I’m ashamed to admit it, but there was one game that slipped through the cracks this year due to all the shuffling surrounding the first lockdown (yep, we’re in another one): Rose & Locket. I first caught glimpse of it scrolling through Twitter and was absolutely dazzled. I even begged the developers to send us a message when they had a demo ready, even setting a reminder on my phone to poke them a month later in response to them promising to have one up in that timeframe. After that, it was radio silence on my end, which is pretty criminal considering how stunning Rose & Locket is. Today is the day — I’m here to make amends.
Currently being developed by New Zealand-based developer Whistling Wizard, Rose & Locket is described on its itch.io page as “an action-adventure journey set in the Wild West.” Available as a free alpha demo download, Rose & Locket’s demo has recently been updated to showcase all the hard work the developer has put in this year. With gorgeous visuals that give Samurai Jack vibes, full voice acting with the weight of a weary lifetime in their words, and incredibly fluid and satisfying gameplay, Rose & Locket is a definite must-play already and one special indie to keep a close eye on.
Players take on the role of Rose as she journeys to the Underworld to do the bidding of Envy, who may release her daughter’s soul from a mystical locket if Rose can claim enough bounties for the powerful spirit. Together, Rose and Locket crawl through the Underworld and destroy those who might cause them harm by shooting everything in sight, wild wild west style. Naturally, such a task doesn’t come without its secrets, a few of which Rose and Locket uncover unexpectedly. Will Rose free her daughter’s soul from the locket and escape unscathed?
Rose & Locket’s control scheme is simple and intuitive, and although the developer suggests using a controller as the best option, I’m happy to report that mouse and keyboard is entirely playable. I loved how the tutorial played out, as it individual moves were taught in between snippets of dialogue — short and sweet with a western vibe. Overall, the fluid controls match the fluidity of the look and feel of Rose & Locket, making for one fantastically smooth experience.
Let’s cut right to it — look at those glorious visuals. LOOK AT THEM! The first time I laid eyes on them I was immediately reminded of Samurai Jack and its cinematic comic book style. The colors and lighting are powerfully intense and evocative — as I traversed through the labyrinthine Underworld, I felt a lonely burden on my shoulders in a foreign place that was strongly conveyed through the visuals. If nothing else, please pay attention to Rose & Locket for its visuals alone (even though everything else is pretty stellar too).
The sound design featured in Rose & Locket is also phenomenal; the voice acting is perfectly cast, their voices really carrying the personalities of the individual characters. The OST is composed in house, its weighty, cinematic sound adding gravitas to the journey through the Underworld. It was certainly a challenge to try to match the glorious visuals, but the audio absolutely rose to the occasion.
The only real complaint I have thus far (other than wishing the demo had been slightly longer because it was so good) is that I noticed some typos in the subtitles. And if that’s the only issue spotted, it’s safe to say we’re in for a hell of a game when Rose & Locket finally releases. Please don’t sleep on this one — the demo is a 15 – 20 minute experience and totally free, so there’s really no reason not to give it a shot. Seriously, gun it to Rose & Locket — check it out on itch.io today!