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Yoku’s Island Express review

We give our verdict on the charming open-world pinball platform game.

Yoku's Island Express
© Team17 / Villa Gorilla

Yoku’s Island Express is an absolutely over the top adorable title from Swedish developers Villa Gorilla. You play as a little beetle with your attached ball, making your way around an island of puzzles to quest away!

The gameplay is wonderfully unique and a breath of fresh air–the world is based around physics puzzles, taking into account the momentum of every move made. Where things get interesting is how it’s all utilized: pinball flippers decorate the ground and recesses of each level making it possible to shoot your character around with a simple tap of your controller’s trigger buttons. The flipper physics themselves were done quite nicely–there’s lighted arrows on each showing where your beetle sits on them and depending on where he is, he’ll be launched with a specific flight path. Some of the pinball puzzles might seem a bit tricky at first, but Yoku’s Island Express is very forgiving with its boards, looping around and catching you at the bottom instead of equating to a penalty.

Watch the Yoku’s Island Express launch trailer below:

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There is also a strong Metroidvania aspect of Yoku’s Island Express. The levels are available to move back and forth in, but when you’re in a particular area you’ll find yourself doing quite a bit of backtracking around the place to figure out the puzzles. Many of the previously mentioned pinball flippers are unlockables through a currency of found fruit. The flippers themselves open up new paths for progression. As you find fruit to unlock these, you’ll notice that your beetle has a wallet that can only hold so much at a time. This is upgradable, of course. But it causes you to spend, then backtrack to get enough again to progress. It’s not too much of a hassle, and the levels are designed in an easy going way so you only get gently lost, but it still can be a little grumble to find yourself having to go back. The good thing about losing (I use the term very loosely!) yourself in the level is that Yoku’s Island Express is keen on rewarding for exploration.

Yoku’s Island Express also dazzles with its insanely adorable and colourful graphics. The backgrounds of the levels are lush and well put together–plenty of attention to detail that shows. The characters you interact with could easily be turned into a cuddly plush toy. The animation is a treat to witness and exudes the fact that it was made with love, along with a fitting and bouncy soundtrack to round it out for the rest of the senses. I feel like I could easily be playing a Saturday morning cartoon with Yoku’s Island Express, and am over the moon I can step into the world myself!

View some screenshots from Yoku’s Island Express in our gallery:

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High recommendations from me, however if you have very young children that might get frustrated easily this might not be a game for them. It’s very much a title made to be enjoyed by the whole family otherwise. It’s well polished, designed to make you feel good in every sense of the word and a fantastic addition to any game library.

Yoku’s Island Express was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: Team17 Developer: Villa Gorilla Release Date: May 29th, 2018 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC

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