I’ll admit that I’ve not found myself particularly enamoured by titles like Overcooked, Tools Up, or Moving Out in the past. You know, games where you have to work together with other players and take on specific roles to get a task done under hectic circumstances. I understand the appeal, sure, but the high stress situations often left me in a faff as I tried to figure out how to multi-task and balance out my role perfectly… it just isn’t really my idea of fun. Despite this, I’ve found myself adoring KeyWe. Yes, it is co-op focused and each player will have their specific roles to play on each manic level, but the simple yet challenging gameplay kept me and my buddy laughing for hours as we made fine postal office workers out of our pair of cute little birdies.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
KeyWe’s concept is a simple one: players take on the role of two little Kiwis (named Debra and Jeff) that are tasked with looking after the post in a mail-sorting office, with a myriad of different little jobs needed to be completed in order to ensure that folk get their mail in a timely manner. These jobs are typical of a mail-sorting office in many ways, but the fact that they’re being performed by two dinky little birds does mean that they can become a bit more complicated to complete. They’ll also require Debra and Jeff to work together in synchronisation, with teamwork certainly making the dream work in this charming little world.
The gameplay loop of KeyWe is simple enough, with each player able to run, jump, and butt slam as their little Kiwi, with each level designed to be accessible but equally challenging with the tasks that it gives players. Sometimes you might be typing out messages to deliver, sometimes you’ll have to label and send packages, sometimes you’ll be sorting through mail with the help of an octopus, whilst other times you might be transcribing audio messages. There’s plenty on offer across the game that keeps your role both a varied and busy one, whilst additional challenges are introduced throughout each level to keep players on their toes.
“The jobs also require Debra and Jeff to work together in synchronisation, with teamwork certainly making the dream work in this charming little world.”
On paper, doing these jobs might not sound like a lot of fun, but the way in which they’re presented in-game made for a zany and enjoyable time. There’s a heavy emphasis placed on teamwork in just about everything you do; even something as simple as typing capital letters requires one player holding down the shift key as the other hits the relevant letter keys. You’ve got to be inventive in your approach at times too, especially when the game starts throwing additional hazards your way that make your job a lot more difficult – you’re always working to a time limit too, which means you’ve got to be extra efficient if you want to get those high scores. You might end up swearing a little, but it’s always with a smile on your face as you push forward to defy the odds against you.
Levels are all set across the different seasons of the year, with each changing up the aesthetic and also introducing the varying obstacles that come in your path. The setting of Bungalow Basin itself is manic too; the typewriter has keys randomly spread across the level, for example, whilst another time you might be swimming between objects in a flooded room. I’ve heard that mail-sorting offices can be chaotic places, but KeyWe has REALLY opened my eyes.
“There’s plenty on offer across the game that keeps your role both a varied and busy one, whilst additional challenges are introduced throughout each level to keep players on their toes.”
It all comes together to make for a wonderful co-op experience though, with the versatility of the tasks offered and the various obstacles brought with each season ensuring the game remains charming throughout. Whether it’s the frost freezing things up in Winter, Halloween bringing with it a spooky mist, or mayflies causing havoc in the Summer, there’s plenty to keep you on your toes. I’ve ploughed a ton of hours in so far and still find it a joy to play as Jeff and Debra as they look to keep everything in ship-shape through each unpredictable circumstance.
It’s been addictive going for those higher scores too, which is unusual for me because I’ve never been a score chaser in gaming – KeyWe is just that fun. Best of all, there are ‘Overtime’ levels to unlock, which bring with them more silly and fun tasks to complete outside of sorting mail. They utilise the game’s mechanics in some creative ways and offer a nice break of pace to your ‘day job’. They reward players with unlockables and customisation options too, so they’re certainly worth playing around with.
“The moments of glory, the moments of failure, and the arguments when you mess up the simplest of tasks – they’re the sort of things that are best enjoyed with another player.”
I should mention that KeyWe is playable in single player, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. Not only are the controls a little awkward to get used to when playing as both birds, but it makes the game lose that special feeling that playing co-op brings. The moments of glory, the moments of failure, and the arguments when you mess up the simplest of tasks – they’re the sort of things that are best enjoyed with another player.
And believe me, playing with a friend is special. Between the different tasks you’re assigned, the manic communications you have to share, and the outrageous fun of TRYING to work as a team, there’s so much to love about KeyWe as a multiplayer experience. It’s playable in both local play and online, so there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it with your nearby loved ones or besties living halfway across the world.
I never knew working in a mail-sorting office would be so chaotic and fun, but KeyWe proved it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to spend time with a friend. I had a great time sorting through the mail as one of the little Kiwis, with the anarchic tasks and ever-changing obstacles ensuring a big smile was kept on my face during my time playing. Whether you’re working together perfectly or having a bit of a nightmare, it just doesn’t stop being fun.
I wouldn’t recommend playing the game single player, but KeyWe easily stands out as one of the most enjoyable two-player co-op games I’ve played for some time.
Developer: Stonewheat & Sons
Publisher: Sold Out
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC