Yoku’s Island Express (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 29.05.2018 2

Review for Yoku’s Island Express on Xbox One

The God Slayer is threatening the isle of Mokumana! The fiend has already attacked the valiant Mokuma, leaving its horrific mark upon the face of the island god. Is there no one that can stop this pure evil? Well, it wouldn't be much of game if there wasn't anyone that could save the day. The hopes of the island rest in the tiny hands of Yoku, the newest postmaster. Not content with just delivering mail, the beetle sets out on a massive adventure, one filled to the brim with flippers and bumpers. That's strange. Is this an island or an oversized pinball table? Clearly the mysteries of Yoku's Island Express are as boundless as the surrounding ocean.

From the very beginning, it's clear that Yoku's Island Express is unlike anything else out there. Combining the wildly different genres of metroidvania and pinball, this manages to carve out a surprisingly appealing niche. As the dung beetle Yoku, players explore the island, make some friends, and gather copious amounts of fruit. The locally-grown sweets are used to unlock numerous springs throughout Mokumana, offering access to new areas. Also, acquiring certain items and allies will allow the postmaster to swim, destroy path-clogging walls, and even swing from carnivorous plants. The willingness to explore and consider every possible option is a necessity in order to uncover all of the deviously hidden collectibles.

Screenshot for Yoku’s Island Express on Xbox One

Now, for fans of metroidvania, that's all well and good, but how exactly does pinball fit into this equation? It all starts with the island itself. A relatively small portion of game-time is spent walking towards the next destination. In fact, most areas are connected by tubes or ramps, and Yoku is propelled through them by bumpers that are placed everywhere. On several occasions, players will also have to help the beetle navigate tables, and they are appropriately filled with an array of drop-targets and kick-out-holes. The flippers are controlled via the left and right triggers. As would be expected from classic pinball, a basic grasp of aim and momentum is necessary in order to progress. Even for those who aren't familiar with the terminology or even the game itself, it doesn't take more than a few seconds to understand what to do next.

Just to be clear, the approach that Yoku's Island Express takes is one not often found in videogames, and it's not just about the genre mash-up. Unlike almost everything else out there, this title embraces a mind-set that knows only peace and tranquillity. There are moments of danger and even sadness, but neither Yoku's livelihood, nor life, is ever actually threatened. In other words, there's no need to worry about losing lives, getting a game over, or somehow rendering the game unfinishable. Given enough time and patience, success is guaranteed. Although there are times where the ball can fall in-between flippers and land in a bed of thorns, the only things that are lost are a couple fruit.

Screenshot for Yoku’s Island Express on Xbox One

Admittedly, this discovery comes as a bit of a shock. Something where the entire point is to relax? What a novel concept! There will be many times throughout where people will be waiting, possibly even hoping, for the other shoe to drop. Maybe there's a bad ending, or some condition that locks folk out of certain areas? Perhaps there's even a secret method to achieve a game over, one that requires constant and deliberate mistakes? Shockingly enough, there are none, absolutely none at all. There's no reason to get stressed out. Just go at a pace that feels comfortable and take in the lovely sights and sounds.

Screenshot for Yoku’s Island Express on Xbox One

It's strange, yet this concept called "fun." Years have been spent dodging hundreds of billions of bullets in shmups, dying over and over again in roguelikes, and generally being put through a grinder of extreme circumstances. All this time, it was believed that fun could only be found by hanging precariously over the edge, as hundreds of fighter-jets and alien warships swarmed in. Overcoming the impossible; that's what makes people feel alive, right? Well, so does living. There's a surprising amount of fun to be had listlessly exploring an island and doing good deeds. Some won't realise it at first, but they will be glad they had the chance to reach that stage.

The point is that this is a palate cleanser; it's an escape from the harsh virtual reality. To put it another way, it's a videogame for people who are tired of videogames. There are moments that err on the side of frustration, but nothing remotely approaching strenuous. The penalties for failure are practically non-existent. Also, just so that there isn't any confusion, this is thoroughly competent in its design and mechanics. Not once will anyone ever feel cheated by some nonsensical design-decision, nor will Yoku's ball ever fly wildly off course and get stuck in a wall.

Screenshot for Yoku’s Island Express on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

For everyone out there who has been beaten down by the relentless pursuit of thrills and high scores, Yoku's Island Express is going to feel very refreshing. It's a charming vacation filled with beautiful locales. Taking the time to explore everything is highly recommended. The emphasis on pinball lends the game a superbly-realised identity. Utilising an array of bumpers and flippers to get around is somehow more fulfilling than tapping a jump button repeatedly. Altogether, this is a worthwhile venture for anyone who needs a break.

Developer

Villa Gorilla

Publisher

Team17

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I loved this game, it was my favourite game I've played this year (that actually came out in 2018). Typically, I've never been much of a "Metroidvania" fan. The maze-like structure to the worlds always hampered my enjoyed, as I'd usually get lost or have no clue how to progress in the game. However, Yoku's unique gameplay twist really made this one a really fun experience from beginning to end (100% completed).

I wouldn't say I'm a huge pinball fan or anything, but I do enjoy the mechanics of pinball games and have had fun with some pinball games in the past, so it was definitely something I really appreciated in this game. I also loved that it wasn't overly difficult, the difficulty really came from playing pinball well and hitting shots on target. This was really cool, because it actually taught you the mechanics to a certain degree of real pinball. There's no way of dying, there's no lives or hindering checkpoints and I like games like that. Just helps make the game flow better.

The level design, the art, and the music are all fantastic and really bring the island to life. There's some great characters and dialogue, too! I really like how they are designed.

Initially I was worried about no fast travel option, but after a bit, you start to unlock the island's travel system and it's a fantastic and quite unique, and accompanied by some awesome music. It always felt weirdly satisfying to get around.

Really fun and relaxed game.

Our member of the week

I Am Panda said:
I loved this game, it was my favourite game I've played this year (that actually came out in 2018). Typically, I've never been much of a "Metroidvania" fan. The maze-like structure to the worlds always hampered my enjoyed, as I'd usually get lost or have no clue how to progress in the game. However, Yoku's unique gameplay twist really made this one a really fun experience from beginning to end (100% completed).

I wouldn't say I'm a huge pinball fan or anything, but I do enjoy the mechanics of pinball games and have had fun with some pinball games in the past, so it was definitely something I really appreciated in this game. I also loved that it wasn't overly difficult, the difficulty really came from playing pinball well and hitting shots on target. This was really cool, because it actually taught you the mechanics to a certain degree of real pinball. There's no way of dying, there's no lives or hindering checkpoints and I like games like that. Just helps make the game flow better.

The level design, the art, and the music are all fantastic and really bring the island to life. There's some great characters and dialogue, too! I really like how they are designed.

Initially I was worried about no fast travel option, but after a bit, you start to unlock the island's travel system and it's a fantastic and quite unique, and accompanied by some awesome music. It always felt weirdly satisfying to get around.

Really fun and relaxed game.


We know it's you Marzipan, no one else has such a love for Yoku's Island Express Smilie. Thanks for the feedback though ^^

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Sasari

There are 1 members online at the moment.