By Crystal Colwell / March 4th, 2015
|Release Date||September 29, 2014|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG|
Tiny Keep is a randomly-generated RPG that features permadeath. As I stated in my preview, dead means dead! I’ve not had a lot of experience with permadeath, so I didn’t really know how I would feel about that. It sucks, but it does make you try a little harder to stay alive. I’d probably be more upset had I formed any sort of attachment to my character, but I was pretty sure I would kill her off rather quickly. Ahh well.
The official site says that you will “.. embrace the role of a hopeless prisoner…” I’m not so sure you are hopeless, but the people trapped there with you sure are. Idiots! All of them! Anyhow, your cell door is ajar, so freedom seems like the obvious choice. Take off with your lantern, read a letter left behind and trudge off into the darkness. Or don’t. Seriously. Stay there and take your chances. You are better off! What? You want the sweet release of being free? More like the sweet release of death.
You start out creating a character, which offers a decent amount of customization. I could be a girl, so I was happy! Next, you begin the game and are dropped into a dungeon. The first thing you need to do is search for a weapon! You won’t make it very long without one. Avoid any enemies you see until you find something to attack them with. You can also find shields that help you block a bit if you remember to use them. I kept forgetting.
Do yourself a favor and use a controller to play this game. The controls using the keyboard annoyed me about .5 seconds in. It was either have a major fit and bitch through the whole game or grab a controller. Controller it was! With a controller, things work rather well. The right stick will control the camera, while the left lets you move. You can sprint with L1, Start will pause, of course. R1 and R2 allow you to attack, which you will want to do, as the enemies in the dungeons are brutal jerks who will surely laugh as they chop you to bits. You do need to be looking at whatever you want to attack. Nothing seems to auto-focus onto the enemy or anything.
The music for Tiny Keep is quite epic. Right from the start, the battle themes make you think you are about to enter a world of pain and suffering, never knowing what might be around the next corner. There is a hint of playfulness that is just… mean, as it makes me think of all the traps. The music that plays as your next dungeon is generated, were you so lucky to actually complete one level and move to the next, is the thing nightmares are made of. Seriously. If my nightmares had a soundtrack, this would be it! You definitely have to hear this music to appreciate it.
There are all sorts of gritty noises to be heard as you play. Doors creaking open, people bitching that they need saved and etc. My absolute favorite noise in Tiny Keep are the cries that the enemies make as you shank them. Glorious! It definitely brings out the more sadistic side of me. I sat playing the game for hours, bouncing up and down in my seat like an excited child, as enemy after enemy fell to my blade.
The look of this title is as grim as it should be, but in an almost cartoony way. It’s an odd combination, but it works very well. Every detail was well thought-out and really makes you feel as if you are stuck in this grim and gothic dungeon with no way of knowing what lies around each corner.
There are bursts of color found on some enemies, in jewels in the doors and the many fires, which really helps make the graphics pop. This is nice to have in such a dark world. It added to the overall gameplay experience, where, sometimes, a nice, bright color can give you hope, especially in a world where pretty much everything wants to kill you. Even some of the prisoners you try to help are wacked out and try to take you down. Should have left them in the damn cell, for sure.
If you are ever locked in a dungeon, do not, I repeat, do not call me! Sure, I’ll try to save you, but, likely, we will just both die a gruesome death, and who needs that? Die on your own or call someone who is better at saving people than I am. I can get through the levels, but, more often than not, the people I rescued (or tried to rescue) are going to become cannon fodder. Poor suckers.
The map fills in as you explore the dungeon, which I love. I am definitely a fan of this, as I hate backtracking and never remember where I have already been — especially in such a dark world. There are different things littered around the world that are lit up, and kind of look like tiny pools of magical something or other, where you can spend your in-game cash. You will get some cool upgrades. These can be found at the ends of each level, as well as throughout the dungeons. The cost varies, and you don’t know what you will get until you purchase them.
Your health can be refilled by picking up food and potions that are laying around the dungeon. This will come in handy as enemies kick your ass, or you kick your own by falling prey to the traps found everywhere. The traps are grand, as they can, of course, hurt you, but they hurt your enemies, as well. Knock someone into a trap on the floor and watch as spikes stick through their body! Knock over some fire and watch as they catch fire. Just stay away from them or you too will die a charred death.
I told you you should have stayed in your cell. Traps, enemies and fires, oh my! If the point to this game was have a lot of fun, kill some things and jump with joy each time an enemy died and went BLEGH, then Tiny Keep was a success! Well, I was a success. If the point was to save the jerks locked in the dungeon with you and emerge a hero… let’s just say I was less successful. Regardless if you save the unworthy dungeon people or just have a lot of fun, Tiny Keep is definitely worth the $14.99 price tag. I have played 20-30 hours and will continue to enjoy this title.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Digital TribePhigamesTiny Keep