The idea of Yoku’s Island Express sounds all sorts of strange: it’s a ‘pinball platformer’ that also takes inspiration from Metroid, starring a peppy little dung beetle who has to deliver letters on a tropical island following a calamitous event. Yet, all of these seemingly random elements come together to create one of the cleverest, most joyful and unique games we’ve seen in a long time.
Mokumana Island is your field of play: a sprawling isle that flows between sandy beaches, dense jungle and snow-capped mountains. Essentially, it’s as if you’re bouncing between one giant interconnected set of pinball tables, with all the bumpers, spinners and unique elements you’d expect to find on the real thing. How it takes all those base elements to craft its own inventive genre-tilting adventure is what truly impresses.
There are sections of the island that have you helping a local gang, whose members will curl up and leap in to assist you as if you’ve just activated a crazy multi-ball bonus. Later, an encounter with a giant arachnid sees you with flinging through each of its limbs before delivering a few knockout strikes to his dome. It’s a game brimming with so many smart ideas and a cast of quirky characters to meet.
There’s lots of room for exploration too. While the game is relatively short, the island of Mokumana is large enough to hide many secrets and is dotted with side quests. There’s a sense of carefree fun to it all, whether you’re simply bounding your way around uncovering hidden collectables or delivering packages to the most out of reach places. If you’re looking for a pleasant little indie gem then give Yoku’s Island Express a shot.
Developer: Villa Gorilla
Release: Out Now
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Price (RRP): £15.99