Yoku's Island Express

Yoku's Island Express Review: Pinball Meets Paradise

Yoku's Island Express is a breath of fresh air in the metroidvania genre, blending pinball mechanics with exploration and platforming in a vibrant world.

last updated Dec 21, 2023
It's a love letter to indie gaming ingenuity and a testament to the genius that can come from taking risks.

Flipper-Fueled Odyssey

Yoku's Island Express turns the conventional metroidvania on its head with a fusion of pinball mechanics that injects a fresh dose of momentum into the genre. The result is nothing short of a joyous, physics-based adventure that nudges the boundaries of what a platformer can be. The momentum-based gameplay is brilliantly woven into the world around Yoku, offering a satisfyingly tactile means of traversal. The array of flippers and bumpers scattered across the island aren't just for clever cosmetics; they form the very fabric of movement, creating a rhythmic dance as you navigate the terrain. It's a delightful balance of skill and whimsy that keeps your fingers twitching in pinball wizardry bliss.

A Symphonic Serenade in the Tropics

The auditory delights of Yoku's Island Express complement the tropical reverie, dialing the charm up to eleven. The soundscape brims with life, from the plinks and plops of pinball play to the ambient chirps and whistles of the island's flora and fauna. The soundtrack mixes peppy beats with a melody of sunny island vibes that's sure to stick in your head like the memory of a perfect summer's day. As you ricochet around the island, the thuds and clacks of the pinball elements hit all the right notes, providing that gratifying arcade-like feedback. It's clear that audio isn't just an afterthought; it's a core element of the game's immersive world, with not a single beep out of place.

Visual Vibrancy and Virtuoso Vistas

Graphically, Yoku's Island Express is an ultra-vibrant burst of color and creativity. The hand-painted aesthetic oozes charisma, with environments that are as lush and varied as a tropical smoothie menu. From sandy shores to snowy summits, the game’s environments are exquisitely crafted, all running as smooth as butter on a hot plate, even in the midst of pinball action. It's rare for a game to make such efficient use of the color palette, giving each biome a distinct, eye-catching look. However, this isn't just about being pretty; it's about performance too, and happily, Yoku's Island Express doesn't disappoint, boasting an impressive level of polish that would make even the shiniest pinball proud.

A Narrative That Doesn't Skimp on the Nectar

Nestled within Yoku's world is a narrative that blossoms slowly but sweetly. The storyline is simple yet effective, with enough intrigue to keep you engaged without overshadowing the game's core mechanics. The characters you'll meet along the way, from a sulky pterodactyl to a deity in distress, are just as quirky as the gameplay itself. Exploring the island and discovering its secrets becomes more than a quest; it's a pleasure cruise with surprising emotional depth. To top it off, the humor sprinkled throughout the journey ensures that even when you're scratching your head over a tricky pinball section, you're likely doing it with a grin.

The Joy and the Jank

Venturing into Yoku's Island can sometimes feel like riding a rollercoaster designed by a crazed dung beetle - it's a thrilling ride most of the time, but occasionally you may find yourself wishing you had a bit more control over the journey. The precariously placed paddles can lead to moments of frustration, as the need for precision can cruelly slow down your adventure or send you bouncing to oblivion (and not the good kind). Patience will become either your best friend or worst enemy. And while this blend of pinball and platforming is mostly a match made in heaven, there are spots where it feels like the flippers flip you the bird. But stay strong, grasshopper; perseverance in the face of such trials only sweetens the victory. Game Cover Art
STEAM RATING 96 .62% Developer Villa Gorilla Publisher Team17 Digital Ltd Release Date May 29, 2018

The Verdict

Yoku's Island Express takes the metroidvania genre and gives it a playful bounce with its pinball-infused antics. It's a game brimming with joy, charm, and vibrant life—wrapped up in a package that's as quirky as it is endearing. Sure, the precision required can occasionally tip the scales from delightful challenge to mild annoyance, but that's a mere hiccup in an otherwise seamless blend of creativity and fun. It's a love letter to indie gaming ingenuity and a testament to the genius that can come from taking risks. Whether you're a pinball wizard or a platforming savant, or just in need of a vacation to a tropical island—this game is sure to flip your flippers. Highly recommended.