In the new chibi platform game Key & Shield you've been freed from your cell by a rather lackluster guardian angel who's gone and slipped you the key. The catch? It's up to you to rescue the rest of your buddies from the same predicament. I'm not sure where their own guardian angels could be, but I'm beginning to suspect a distinct lack of professionalism among the ranks there. Fortunately, Key & Shield manages to be utterly impossible in all the right ways. We love playing platform games precisely because they feature so many surreal things that couldn't possibly work in real life. Ledges of bricks that float in mid-air? Throwing balls of fire underwater? How about standing on the end of a ledge using only your toes? If what you're craving is a little more "Nintendo physics" in your day, Key & Shield's got you covered. Burst up onto overhead platforms while smashing the bad guys with your shield. Dodge fireballs in mid-air from monsters who are actually on fire themselves. Drift down gently like a leaf on the breeze floating on your own solid metal shield. Developers Fire Totem Arena, with Matt Oglesby and Luis Lancho
doing the music and sound, have put a lot of heart and character into crafting this lovable and impossibly surreal landscape — and it shows!
Move with [WASD] or the [arrows], and [Z] to break out your shield. You can use it to deflect fireballs, during a fall to activate Air Glide, or jump with it activated for an Air Attack. You'll be trying to free your brethren to complete each level, but to complete a level perfectly you'll also want to collect all the golden coins and rescue any tinier critters ("Babas") as well. Bouncing on some of the bad guys will take care of them, while others will bounce you (usefully, with any luck) across the screen... and fire-lobbing critters will turn you into a nice heap of ashes no matter how you connect with them. The difficulty level is a nice smooth curve and later levels will require plenty of do-overs to get it just right, but the level design is imaginative and the atmosphere throughout is so charming that you won't mind a bit. If you're yearning to take some time away from your all-too-ordinary day, Key & Shield is just the ticket.