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Rose And Locket Is A Slick Action-Adventure Title With A Killer Comic Style

The sins of the mother

It dawned on me just how taken with Rose and Locket I was as I guided other members of the WellPlayed crew over to the game’s booth at PAX Australia last year. Having just played the demo for developer Whistling Wizard’s latest, I knew I needed to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. A side-scrolling action-adventure title would already sit firmly in my wheelhouse, but the supernatural Wild West setting and comic book stylings cemented it as my game of show. Months later and I’ve gone hands-on with the demo again, this time away from the hustle, bustle, and pressure to perform of the PAX floor. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter when or where I play Rose and Locket, it’s still one of my most anticipated releases of 2024.

Rose, a reformed outlaw who traded her pistols for parenthood, is drawn back into a life of blood and lead when her daughter’s soul is trapped within a silver locket. Guided by the malevolent entity Envy, Rose must travel to the Underwest to claim the bounties on the Deadly Sins in an effort to reclaim her daughter’s spirit. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to warrant both a yee and a haw from me.

These narrative threads were laid out as I completed a short, simple tutorial that introduced basic traversal mechanics like a double jump and dodge roll, as well the fundamentals of combat. Aiming Rose’s six-shooter with the right stick and firing with a trigger took care of some nasty worms, while a stick of dynamite thrown at a crumbling wall cleared my path. As the demo progressed, my arsenal expanded to include a lever-action rifle with a slower fire rate but longer range, and an ability called fan the hammer that unloaded all six bullets from my revolver at once. Gameplay is smooth and approachable, and the promise of more upgrades and deeper combat options has me excited to press on past the confines of the demo.

Rose and Locket’s art direction demands your full attention from the very first frame. Feeling like a moving comic book, the striking character and world designs are complemented by a bold colour palette that changes from scene to scene. Onomatopoeic text subtly appears to further the graphic novel style, with “CHHK” resonating from under Rose’s feet and a mighty “BOOM” flashing up as an explosion demolishes a wall.

The art direction goes so far as to directly influence  gameplay too, with certain sections cutting the scene in two, as though they were separate panels on a comic page. Platforming across one panel, only to be lifted into the next by an elevator is a unique way to fully utilise the concept, and it left me wondering what other tricks might be in store in the full release.

The demo closed with Rose confronting one of her marks: Wrath. Bathed in hues of red, the boss fight was a multi-stage affair that began with Rose piloting a flying casket in a bullet hell sequence that transitioned into a more traditional arena battle before ultimately concluding with a timing-based gauntlet of flaming skulls raining from the ceiling. The story revolves around these climactic showdowns with the various bounty targets, and this first taste certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The demo for Rose and Locket only takes about 12 minutes to see through, but the amount of style and finesse that’s packed into such a short amount of time is unreal. I haven’t been this impressed by a snippet of gameplay in a long time, and with so many promising elements working in tandem here, I have very high hopes that this is only the tip of the cowboy hat.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Rose and Locket is set to release on PC in 2024.

Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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