The brilliance of games like Overcooked 2 and Moving Out is in their ability to take otherwise fairly straightforward and ordinary tasks and turn them into something far more exciting and with an interesting emphasis on teamwork. Cooking a burger for example – I think we can all agree – hardly requires much more thinking than, cook the patty and place it between two buns. In Overcooked 2, however, as you find yourselves hopping between moving trucks, dashing to cutting and cooking stations scattered in the most unhelpful of places or even slipping your way across ice, these simple errands suddenly become far more difficult and chaotic.
KeyWe is very much another one of those types of games, placing a firm emphasis on teamwork and keeping calm under high-pressure situations. KeyWe sees one or two players take on the role of Jeff and Debra, two kiwi birds who have just started their new jobs at the Bungalow Basin Telepost Office. It’s hard to deny the cuteness of the two, especially as you watch them hop around a human-sized working environment picking up things with their beaks. After a brief tutorial that sees you learning the basic movements of Jeff and Debra, it’s then off to take on your first proper assignment.
These tasks tend to fall into one of four different types. You’ll either be typing messages on a telegraph machine, labelling and sending off crates, piecing together sentences with stickers or sorting and sending out customer’s mail. Of course, none of these are as simple as they initially sound, the typing of messages, for example, done by running and hopping around an office and butt stomping on keys littered everywhere. Building sentences with stickers meanwhile is made tougher thanks to, once again, these stickers being scattered all about the place with some even on moving objects. Each offers something unique, some even requiring a number of varying steps to be taken before completion. Sending out crates for example involves typing the correct four-digit location code, slapping any stickers on (if it contains something heavy, fragile or perishable), carrying a lid over to the crate with a crane and then finally sending it off to the right place.
Spread out across three seasons (starting in the blazing heat of the summer and ending during the snowy months of winter), tasks will quickly see new twists added that prove a chaotic mixture of frustration, hilarity and challenge. In one modified task, sand fills the warehouse floor causing the kiwis to sink when walked on while a number of others see bugs flying around that block the visibility of vital information and even move things about (rather annoyingly). These curveballs help keep KeyWe fresh and engaging whilst disguising the fact you’re still at the end of the day performing the same handful of tasks.
Your performance is often based on how quickly you can finish the task, stamps awarded for bronze, silver and gold times. These stamps can then be traded in for cosmetics for your kiwi including hats, backpacks and even different feather patterns. Have you ever wondered what a kiwi might look like with clown fish-coloured feathers? Thanks to KeyWe you no longer need to.
Along with the time-based tasks, you’ll also unlock additional overtime challenges that offer something a little different like testing bubble wrap or slapping the correct stickers on packages moving along a fast-moving conveyor belt. With a focus on score instead of time, these challenges prove just as engaging as the main tasks themselves.
While the game allows for one person to control both kiwis (either switching between the two or controlling both together), neither prove particularly effective resulting in a far more cumbersome experience. Unsurprisingly, KeyWe sings as a two-player game and if you lack the means to get another person involved, this may not be the game for you.
Moving Jeff and Debra around the increasingly cluttered environments is fairly easy to get to grips with, both my wife and I picking things up after only a few rounds. Getting a sense of your kiwi’s placement too rarely causes issues either and tutorials for any new elements are both clear and helpful. That being said, there are frustrating moments to be found especially when it comes to performing more deliberate movements. We came across instances where boxes would get stuck when trying to push or pull them along while trying to butt slam down on keys often in close proximity to one another – as you can imagine – lead to a number of wrong letters being entered in. Are they experience ruining? Not at all, but for a game so focused on doing things quickly, these niggles can make reaching that elusive gold medal more trouble than it should be.
KeyWe radiates such a charming and welcoming vibe. The music is upbeat and easy on the ears while the kiwis themselves never fail to raise a smile or an “aww” as they dart about the place. The visuals overall are bright and colourful with the action running relatively smooth throughout. Due to the quantity of small buttons, levers and other items you’ll be scanning your eyes across, this is very much a game that suits the bigger screen of a television than the smaller one on the Nintendo Switch.
KeyWe successfully takes the fairly mundane environment of a telepost office and turns it into something fun and exciting. By injecting plenty of surprises, silliness and satisfying puzzles KeyWe is a real joy through all three of its seasons just so long as you have a second kiwi by your side.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Sold Out