Wyv and Keep: The Temple of The Lost Idol

A game by A Jolly Corpse for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2013.
Wyv and Keep is a game about two adventurers who are exploring the Amazonian jungle in search of an ancient treasure-filled temple. Now, that could be the basic description for dozens of different games, but the twist here is that both of the characters are playable simultaneously, either by one or two players, which allows for team-based puzzle-solving similar to the Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage titles.

The game stars Wyv, the male protagonist, and his blonde female cohort Keep as they dodge obstacles, push blocks, and assist each other to navigate the environments and collect treasure.

The primary gameplay in Wyv and Keep comes from manipulating the boxes in each level in order to provide walkways, block projectiles, and activate switches. And while platforming prowess is definitely essential to the player’s survival, proper box movement is the only way you’ll make it through each of the game’s 54 single-screen levels. As such, the game is primarily a puzzler. Attempting to rush through a level with your platforming skills alone will quickly find you stuck and unable to continue; careful planning and strategy are ultimately required for success.

With two players, gameplay occurs simultaneously with each player controlling one of the characters via local or online co-op. A single player is free to move both characters simultaneously if he so desires (and provided he has the ambidexterity to accomplish such a feat), or he may opt to move one character at a time and alternate between them.

Cooperation is the fundamental means by which puzzles are solved. In almost all cases, you must have your second character positioned correctly in order to assist the first to reach a particular goal. This can mean standing in a gap to prevent a box from getting stuck, providing a stepping stone to allow the other character reach a higher area, or positioning a box in an area that the other character cannot reach. Each level – in fact, nearly all individual actions – must be tackled with a mind toward the use of both characters.

If one of the characters is killed, the other will humorously drop to his/her knees and emit a deluge of tears, and the level will restart. Only one character is required to make it to the exit in order to progress to the next level, and a number of puzzles are built around working together until the last moment so that one of the adventurers can get to the exit door.

Most levels look deceptively simple at first glance, but after you make a few mistakes, you will begin to see the cleverness of the puzzles. A careful evaluation of the environment will reveal that a box pushed too early or dropped into the wrong spot will render it useless, forcing the player to restart the level. This generally results in very little lost gameplay, and therefore encourages players to experiment with puzzle solutions.

However, you are still being judged, and players will receive end-of-level rankings showing how much time it took to complete the level, the number of retries, and the amount of treasure collected. Each level has a par score, and beating par will reward you with a trophy, while doing poorly may result in a steaming pile of poo (with flies!). As such, you are also encouraged to find the most efficient solution to complete the level quickly and collect as much treasure as possible.

Players will need to avoid various hazards, such as drowning in water, burning in lava, getting impaled by spikes, or being shot by arrows. And players must protect the boxes as well. Boxes are great for blocking oncoming arrows and trapping enemies, but they’ll be crushed and destroyed by jutting spikes. Boxes dropped into the water will float to the surface, allowing you to walk safely across, but a box floating in the water cannot be moved, so you have to be sure that you’re ready to drop it before continuing.

Boxes cannot be pulled or picked up; they can only be pushed. So, you always need to be sure there’s enough room for your character to fit behind the box to shove it. Since switches cannot be activated by jumping on them, boxes are usually required to make it to the exit.

The game is presented with chunky sprite art, with a variety of animations that add charm to the game’s world and its characters. While the characters and enemies have free movement within the levels, the box-pushing elements are entirely grid-based, meaning that you’ll be pushing blocks one block-width at a time. This design ensures that players always know exactly how a box is going to react when pushed, and avoids situations where a player might misjudge a distance by a few pixels. In this way, the player cannot be undone by unpredictable physics or unclear limits on platform edges or box widths.

As the game continues, the player will be introduced to new types of enemies and environmental obstacles that require more careful consideration. For instance, some levels contain crumbling blocks that you can stand on, but each time you pass over the block or jump on it, it will wear down until it is eventually destroyed, thus making it a limited-use platform. Some platforms can be safely navigated by the player, but blocks will fall down through them. Here again, this is not necessarily meant as a trap, but rather a consideration when developing a strategy for completing the level.

One of the more advanced objects in the game is the dynamite bundle. When picked up, the fuse lights automatically. In most games, the goal would be to quickly carry the dynamite to requisite detonation area. But here, you must also consider that you have a second character that you must bring with you. When carrying a lit stick of dynamite, your first instinct may be to run forward as quickly as possible, but this is almost always a sure route to failure. Instead, you may need to pick up the dynamite and use it as a temporary stepping stone to allow both characters to progress further into the level. Of course, when dynamite is mixed with other elements such as moving enemies, crumbling platforms, and arrow-launching blocks, you will have to make an extra effort to not panic.

Wyv and Keep was the first game released by A Jolly Corpse.

The studio is comprised of developers who have worked on previous projects, notably those from Fallen Angel Industries, who created a number of freeware titles on the PC.

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