I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the world of gaming. You get to live out as practically anything you want. Want to be a soldier? No problem. Want to race around in cars? Sure. Want to be a superstar in sports? You got it. How about if you could be a dung beetle that aspires to become a postmaster on an island? Well… now this dream can be a reality, too, thanks to Yoku’s Island Express – a take on the classic metroidvania template from Team 17. Fancy knowing a bit more? Then read on my fellow gamer and prepare yourself for a treat.
You take on the role of a delightful little dung beetle called Yoku who has headed to the island of Mokumana to take it easy now-a-days. He wants to be the best parcel deliverer he can so he can become the renowned ‘Postmaster’. It soon becomes very clear that this sun-kissed island is home to some eerie goings on and things are not as they seem. There’s only one dung beetle that can save the day and the island – the one and only Yoku.
You’ll need to explore the entire island to meet some colourful and creative characters; these guys will help you out at the end but I’m not going to give away too much. Each significant character has their own section of the island. Traverse your way around and you can’t help but find them.
One of my favourite aspects is that there’s no fighting involved with these super figures; it’s much more pleasant where you help them and the favour is returned – a very refreshing take in this age we’re in. Once you’ve acquired the help of each boss, the mood of the area changes and you’re no longer viewed as an outsider. You’re then able to search and loot – trust me when I say you need to explore thoroughly as what you find will be required for the later stages.
Now I can’t really go much further without talking about the puzzles you will face. There’s been a spark of genius at work as here and there you’ll encounter a pinball-like mechanic within the game. The ball attached to Yoku (he is a dung beetle after all) acts as the pinball. You need to use flippers and bumpers to bash him around and hit the correct areas or collect the required pieces.
Each puzzle is frustratingly beautiful where the solution is easy to spot but proves challenging to achieve. A massive tip of my hat to the developers as it’s not too difficult – there’s a challenge, but it’s not so hard that you lose interest and patience. Other puzzle games should take note of this. As is the trend with puzzlers, they start off nice and easy but progressively increase into more complex brain scratchers, but the element of fun is maintained throughout.
As you can see from the pictures and the trailer, the environment and artwork are truly stunning. You quickly become immersed in the vibe of Yoku’s Isalnd Express. The whole thing is a pleasure on the eyes; you can see the amount of time the developer has spent getting this just right.
This visuals help you really get into the game, and raise the enjoyment level up a notch or two. As mentioned before, each area of the island is different, and so is the terrain. You’ll be enjoying the jungle one minute and then exploring a wintry patch the next. As for the music, it’s bang on the button there too. Each area has a theme and a tune so well refined it just simply works. The variety is brilliant – it is the spice of life after all.
So all in all, what can I say about Yoku’s Island Express? It’s a beautiful puzzler that’s stress and rage free. You can pick up and play whenever without too much trouble – you’ll remember what you need to do. It’s colourful, vibrant and superbly designed from start to finish. You’ll encounter memorable characters on your journey and each area while give you a plethora of things to enjoy. The pinball mechanic is a stroke of genius and an extremely fresh take, frustrating at times but I really enjoyed this added feature.
By now you might have guessed Yoku’s Island Express was a game I really REALLY loved playing, not just me though as my gaming daughter also loved it too. I would say you won’t be disappointed if you added this to your game collection, and that’s something I don’t say very often. Just two little tips from me as I’m nice like that; always make sure the mail gets delivered, and keep on blowing that horn – makes no sense now but when you play then all will become clear.
Yoku’s Island Express is released on the 29th of May for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Check your preferred method of buying games for the price and system requirements if needed.
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The most fun we've ever had as a mail-delivering dung beetle.
- Overall - 9/109/10
Yoku’s Island Express is a platform puzzler with great visuals and soundtrack to match. A title that should be in your library! Who’d have thought delivering mail would be so much fun!