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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.

Over the course of a single night, Doyle delves into the mystery of what happened to Cardwyke and the Salt Keep, struggles to escape the seemingly unstoppable forces pursuing him, and hopes to find anybody who can free him of his debt. He meets friends and foes along the way: a wounded merchant who has seen better days, a bitter stablehand in search of a plan, and a forlorn apprentice desperate to become an alchemist, among others. Some are helpful, and some need help, but in every case, his choices impact the paths of their lives as much as his own.

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 creep of bastard feudalism. Sprawling merchant conglomerates and faceless business structures pull the levers of power as much as 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 steeped in 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 fantasy/horror text adventure and RPG: think interactive fiction with mechanics reminiscent of CYOA games or classic gamebooks. The entirety of 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.
  • 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, as well as the things you choose to ignore.

THE DEMO

If you want to try a browser-based demo, you can find it on itch.io:

Free Demo

It includes the prologue and first chapter of seven total chapters. It should provide around two hours of gameplay, though it'll vary depending what you choose to do and how thorough you are.

The full game is novel-length (about 260k words) and offers around 10-15 hours of gameplay. It will also release on Android and iOS, but this demo should provide a sense of both gameplay and the direction the rest of the narrative will take.

CONTACT

If you want to help support development or keep track of progress:

Please enjoy, and keep an eye out for the full version coming February 10th!

WARNING: The narrative includes all sorts of violence and generally negative emotional states, which can vary based on your individual play-through.

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The Salt Keep version 1.0.9 has been released and is now available here (on Mac/PC), on Android, and on iOS.

This update makes a few small changes:

  • Adds better button labeling for screen readers. This fix won't be apparent to visual players, but for those using screen readers, navigation should be clearer on the primary gameplay tabs and on the settings menu. I'm no expert on this topic, but had some direction from this very helpful AppleVis directory review to make changes, so if anybody else has accessibility suggestions, I'm happy to hear them.
  • Adds a "No Transitions" setting. At the request of a couple of players, there's now a setting alongside "Fast Transitions" that eliminates the fade transitions altogether. When selected, this setting makes it so you'll hard cut from one "page" to the next. You can move through the game even faster now, so get ready to shatter The Salt Keep Official Global Speedrun* records.
  • Fixes "Bigger Text" overflow bug. This is just a straight-forward bug fix. Every once in a while, "Requirement Met" labels would spill over onto a second line and obscure button text when the "Bigger Text" setting was enabled, and this should correct it.

Screenshot 2023 03 07 at 5 41 18


Thanks, everybody! Enjoy!

*This doesn't exist, but I'm sure it will any day now, I'm absolutely positive.

The Salt Keep Available Now!

The Salt Keep Available Now!

News

The Salt Keep is out now! This text adventure and RPG (think interactive fiction reminiscent of CYOA games or classic gamebooks) is set in a high fantasy...

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