Free from Epic – Yuko’s Island Express

I actually remember helping my youngest child play a demo of this game at some point. It’s a really cute and well crafted take on what would otherwise be a very random pinball game. The basic premise is that you’re a new postal worker who happens to be a small red beetle. Given the ball to which you’re leashed, I would propose that it’s a dung beetle.

Aside from the variety of pinball related challenges, most of which require you to collect runes or manipulate the environment in some way, the primary progression comes from collecting enough fruit to unlock entrances to new areas. They seem to cost either 30 or 80 and there were certainly times that I had to go back to old boards in order to collect more fruit.

Despite having a fairly robust map, routing can be less than straightforward. Still, the overall format is a bit loose at times. Progression can feel a bit metroidvania like at times. Exploring part of one area to unlock a new ability or find out where something is then doubling back to grab the thing that you need.

I would say that there’s a lot of fetch quest type action, but you’re the postmaster, so yeah.

While anything resembling combat is quite rare, there are a couple of boards that have a slightly combative setup. Most of it is like the other areas and more a matter of problem solving and figuring out what you’re expected to do rather than anything overtly combative. Still, it was interesting to see some of the different challenges and approaches they incorporated into these sections.

The art style and environments were good, if stylized.There are a lot of little secrets and hidden places to find if you’re paying attention. There were actually several areas I never figured out how to access. Some simply because I couldn’t figure out how to physically get there and others because I couldn’t find the required item.

There are also some very strange characters as well. The underground area has mysterious hooded warriors and the snowy peaks are home to frogs called “space monks” that build giant rockets to the moon. Most of these various groups or species have a chief that you’re supposed to be finding and asking to attend a healing ritual. Solving their problems, usually. Each of them also have their own biome and none of them seem to be fond of visitors. Most of them require some new ability or unlock to gain entry.

There’s also a great deal of optional content as well. I managed to collect about half the little sproutlings required to do whatever this was. You use them 10 at a time to light torches scattered around the island. Despite playing for about 7 hours and completing the main story content as well as wandering around a great deal, they game reported me has having about 54% completed.

There are actually a number of side quests that require you to visit and explore different areas of the island to find specific locations or puzzles. From planting mushrooms all over the island to collecting parts of what appear to be a petrified wizard.

On the whole it’s a nice little game. There are a variety of things I’m leaving out, like ways to color and decorate your ball. It’s perhaps not for everyone, but it was a good way to spend several hours for no cost. If I had one complaint it’s that some of the boards require a degree of accuracy that ends up feeling more like luck. There are places that feel a little frustrating when it’s easy to fall into the lower section and difficult to get back to the upper section.

Y’all take care. Watch out for explosive slugs.

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