Yoku’s Island Express is another game that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on its own – at least not for a long time – when it showed up in the August 2019 Humble Monthly, I figured it was worth a shot. As someone who isn’t particularly good at pinball or platformers, I didn’t go in expecting a whole lot.
But after roughly 7 hours, I managed to finish the main story of the game (despite my save file putting me a mere 37% completion), and for me, that qualifies as a satisfying game experience, especially considering how low my skill threshold is.
It was a near thing, too, because of this stupid vine filled with flowers I needed to spin around on. Out of my seven hours of play, it’s no exaggeration to say that at least two of those, I spent trying to get up to the top of this vine. For three days in a row, I would play for more than half an hour, just trying to make all those jumps and failing over and over. Finally, I told myself that if I couldn’t make it up during that play session, I was done.
Clearly, I just needed an ultimatum.
Otherwise, I found the game to be not terribly difficult, although I started playing with the keyboard, and since keys are NOT remappable, found myself using my Logitech controller instead. The pinball mechanics felt a whole lot more natural using a controller’s trigger rather than the left and right shift keys (which my brain thinks of as interchangeable, so I’m sure that was part of the problem).
That said, if something wasn’t absolutely required to progress, and I couldn’t figure it out within a few minutes, I just moved past it. Completionists might struggle more, but I decided early on that I would be happy if I could get through the story.
I did consult a walkthrough a couple of times in order to figure out where I needed to go in order to obtain a couple of required upgrades, but mostly, I muddled around a lot. Sure, I’d point myself in the direction of a quest, but if I got off track and ended up at the other end of the map? I would explore a little before trying to get myself back to where I needed to be.
Overall, I thought Yoku’s Island Express was clever, and generally felt good to play, but it isn’t going to end up on a list of my all-time favorite games anytime soon. In fact, it’s not even my favorite pinball-centric game (that title would have to go to Rollers of the Realm, which I enjoyed immensely). I doubt I’ll be re-visiting it for another play through, or even to seek out achievements and a higher completion percentage, but I definitely enjoyed playing.