Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Developer: Moonana


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Preview - 'Keylocker'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 5, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Inspired by the Mario & Luigi RPG series and Chrono Trigger, Keylocker is a cyberpunk, turn-based rhythm JRPG in which you play as the singer and songwriter, Bobo.

Cyberpunk is a popular setting, especially for those looking to satisfy their techno urges in case Cyberpunk 2077 didn't do the trick. RPGs also feel like a good fit for the genre, as proven by the aforementioned game and Shadowrun. What does a developer do to get noticed in a crowded field? Keylocker explores that conundrum.

In the world of Saturn, you play the role of Bobo. Gifted with the ability to sing, her talent is more of a curse, since music has been prohibited. She's freed from her prison by those sympathetic to her cause, and she makes it a point to fight back against her oppressors to make music legal again.

After a fairly lengthy intro, you choose one of four classes, each with different offensive and defensive maneuvers. Samurai have a basic guitar attack but can also rely on counters to stay fighting. Hackers have a basic slash but can use an electronic fist to punch foes two tiles away. Juggernauts have the power of a counterattack along with a rhythm-based attack, while Sequencers use rhythm to power up their electricity so that all of their counters are extremely effective. Each of the play styles is wildly different, so switching between them feels like you need to relearn the game.

Aside from their different abilities, each class follows a different story path. The overall storyline is the same, but the major rooms have completely different layouts. The same goes for characters, as no one you meet ever crosses into another class' storyline. While the overall tale may end the same way, the journey feels distinct.

One strength about the gameplay is that there are no random encounters. All enemies are visible on-screen at all times, and you know exactly when you'll get into a fight. Random encounters may be gone, but enemy movements are fast enough, so fights are all but inevitable. It's possible to get away unscathed with no fighting involved.

The combat system follows the basics from any turn-based RPG, but the menu's hex system isn't immediately intuitive. Aside from the different attacks and defensive moves that aim for either electricity or life, almost everything here is timing-based. Whether you're parrying an attack, countering, or attacking, you need to actively hit the button at the right window to get a perfect hit. If you don't, you settle for inflicting less damage or taking more damage yourself. The game has some leeway in terms of how far you can miss, as you aren't required to make one-hit kills, but at least the timing can be practiced to make it second nature to hit perfect marks.

If you're playing on the Steam Deck, the game runs beautifully there. There aren't many graphical options to change, if at all, but the game still manages to run smoothly with no hiccups during the many rhythm sections. The battery life averages 4-5 hours. Except for the resolution, it looks identical to a fully maxed-out desktop running the game.

Keylocker has potential. The different classes and story pathways ensure some replayability for completionists, while also providing a distinct experience to those who only play through games once. The combat system takes some real getting used to because it introduces precision for attacks and defensive maneuvers but, it also adds something that few RPGs ever work with. Hopefully we can see more of the game before its eventual nebulous release date.

More articles about Keylocker
blog comments powered by Disqus