Wyv and Keep follows the adventures of the two eponymous treasure hunters as they venture into the jungles of Amazonia seeking, of course, a legendary fortune hidden within a mysterious temple. After a brief intro where the characters’ personalities are established (Wyv is a bit of care-free jokester while Keep plays more of the straight woman), you’re tossed right into the action with a quick intro level. This not only introduces you to the gameplay basics but to the third, though not seen, character: Dr. Arthur P. Circumstance. Throughout many of the game’s levels you’ll find journal pages left behind by the good doctor that explain some new element and add a little more story and intrigue to Wyv and Keep’s expedition.
Each level of Wyv and Keep presents a seemingly simply goal within the narrow confines of a single room: reach the exit. If you’re able to grab all the coins and other loot scattered about, so much the better, but just like in real life, it doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t get make a clean getaway. As you progress further and further into the wilds of Amazonia and, eventually, the temple, the challenges Wyv and Keep must overcome in order to reach the exit become more and more mind-bending. You may come up with a solution that seems obvious only to discover halfway through that there’s no way that could possibly work. Well, back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, there’s a handy “retry” feature from the pause screen so you can get right back to it without too much delay. While Wyv and Keep’s challenges can be a bit of a head scratcher, they are just the right kind of enigmatic quandaries that lead you to walk away from a bit and then have a sudden, “Oh! I get it now!” Before you know it, you’ll be rushing back to your computer to try it out and see if your new solution will work it. If it does, well, there’s the next puzzle to solve, so maybe just one more… What?! That seemed really easy. Ok, well maybe the next one…
Aside from the addictive nature of its puzzles, one of Wyv and Keep’s best features is the cooperative gameplay. In fact, even when you’re playing the game solo, you’re still forced to think in a cooperative fashion. In order to guide Wyv and Keep to the goal, you’ll frequently have to swap back and forth between the two treasure seekers – using one as a jumping platform for the other to reach new heights here; keeping a box from falling down a hole there. Wyv and Keep need to work together, despite their antagonistic banter, if they ever hope to find that missing idol. Fortunately, this is where two heads can work better than one.
If you’ve got a local co-op gaming partner handy, he or she is free to hop in and out of the game using the keyboard or a gaming pad in order to assume the role of the other playfully opposed duo. Both players can also use the same keyboard, with one using the W-A-S-D keys and the other using the traditional arrow keys for movement. As with many co-op games, communication between your partner and you is important as pushing a box the wrong way or at the wrong moment potentially leads to a player death, but more likely a level restart. So despite the ticking clock’s keeping track of how long it takes you to solve the level, take your time the first go around; once you’ve got it worked out, you can always come back to the level to get a faster time.
Should a local gaming friend not be readily available, it is possible to go online with the co-op, though this feature is still in development and I was only able to get a brief glimpse of it where players could meet up in a lobby and search for games. According to the developers, A Jolly Corpse, there currently aren't plans to implement a voice chat feature, so players will need to rely upon 3rd party voice chat software, but there will be a chat feature so players can type in-game. LAN currently isn't an option either, though this is another feature A Jolly Corpse will be review based on demand and some other features that are in the works.
The game is currently in the “alpha” phase of development as some features, like the stability of the online co-op mode, are still getting worked out while others just need a little polishing/tightening up, such as the level editor that allows you to create and share your own twisted levels. From what I’ve played so far, though, I am definitely eager to see the final product. As LeVar Burton used to say, though, “You don’t have to take my word for it.” A Jolly Corpse has posted a ten-level demo up on the website so you can try it out, or you can pre-order the game for just $7.99 and get access to the alpha and betas, as well as the game’s charming soundtrack. A great deal for that price, considering you also have the opportunity to provide some feedback directly to the game developers about ways to improve features and make the game even better!
Wyv and Keep is currently slated for a Summer 2012 for the PC, with Mac/LINUX builds and, hopefully XBLA, builds not far behind.