Review: KeyWe (Nintendo Switch)

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Ever since Overcooked, I’ve noticed a ton more co-op games on the market; some blatant Overcooked clones with a change of setting, and others trying something a bit different. KeyWe feels somewhere in the middle to me, trying a few things out while not straying too far from the formula. How is it?

KeyWe has you (and perhaps a friend) playing as Jeff and Debra: two Kiwi postal workers. You’ll be working together to do tasks in 36 different levels, along with nine other ‘overtime’ levels that aren’t mandatory for level progression and feel more like minigames. Throughout your game, you’ll gain cosmetic items (a good variety to choose from) that you can use to dress up your kiwis.

The main levels get divided into four different types, whose concepts repeat with twists and difficulty increases as you progress. For instance, one type involves typing out messages. While it works mostly normally (as the first level of its kind), later ones have keys swap positions occasionally. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of thing, as I find it typically yields mixed results, and in KeyWe’s case, it is mixed. Some levels have fun twists, and others just feel annoying.

While the graphics and sound are good enough here, the performance feels subpar. There’s nothing here that I’d think the Switch couldn’t handle, yet it runs rather choppy. The Kiwi’s models also tend to clip into objects rather frequently. I’m usually fine enough with character clipping (I’ve played enough old 3D games to get used to it). But it causes a lot of confusion here, especially when trying to navigate quickly. Characters also tend to get stuck on level geometry pretty frequently, leading to lots of annoyance.

Playing locally with a friend was fun despite these issues, though. Levels make good use of cooperation. While some are annoying, the ones that aren’t prove to be a good time. You’re ranked from bronze to gold on each level’s completion time, and for goodness sakes getting gold is difficult! You and your buddy will need to be playing at peak performance and cooperation to get gold.

I was pretty happy to see that online play was an option, but there’s a lot of issues that go with it. While levels themselves never lagged, inputs were noticeably delayed. In a game like this, that is really frustrating. Some levels also weren’t playing properly, leading to numerous soft locks. While the vast majority of the game is playable online, I had to quit and go into single-player to beat a couple of levels that kept softlocking just so we could progress. Patches are needed.

Playing in single-player worked better than I expected. Level timers are much more lenient, and there are two control options available for using both kiwis. It isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as playing with a friend locally, and I’d have a hard time recommending the game if you’re planning on going it solo.

Overall, I did enjoy KeyWe, but it has some issues. Levels are a mixed bag, and there are some problems controlling the kiwis. I can’t recommend buying the game for online play. But, if you have someone to play with locally, you could find yourself having a decently good time.

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