to solve and objects to collect on the island. The new skills will open completely new paths and reveal new ways of playing some of the tables, which in turn offer access to new places. The new characters will provide Yoku with new objectives and tasks. From the depths of the Dark Antipode to the mountain peaks, there was much to discover even after the story was complete. There were some elements that the game never seemed to do much, such as the ability to change the colors of the balls. For most of my time playing, I thought that this was just cosmetic, until a single puzzle required me to change the appearance of my ball. I wondered why other riddles had not used this kind of intelligent mechanics.
There are still many bright riddles with fun solutions and "aha!" Moments. Spread throughout the game. The limited use of some mechanics gives me hope that the idea of an open world of the metropolis world has not been played yet. I think the Villa Gorilla team could explore this idea much more and continue to iterate on it. In fact, Villa Gorilla is made up of three people, and I am more than impressed that such an expansive and polished game as Yoku & # 39; s Island Express comes from such a small team.
He sure plays a Mean Pinball
A great pinball game is as good as his physics, and Yoku's Island Express has this right. It is difficult to say if I would call physics completely realistic, but the ball has a good amount of weight. Some of the more complicated tables can be as hard as you would expect from a real pinball table, complete with narrow and difficult shots. Yoku can not die or truly fail, but falling through thorny brambles between the two fins causes Yoku to lose fruit, a coin on the island. It also increases a counter in a secret area, affecting something in one of the post-game missions.
This part of Yoku & # 39; s Island Express can frustrate some people. The tables are worked naturally in the environment, never feeling like a "table", but as a platform with fins. While the art is impressive and beautiful, it is not always obvious what you need to hit or where you should aim later. Very occasionally the road can be quite occluded or at a really difficult angle. My personal frustration came in the form of purple flowers on which you can swing. Getting the correct trajectory to dismount was always an exercise in patience. While I appreciated the level of difficulty offered by some of the sections in of Yoku I am sure that there will be those who will be stuck and frustrated in certain sections focused on pinball. It is a game that will test your metroidvania intelligence and your pinball skills in the best way.
If there is a major disadvantage in Yoku's adventure, it is that he wanted more. As expansive as is the island of Mokumana, I simply could not stop playing once I had completed everything the island had to offer me. I was constantly amazed at smart designs around the world, whether it was simple platforms with bumpers and fins, or a complex boss battle with a multi-level pinball table and an ingenious version of the "extra ball" mechanic. " Yes, there are pinball boss battles at Yoku & # 39; s Island Express . I just want to see what other clever things Villa Gorilla can bring to expand the bright and addictive ideas at stake.
Yoku & # 39; s Island Express is the pinball adventure of the open world that you never knew you wanted, but you desperately need to play. Vibrant art, expansive world and funny story come together with the best elements of metroidvania and pinball games to create a new experience different from any other.
Yoku & # 39; s Island Express revision code provided by the publisher. Version 1.00 revised in the PS4 standard. For more information about scoring, read our Review Policy.