Keylocker Impressions – Check Out My Melody
There are times where you just gotta face the world and shout, “Screw it, it’s time to rock!” Developed by Moonana, Keylocker tells the story of BOBO, a female doppelganger born into the lower castes of Saturn. In this futuristic cyberpunk setting, draconian law is supreme, and even simple commodities such as electricity are fully commanded by the government. But BOBO isn’t going to take that. Instead, she wants to rebel against corruption in the only way she knows how–with the power of music.
I have to talk about the art first because I was immensely impressed by the colorful and vibrant pixel art graphics. There’s so much detail to the character designs, and the aesthetic itself is quite appealing to the eye. The heavily saturated colors make the world pop while maintaining a surreal, space-like quality. Yet, despite the immense amount of detail, it’s not overbearing. I found myself encapsulated in the presentation as my eyes darted around each area, stimulated with glee.
As BOBO, you start your story entrapped in prison, where you’re shown an advertisement that offers transparent handcuffs for purchase in an attempt to capitalize on the idea of freedom. The game does a great job of setting the tone for how tyrannical the Saturnian government is. However, within moments, you get help from a distraction that allows you to sneak out of your cell and find your way out of prison. As you make your escape, you get introduced to the gameplay mechanics, as Keylocker is a turn-based JRPG with rhythm elements woven within.
The tactical combat is simple in concept, but don’t get fooled; it can be quite tricky to get used to. To excel in combat effectively, you must time the execution of your button presses with your attacks, counters, and blocks. Depending on the moves you choose, your attacks may drain an enemy’s health or their energy points, known as electric points. You’re trying to fight with music, so the power of electricity is in your hands.
Also, the enemies aren’t that simple either. Depending on the difficulty you choose, they can successfully figure out ways to counter your attacks and prepare devastating blows on their own. As combat takes place on a small grid-like system, they can also maneuver themselves to be in a better position to attack or defend. I’ll admit, I died numerous times trying to get the hang of things. Luckily, the game is forgiving in that you can restart the battle, so it becomes rewarding to figure out how to take down a group of enemies.
This is also a good point to mention that your experience of combat may differ depending on the class you choose. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, such as the Samurai class specializing in defensive counters or the Juggernaut class having an emphasis on heavy attacks. Not only do the classes affect the combat, but they also affect the story, meaning you can have completely different interactions with characters as a Sequencer versus a Hacker.
The story itself is intriguing and chock-full of details, even to the minutest of things. You can interact with nearly everything, even pieces of worn-down equipment scattered throughout the area. As BOBO, you’re trying to not only rebel against the oppressive system of the Saturnian government but also find the deeper meaning behind the essence of music.
Along the way, you meet quirky characters like the “Save Dinosaur” that just pops up at random moments. You’ll even get a couple of partners to join you in your journey, such as the lovable Jukebox-robot, Rocket. The dialogue is fun to read and provides plenty of personality to each character and the world itself. There will even be random references thrown in that just adds to the eccentricity of the title.
If that doesn’t catch your attention, the soundtrack is full of energy. I couldn’t help but take the music in and bob my head as I was fighting enemies or traversing the landscape. There’s a lot of life and enjoyment that Keylocker has to offer. This was only a demo, and I already felt like I had a great gameplay experience. I can easily say that Keylocker is a title that everyone should keep an eye and ear out for.
Feel free to check out the demo on Steam. Keylocker has also launched a Kickstarter to fund development and release.
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