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Impressions: Wyv & Keep

The found vikings

Featured post It's like the Goonies, but with real dwarves

Can you hear that? No, listen more closely. Tune out those noisy thoughts of yours. What do you hear?

Exactly. The sound and fury of big-name game releases is on its annual Summer holiday, and the resultant quiet means us shy and retiring PC types can settle down contentedly with a fine crop of indie games for a month or two. Let’s turn our fond attention next to Wyv & Keep: The Temple of the Lost Idol, a puzzle-sorta-platformer that looks like Spelunky and plays a little like olden Blizzard gem The Lost Vikings. Only more fiendish.

Only a little like Lost Vikings, mind. The key difference (other than the fact it doesn’t star grumpy bearded men from the past) is that you’re in control of two characters, and you’re often required to play both at once rather than cooly jump between them. It’s got the best possible control system it could have for this task – WASD for one character, cursor keys for the other, and that’s it. Movement is all, and dual movement is necessary to get you to the finish line. As are fast reactions and a logical mind. It’s a classical approach in its way, but its coming at puzzle-platforming and multi-character puzzle games) with breezy cheer and expertly stripped-back systems.

Both characters are identical in everything except appearance, which lends W&K a certain purity, though I’d definitely be interested to see how it would play out if they did the Lego Star Wars thing and had per-character tweaks. No matter, it works well and it looks perfectly charming.

In what’s increasingly the model for platform-esque games, you’ve the choice of simply solving the puzzle or of collecting all the loot to end the level with maximum arbitrary reward points if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s another Spelunky link there, in that you’re controlling treasure hunters. Clearly, they want all the tresasure. Me, I’m content enough to simply logic my way through – it’s exacting stuff, with one wrong move (usually involving a crate ending up in the wrong place) often requiring a level restart. But that’s okay; that’s what Wyv and Keep is about.

You can, of course, also tackle it as a two-player affair – which I imagine would involve an awful lot of hysterical, desperate shouting but perhaps takes away the brain-bending co-ordination required to move two little guys around at once. Anyone who’s ever seen me man the drums in Rock Band will understand precisely why I am so bad at this. Time and again, I tumbled either Wyv or Keep to their tiny doom, believing I was controlling the other. This means I felt like the cleverest man in all the world when I did beat a level. Or, at least, like I wasn’t the most malcoordinated man in all the world after all.

Wyv & Keep has a free preview build out now, which is basically doing demo duties. Hooray for demos! That’s what I’ve played, so I can’t speak for the full game, but if you’re suitably tickled by the demo preview, you can pre-order it for $8. Gets you access to early builds, plus a level editor with which to construct whatever distressingly sadistic trap-levels that dark, dark mind of yours can devise.

Oh, and I particularly like the abject grief Wyv or Keep show should their other half cop it. Aw, there there.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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