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Yoku’s Island Express is available for PC and Switch. We reviewed the PC version.
Pinball platformer. Pinball. Platformer. Platball? Pinformer? It sounds weird no matter which way you say it but y’know what? Yoku’s Island Express works and it looks damn pretty doing it.
In Yoku’s Island Express, you will mostly be pinballing with the platforming playing second fiddle and serving more as a way to get between the different areas and that’s okay. The pinball mechanics work well but might be a bit too hand holdy for veteran pinballers as it seems to pull your little post beetle into the targets more often than not. But for the rest of us, this takes it from being a difficult pinball experience to a more chill time which I really appreciate.
Normally when I get a platformer to review I panic a bit because I suck at them and I know I’m going to have to put in hours just to get past that one annoying death jump. But with Yoku I’m free to enjoy the pretty colours and the cosy atmosphere and just focus on not falling between the flippers.
But while Yoku has this beautiful pastel art style with an amazingly fun soundtrack and Rare style dialogue that just makes me chirp with delight, there’s something dark underneath. After playing for about an hour or so I fell through the gap between the flippers and instead of just taking some fruit off of me as it usually does it showed me a strange dark place with two hooded figures and a machine that now showed the number 10. And I don’t know if it went up or down. Who are they? What do they want? What does the number mean? Suddenly the idyllic paradise is terrifying and each fall is met with a fearful grimace. Will my failure allow some shadowy cult to summon the God Killer? Are my lost fruits being stolen by the Illuminati?!
All of that is put to the side quite quickly though which makes me fear that it was a hallucination on my part. Eventually, after a nice simple tutorial which teaches you that blue means Left Shift and yellow means Right Shift (you get used to it) the game opens up into a Pinball Metroidvania and I found myself genuinely loving every second. The characters all have that Rare feel to them where even though they only have a few lines of dialogue, they convey quite a bit of character.
Lately I’ve found myself being drawn more and more to indie games that I can relax while playing. Perhaps its a side effect of games journalism but after a long day of playing video games (don’t be jealous, it’s not always fun and games. Just look at some of the shit we’ve covered) it’s good to sit down with the digital equivalent of a hug.
Look, I don’t know what else you want me to say about Yoku. Yoku is an adorable dung beetle who has gotten himself a job as the postal worker for an idyllic fantasy island but unfortunately it’s currently being attacked by something called the God Killer. No-one really seems to care about where letters go as long as they go somewhere and Yoku’s enthusiastic delivery of letters into the mailboxes around the world makes me laugh. The art and music are beautiful though the gameplay can be a little simple. It’s pinball for crying out loud, do I need to spell it out? Fine. Read the first letter of every paragraph.