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    dkirschner's Yoku's Island Express (PC)

    [July 19, 2022 04:20:24 PM]
    What a charming game. I've never played anything quite like it, as it mixes metroidvania and pinball elements, two things you wouldn't think go together, but do here. The main metroidvania elements are the big, interconnected map that you explore a little more of with every new upgrade/item. One lets you grapple on flowers, another lets you swim underwater, and so on. Moving around the map to backtrack was the only criticism I had of the whole game. Movement can feel a little sluggish, especially over long distances, and using the "beelines" to navigate longer distances was annoying because you can't get on the beeline at any stop you like; you have to go to specific junctions, which likely require you to traverse a lot of the map on foot anyway. And much like Atlanta's MARTA public transit, it usually doesn't take you where you want to go.

    Of note, there is no typical combat (which makes this super relaxing). Battles are clever pinball puzzles. These puzzles are integrated throughout the map and used not only for boss fights, but also for progression, to get upgrades, to find secret areas, and so on. Your character, Yoku, pushes a ball around, so when you're in a pinball puzzle, you have a little control over Yoku, but mainly control the flippers and bounce Yoku around to solve the puzzle. These (and the game in general) were never that difficult, but offered enough satisfying challenge to feel good about progressing.

    The art and music constantly made me smile. It's so light-hearted, colorful, and whimsical. I had no idea I would enjoy the game this much. Just writing about it is making me want to give it another go, or at least go clean up side quests and find more collectibles. There is an air of mystery about some things that I never figured out. For example, there are little onion looking creatures hidden around called Wickerlings. For every 10 you collect, you can "activate" them at these magical staves, which goes to a cut scene showing a stone illuminating around an ominous creature in an egg. If you collect all the Wickerlings...does the egg hatch? Is that bad? You sort of find out near the end of the game because you wind up finding the location in the cut scene, but I wasn't clear on it. There is another ominous cut scene every so often when your Yoku-pinball goes between the flippers, when you would normally lose on a machine (but here, you drop down through some thorns, lose some fruit [money], and land safely by another flipper to keep going). The scene shows a number ticking up and some robed figure watching. Does that do anything? Or is it just telling me how many times I've lost my ball? I will look these answers up later...

    Can we get a sequel?!
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    dkirschner's Yoku's Island Express (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 3 June, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Monday 18 July, 2022

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Such a neat concept. Metroidvania with pinball elements. Charming.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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