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The Salt Keep

by Small Gray Games profile

Fantasy, Horror, and RPG
2023

Web Site

(based on 1 rating)
1 review

About the Story

The Salt Keep is a text adventure (think interactive fiction with Choose Your Own Adventure and RPG mechanics) and should feel familiar to fans of classic gamebooks and fantasy fiction in general. A playable demo is available on itch.io and the full version can be purchased:

- On itch.io
- On iOS
- On Android

- THE STORY -

Set in a high fantasy world with low fantasy stakes, the character-driven story of The Salt Keep follows a struggling merchant named Doyle who stumbles into a life-or-death mystery. During the last legs of a months-long journey as a traveling salesman, Doyle stops in the seemingly deserted village of Cardwyke to meet a friend who has promised to help keep him financially afloat, but what he finds is even more dangerous than the crushing weight of debt.

- THE SETTING -

The world of The Salt Keep should be familiar to any fan of fantasy it has breastplates, and swords, and other fun stuff like that but is shaped by the vaguely industrial and creeping decline of feudalism. Sprawling merchant conglomerates and faceless business structures pull the levers of power as much as the dukes and knights.

The world is meant to be both a reflection of traditional fantasy settings (the England-coded sword and sorcery and D&D-style locations we're used to) and an answer to some of their most frustrating tropes. It's not a world of prophesied heroes doing Great Man Theory or of grimdark anti-heroes exposing the essential evil of humanity, but of ordinary medieval schlubs trying to survive within alienating and oppressive political systems.

In other words, it's not a world a character like Doyle has any hope or intention of changing; he only means to survive.

- THE GAMEPLAY -

The Salt Keep is a text-based game, so the action is described through text and the player navigates and makes choices via button inputs. Through these basic mechanics, you'll be able to:

- Guide Doyle through the village and the towering keep that looms above it as he searches for a means of escape.
- Collect items and discover their uses.
- Equip gear to improve Doyle's ability scores.
- Succeed or fail at percentage-based challenges.
- Earn experience and level up based on those challenges.
- Talk to and work with NPCs to make progress.
- Uncover secrets and missable areas.
- Risk grievous bodily harm.

Despite the prevalence of choices and risks, there is no chance of death or dead-ends. The story always moves forward. In turn, you'll change the outcome of Doyle's story (as well as those of the NPCs) not just through the things you choose to do, but through the things you fail to do, and the things you choose to ignore.

- THE DEMO -

If you want to spend some time in the world of The Salt Keep before you commit, you can play a demo in the browser here:

The Salt Keep on itch.io

The demo includes the prologue and first chapter of the game, and any progress you make can be transferred to the full version.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: February 10, 2023
Current Version: 1.0.8
License: Commercial
Development System: Custom
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: 30q5niazr6romgkp

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Member Reviews

Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 1
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Compelling mix of CYOA and RPG, February 24, 2023
by katz (Altadena, California)

You arrive in town only to find it abandoned. Where are the villagers? What happened to them? This familiar setup quickly moves into a tense, action-packed story that continually kept me on my toes.

The unusual third-person perspective gives the Salt Keep a novel-like feel, which is one of its strengths. There must have been temptation to make Doyle an AFGNCAAP, but making him his own distinct character was the stronger choice. And how many fantasy stories have you read that star a traveling salesman?

The thing I found really interesting in The Salt Keep was the blend of CYOA mechanics and RPG stats. While some of the scenarios have the familiar "Find the item to use in the place" mechanic of CYOAs and parser games, you also have stat blocks and can make checks with a chance of success or failure. This kept me on my toes and forced me to think more strategically than the usual one-lock-one-key puzzle-solving of adventure games. Instead of simple failure, failing a check usually allowed you to complete the action but suffer an injury, resulting in consequences that cascade as the game proceeds. It also increases replay value--maybe this will be the playthrough when I just beat the guard in hand-to-hand combat! (Note: It was not.)

A high fantasy with a classic feel and lots of action, I enjoyed The Salt Keep a lot. Now to deal with my sliced hand...


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This is version 6 of this page, edited by smallgraygames on 21 February 2023 at 10:44am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item