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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...