Kaged

by Ian Finley

Science Fiction
2000

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Number of Reviews: 10
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
You spin me right round, September 9, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

With a Kafkaesque dystopia the author must be very careful that while the world is constantly spinning around the protagonist that the viewer in addition to being misdirected doesn't feel cheated. For the most part Finley does his job here.

I played this twenty years ago and played it again just recently (because I had honestly forgotten most of it) and was swept away both times. I have generally enjoyed frequent plot twists as long as they're fun (e.g. Wild Things) and don't negate everything that came before (e.g. The Game). Multiple times while playing Kaged I thought to myself "Hey, this isn't logical" (Spoiler - click to show) like when the guard was conveniently asleep knowing that in this government that would be dangerous), or the code on the matchbook for no reason and then it would be revealed later that I was correct and the inconsistency was intentional. I also felt like many of the plot twists were foreshadowed so that I didn't feel cheated at the end. (Spoiler - click to show)My favorite was being told that the Commissar had front-row seats to the execution, very cheeky. I also figured out the final twist with about five minutes of play time left (Spoiler - click to show) because of all the cameras which was a brilliant move by Finley. Throughout the game I felt empowered and thrilled by the chase, until right near the end where I felt powerless but compelled to press on. The parallels between the story and my experience as a player were often step for step.

My only critique of the structure was the ability to die at several different points along the way. While I understand that seemed necessary to conceal the ending, it feels like in retrospect that those ways of ending the story do indeed negate the final ending.

Many have commented that the puzzles are poorly clued. I frequently use walkthroughs while playing and I didn't have to resort to one here. And I felt many of the puzzles were heavily clued (Spoiler - click to show)(the armband one especially, and even how to help the boy) but your mileage may vary. However, there is one structural issue (Spoiler - click to show) being allowed to access the 10th floor before helping the boy that killed the plot flow a bit early on.

Finley's writing is, as always, a treat and despite the game's flaws I was happy to be along for the ride.