By – Thomas Faust

Wyv and Keep Review

Wyv and Keep: The Temple of the Lost Idol follows two intrepid adventurers on a tomb raiding trip somewhere in South America.  Keep’s the clever one, a lady with the plan. Wyv… he means well, I’m sure.  Keep tries to maintain an air of professionalism, which is only hindered by her indignation with cannibals, poisonous snakes, and whatever else the jungle throws at the duo. Wyv, on the other hand, is a lovable oaf who fails to take even the gravest of circumstances seriously. This makes for some great banter, which delivers its punchlines just right and keeps the game engaging. Wyv and Keep are interesting and likeable – I could very well imagine the franchise as a Saturday morning cartoon.

Following the trail of an earlier expedition leads them deep into the jungle, where fame and fortune are supposedly waiting. Unfortunately, Wyv forgot to pack most of the duo’s equipment, so the only thing saving you from certain doom at the hands of perfidious pygmies or grisly death traps is your own sharp wits.  A Jolly Corpse’s latest creation is aesthetically riffing on Spelunky and La-Mulana as well as other games of the 16-bit era.  It does, however, play more like classical puzzle games such as The Lost Vikings or even Sokoban.

Each of the 60 levels requires you to perform the most adventurous act of pushing a crate onto a pressure plate in order to open the end-of-level gate.  There are only so many ways to push a crate, and the duo’s ability of otherwise interacting with their environment is rather limited.  However, the level design manages to work around these limitations. Every level feels different and it never seems like the game is repeatedly throwing the same puzzles at you.  In fact, using some elements in unusual ways is one of the more unique and satisfying features of Wyv and Keep.

Wyv and Keep Review

For instance, in order to reach a high ledge you might have pick up (and light) a stick of dynamite with one character and use it as a stepping stone for the other one, preferably before it blows you to smithereens.  This might not sound too impressive, but since dynamite is only ever used to clear obstacles before that particular puzzle, it does require some thinking outside of the box.  Such solutions keep the gameplay from becoming stale, and figuring them out makes you feel incredibly clever.

Generally, the game’s focus is more on the puzzles and not on the platforming.  Nevertheless, there are situations where well-timed maneuvering is needed.  This brings us to the way Wyv and Keep can be played.  It allows for single player puzzling – with you being able to switch between characters at will – as well as local and online co-op, which make the few twitchy jumping parts a lot easier.  The latter option is good fun and has no latency issues, but it suffers from the occasional random crash.  There are reports of more serious problems, such as online multiplayer not working at all, but I didn’t encounter any of those.

While the integrated (typed) chat function works well, having some sort of voice chat software running in the background is much more comfortable and comes highly recommended.  In the later, complex levels, cooperation and timing is key, so you don’t want to be impaired by typing instructions every other step of the way.  Your single player progress transfers to the online co-op and vice versa so you don’t have to restart the game from scratch when playing with someone else.  This is definitely quite handy when you’re stuck and need some outside help.

Wyv and Keep Review

Wyv and Keep is not an easy game.  In fact, it gets tricky rather fast, and when you’re stuck on a level, your progress grinds to a halt with no other way to proceed.  Some level skip tokens would have been nice to have, but Wyv probably forgot to pack those as well.  It’ll take you a while to get through the campaign, and the game gets a certain amount of replay value through the addition of hats.  Yes indeed, there is a hat salesman in the jungle, selling off the various pieces of headgear that adventurers less fortunate than your brave heroes have dropped.  To buy them, you need perfect scores on previous levels, which means you basically have to speedrun those without dying while collecting a fair amount of treasure to boot.  That should keep you busy for quite some time.  Having no online leaderboards seems like a missed opportunity, since the game is basically forcing you to be the hardest, fastest, and richest treasure hunter on the block, anyway.

If that’s still not enough for you, there is a highly flexible level editor.  It is pretty easy, even fun, to use and allows for importing your own sprites and backgrounds into the game.  The only drawback is that you have to manually share those levels with other players.  A Jolly Corpse’s forums function as a hub to share user-made content.  But this is just a small inconvenience, and it won’t keep the truly dedicated players from creating some devious new levels.  Sadly, it is currently not possible to play those custom levels online – you’ll have to do it by yourself or with a co-op buddy sitting right next to you.

Wyv and Keep Review

 Conclusion – Is It Worth The Money?

A copy of Wyv and Keep will cost you $9.99 and the Team Pack Edition, which includes an additional copy for instant online co-op goodness, is available for $14.99.  I daresay it’s more than worth your money if you like challenging puzzle games.  Even though the game is still a little rough around the edges when it comes to the online portion, the levels themselves are incredibly well-designed and offer enough brain-twisting puzzles to keep you entertained.  And let’s not forget the utterly charming presentation.  Wyv and Keep’s constant bickering never ceases to entertain.  Much like a certain trio of Lost Vikings, our would-be treasure hunters are characters you will remember fondly long after the credits rolled.

Wyv and Keep Technical Summary:

  • Time Played – 6 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1366×768
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Control Scheme – Keyboard, Gamepad
  • DRM – None
  • System Specs – i3-2350M@2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, Geforce GT 630M 2GB
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Official Site, GamersGate, Desura
  • Demo – Yes
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – A few crashes in online co-op
  • Saved Game Location – Installs into the main game directory.
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