Keyboard Sports Preview: Precise Button Mashing
Greg Johnson / Sep 12th, 2017 No Comments
The keyboard is dying in terms of gaming, but Keyboard Sports – Saving Qwerty is doing its part to stand up for the precision of keyboard. Keyboard Sports uses the middle section of the keyboard and nothing else — no mouse, and certainly no controller support.
What I got to play at PAX West 2017 was a preview build of the game, and what I saw was incredibly unique.
Gameplay in Keyboard Sports is straightforward, but far from simple. The game is made up of different challenges and mini-games, and the playing grid is the QWERTY portion of your keyboard. Tilde, backspace and the control keys make up the corners of the playing surface.
As you play the game, the surface of the level depicts a keyboard-like outline. The objective is to defeat the game’s challenges and mini-games by moving your character past objects and obstacles on screen. When players touch a key, the in-game character moves in a straight line toward that key. Hitting other keys will immediately reroute the character.
This sounds easy, but it can be a challenge to keep track of the action on screen and press the right button on the keyboard to avoid failure. The game doesn’t care what letter you press — it’s challenges are based on finding the right position to be in at the right time — but your brain might, so you may fight with yourself as you scramble to press the key that corresponds to the area where you want to move your character.
I joked with that developers that playing the game with a keyboard from their home country of Denmark could be a way to add a harder difficulty to the game. They laughed and noted that they went through hundreds of keyboards to make sure Keyboard Sports functioned properly in various countries.
In fact, one of the more impressive features of the game is the ability to use backlit keyboards in an engaging way. The game is programmed to light up certain keys when players can press them. As I was facing the challenge of crossing a river of lava as rocks fell and rose back up, I realized that I could mash the buttons as they lit up in order to time my moves. This way many challenges could be played without even looking at the screen, but the colorful visuals and surreal art style was hard to be drawn away from.
Who is Qwerty?
The unique gameplay is the focus of Keyboard Sports, but there is an interesting plotline tying levels together. The titular Qwerty is a master of the keyboard and your guide in the game. He teaches you the controls of Keyboard Sports and ultimately trains you to master the core gameplay.
The writing is bizarre and hilarious. The portion of the game that I played felt like an LSD fever dream version of the Karate Kid training montage. During this section of the game, Qwerty has players drink laced tea (conveniently found on the T key) then skiing, cleaning his trophy room, and performing other strange tasks.
Developers told me they wanted Keyboard Sports to keep players on their toes, so the challenges you face won’t last particularly long and there is a rapid change of pace between them. Yet, many of the mini-games that I played through stood strong on their own.
The Final Keystroke
My experience with Keyboard Sports revealed a game that is intensely fun and unique. It is difficult to make a game that is unlike anything you’ve ever played before at this point, but Keyboard Sports is exactly that.
The game is set to release early 2018 for PC, Mac and Linux.
tags: Keyboard Sports , Keyboard Sports - Saving Qwerty , Keyboard Sports Preview , PAX , PAX West 2017 , preview