“TWRM GOTY 2018” – Yoku’s Island Express

The TWRM GOTY 2018 Collab has begun! This special event consists of multiple writers making their best cases for their picks for GOTY 2018. Check out each article posted daily from the 1st through the 15th and listen to their points, then on January 16th you will have the opportunity to vote on which game you think should be crowned TWRM GOTY of 2018!


Yoku’s Island Express

Developer: Villa Gorilla
Publisher: Team17
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Platform/Console: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Platforming, pinball, adventure


FF3-NES-OnionKnight.png “The following is a contributor post by the Moronic Cheese Mage.”

As a bit of an indie game connoisseur, these little gems liven up my life. They often spring out of nowhere and so many of them are most excellent. Examples: Dead Cells is almighty and Celeste made plenty of headlines this year, too. The latter is generally thought of as the best indie game of 2018.

But I’m flagging up Yoku’s Island Express as my Game of the Year. It’s a quirky, upbeat pinball Metroidvania title from Sweden’s indie studio Villa Gorilla.

An odd enough concept, sure, but one that’s enough to replace anyone’s grimace with a big old happy smile.

After founding in 2013, the dev team set about working on an open-world pinball adventure. I remember seeing the previews in 2017 and it immediately caught my attention – bright, colourful, fun looking. All big ticks in my indie game loving book.

And the end result is nothing short of utterly delightful. The pinball mechanic largely works like a treat and includes flippers, ramps, tracks, and bumpers. He’s a pinball wizard, there has to be a twist. Well, there isn’t. Although that’s not to suggest the game is easy.

It’s a busy little title and one I feel is the closest resemblance to the awesome Ori and the Blind Forest (on the Nintendo Switch and PS4, at any rate). The huge map is impressive and, early on, you’re left wondering how to traverse its heights.

Once into the gameplay, there’s a seamless flow to the open-world – you always seem to head in the right direction, which is terrific level design right there.

And as you progress you pick up some fancy new power-ups. You’ll sling your way to greater heights and whack those flippers to send little Yoku, a dung beetle acting as a mail man, towards his goal of helping the islanders.

Really this thing has a major charm offensive. It’s just a complete joy to play – it left me beaming happily, all my worries in the world gone as the beautiful graphics, brilliant soundtrack, and challenge drew me fully into the experience.

For its joyous focus on what video games are supposed to be – fun – I’m picking this one even above my beloved Dead Cells. And even above Celeste and The Messenger, all world-class indie titles.

All stunning, but just missing out on that extra dollop of ecstatic wonder that helps Yoku’s Island Express stand out from its peers.

It’s available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Well worth a shindig.


+ Uniquely quirky, upbeat pinball Metroidvania.
+ Terrific level design.
+ What video games are supposed to be – fun!
+ Joyous and life-affirming.

– It’s an indie game, so it’s over far too quickly (but as you’re enjoying it so much).
– The pinball mechanic can be a bit random, which is occasionally frustrating.


The Moronic Cheese Mage is also known as Wapojif. That’s Mr. Wapojif to you. He’s a self-deprecating humorist with his head on straight. For silliness and surreal humour, definitely find your way to his blog at


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