Saturday 18 June 2011

Wyv & Keep (Preview) (PC/XBLA)

Earlier this week I received a press release from indie studio Jolly Corpse about Wyv & Keep, a new co-op two player game that promised to deliver "mind-boggling puzzles with exciting action elements". Well, normally I'd take a passing glance at the website before (probably) moving on to something else, but as soon as I saw the Fallen Angel Industries logo on the page, I knew that it was at least worthy of a download - and Wyv & Keep most certainly was.

The Sokoban style box-moving gameplay with arcade elements immediately reminded me of X-it, an old Amiga Psygnosis game that I used to play back in the 1990's (and there's a actually PC remake that's worth checking out), but the core difference here is that Wyv & Keep is viewed from a side-on perspective and the puzzles are designed to be solved by two players working co-operatively. Oh, and it's a whole lot better too, with some really nice pixel-work and top quality audio.

In the preview there are only eight levels (all of which can be beaten with a little forethought and a lot of determination) and thankfully the game is still wholly playable with just one player (using the shift key to swap characters, or ambidextrous peeps can attempt to wield both cursor keys and WASD simultaneously). Utilising just four directional keys (no fire button) you jump around the single screen puzzles, avoiding traps and hazards with the goal of activating and reaching the exit with either Wyv or Keep, two immediately loveable tomb raiders on a mission to retrieve untold riches from a long-forgotten temple in Amazonia. As you'd expect, this normally involves shoving boxes across platforms (and each other) in order to overcome obstacles or activate a switch to open the exit, but the level of finesse and intelligent design levitates it above casual game mediocrity, almost into the realms of hardcore challenge supremecy, alongside Derek Yu's Spelunky - especially on later levels when bombs are introduced (which interestingly, are also required to be used as platforms prior to detonation, resulting in some adrenaline-pumping sections as you frantically leap from bomb to bomb, seconds away from death).

The preview does however have a couple of quirks that I've been assured will be addressed; there's no full screen option and the difficulty curve does seem to be a little bit wonky, the first level is almost insultingly simple, yet stage three is more complicated than four and five, etc. Also, I'm not sure if joypads are supported yet, but with an XBox 360 version in the works I'd imagine that's a logical addition for the final.

With the final version planned to have scores of levels spread across six different areas, offline and online multiplayer options, cutscenes, a overworld map section and a level editor, I reckon it'll be well worth the budget price the developers are planning. There's no release date planned so far (possibly by the end of the year) but this is deifinitely one to keep an eye on.
With two players working together, Wyv & Keep is an absolute blast already and this is definitely an upcoming game to look out for.  Check the website for the soon-to-be-made public preview.
4 out of 5

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