Keylocker is a Brazilian indie RPG that poses a mind-scrambling query: what if Daft Punk hadn’t just been the composers of Tron Legacy’s extraordinary soundtrack—what if they’d been the protagonists, far too?
That… would have been much better, suitable? I have a gentle spot for Tron Legacy many thanks to its slick reimagining of that ’80s within-the-laptop aesthetic—and Jeff Bridges declaring “bio-digital jazz, male“—but you have to admit the complete flick would’ve been enhanced by explicitly weaving that extraordinary soundtrack into the story. It took me about three seconds to nod an emphatic certainly to Keylocker’s premise: you play a punk rock character on a futuristic Saturn colony in which songs has been outlawed, so in a natural way you use a guitar to rebel and mess shit up.
It really is been a dry ten years for stories that choose position inside of computer systems. We preserve enjoying game titles on our personal computers, but it can be just not the similar. Now 2023 is shaping up to be a banger, thanks to Keylocker and Capcom’s revival of Mega Man Fight Network, which really feel like flip sides of the exact aesthetic. If Struggle Network is a little bit cyberpunk by way of Kidz Bop, Keylocker is extra cyberpunk by way of the Hotline Miami soundtrack.
The demo, which I played at Brazil’s global video game pageant (nevertheless it really is also offered on Steam) experienced me breaking out of a prison wherever I would been locked up for tunes crimes, applying rhythm match-like inputs to set off actions in battle. I’m fibbing with my premise a tiny in this article due to the fact it truly is not technically established inside a electronic laptop world like MMBN or Tron, but the aesthetic is a in the vicinity of-fantastic match. I guess futuristic Saturn prisons are additional or a lot less indistinguishable from personal computer worlds.
According to the story synopsis on Steam, the main thrust of Keylocker’s musical rebellion tale is protagonist B0B0 looking for a drummer. But you know how it is when your authoritarian modern society has entirely banned audio and thrown you in jail: you won’t be able to precisely go close to placing up band flyers. It really is a humorous twist on the common JRPG preserve the earth plot that I hope speaks to an abundance of personality through Keylocker.
I did not get to see a great deal of that story—I expended my 40 minutes or so mainly having to grips with the fight procedure, which is not quickly intuitive. The switch-dependent battles consider place on a grid (so assault assortment components in) and the system is clearly riffing on the Mario RPGs with timing-based mostly attacks and blocks. Faucet a button when you happen to be about to land a strike to deal far more damage, or faucet when an enemy’s about to hit you to negate a superior chunk of it. I observed the timing tough: in some instances I felt like I needed a much better perception of when to faucet for my own attacks, but I also appreciated that enemy assault animations ended up varied and tough to ‘read.’
In addition to a health and fitness gauge, each and every character has an electric powered gauge, which I would fill by pulling out my guitar and shredding on a rapid rhythm game-esque sequence of button instructions. The electric powered gauge doubles as a shield to take up specific attacks and a meter to electrical power up attacks. It can be not promptly obvious how finest to use it, and Keylocker’s demo is a little bit too mild on the tutorializing, but I did commence to get a come to feel for what I was undertaking just after fifty percent a dozen fights. I could drain the bar to cost up a killer guitar slam, but undertaking that still left my life gauge open up to the future hit.
Even if Keylocker finishes up being reasonably small by RPG criteria, I barely obtained started—my demo time ended before I’d even broken out of jail. What I played continue to desired some polish battles could be snappier, and the prison’s environmental audio results are so properly grating that I genuinely did not want to invest any far more time listening to them. But it truly is very likely still a 12 months absent from release, plenty of time to perform on all those things.
I hope it life up to the premise, mainly because this sci-fi rock-band-defeats-fascism plot just feels quite correct for this minute in time.
I’m glad to dwell in the period of indie RPG developers iterating on the systems of games they grew up with. Some lean way too intensely on their inspirations, but Keylocker evidently has its possess type and is remixing some aged ideas into something new. Even the opening experienced me curious—you can pick amongst three character classes, which not only impact your attacks but consider you down branching tale paths. It was thrilling understanding from the jump that my selection carried real fat.
And at the incredibly the very least, I’m psyched to see a cyberpunk sport that absolutely embraces basically getting punk.