The Keyper is a casual adventure game for Playdate that unexpectedly made me cry

Explore an apartment building to find the missing keys and… discover beauty in the mundane?

Cool Lemon Club

Sometimes it’s the simplest games that end up leaving you all teary-eyed and emotional.

When I first downloaded Cool Lemon Club’s The Keyper for Playdate, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations beyond a general sense that it should be pretty good, since lots of people online seemed to be recommending it. The adventure game, which is available on and the official Playdate Catalog, sees the player searching for the many different keys needed to unlock areas of the mysterious Winchester 21 building after taking over the role of caretaker. The person who formerly held the job is gone, leaving only some cryptic notes behind, and the residents are varying degrees of weird.

On its face, it seems like a pretty standard game of puzzle solving and exploration. It’s effectively frustrating throughout, as you repeatedly retrace your steps trying to navigate the Winchester 21’s several floors and labyrinthine tunnel system to find the keys and the doors they unlock. But as the plot unfolds and you uncover more of the building’s secrets, The Keyper reveals itself to be a game with a lot of heart.

Its charm lies in the strange interactions between you and the people who live in the apartments (and tunnels… and walls) of the Winchester 21. They each have their own little storylines, some of which present new mysteries and side-quests for you to take on. One of these in particular really tugged at my heartstrings, but I wouldn’t dare spoil it for you here.

The Keyper is a little dark, a little funny and just the right amount of challenging. While it does offer the option to save your progress so you can walk away from it and come back later, I’d recommend setting aside a few hours and just playing this through in one shot for the most impact. By the time you reach the end and finally figure out what’s been going on all along, the entire tone of the game has shifted into something a lot more heartwarming than it all first appears. I may even have cried a little during the final scene.