Review: Pocket Gamer

A great tutoring tool under the guise of an rpg

Over the years we’ve seen RPGs dip into various wild and wonderful settings, drum up intriguing mechanics, and surprise us with interesting stories. However, Keys & Kingdoms is the first RPG which also happens to teach you how to play the piano.

Yeah, that’s quite a strange concept really: tying music tutoring into a traditionally numbers-based genre.

You might be surprised to hear that it actually works very well, especially in its combat which, in the early game has you learning notes through relativity and repetition before you move onto more difficult scenarios.

It all revolves around the story of Harmonia, a storybook world suddenly filled with evil beings. You play as a child who has just been dropped into the world, and you are then guided on your quest to defeat baddies and save the good folk of the kingdom.

Keys & Kingdoms certainly won’t win any awards for being the prettiest RPG out there, or indeed for having the most novel story, but both of these are really there as a delivery method for the core of the game – piano tutoring.

As a tutoring product, it’s actually exceptional. Every element of the game revolves around the use of the keyboard input, from movement through to combat – and this serves to very quickly familiarize players with the layout of the instrument.

While the absence of an in-situ tutor means that you might deliver some lazy habits early on, by the time you are past the first hour or so it is almost impossible to not fall into line with traditional two-handed play.

On PC/Mac you can use your normal keyboard, while on iOS you can use an onscreen UI, but it really all comes together when you use an actual instrument. For this, the developers recommend the XKey Keyboard, which is a small but durable electronic keyboard which you can use a USB cable to interface with your preferred platform.

It’s tactile, immediately responsive, and the spacing is (naturally) relative to that of a standard keyboard…

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