Secret Vaults of Kas the Betrayer

The Secret Vaults of Kas the Betrayer

A E Jackson


[spoiler]The Secret Vaults of Kas the Betrayer is a Twine fantasy game, apparently based on an RPG scenario.

As soon as I see that something is “ornately carved”, or encounter an “earthen mound” or an “oaken desk”, my heart sinks somewhat. Worlds such as these seem to me to be built of canvas and fibreglass, with skin-deep faux mythologies. There are things in them which ought to be wondrous. But the hard work of world-building involved putting these things into a context where they might make sense and actually matter, and I generally find that this is not done. Perhaps that is actually part of the point: this sort of fantasy is escapist, and that means escaping from the messiness of recognisably human affairs.

For me, the results are not usually of much interest. And they can even be jarring. So here. I am asked to admire an intricate combination lock – but it actually has fewer than 100 possible combinations, and someone has carved a riddle which discloses the combination on a nearby table. Later on there is another elaborate puzzle; but again, conveniently, the solution has been carved in a riddle on the same table. It hardly makes sense, and the way you were supposed to manipulate the second puzzle in particular was not obvious to me.

So anyway, Kas features some some puzzles, not especially rewarding to solve, and a great deal of very stereotypical “fantasy” prose, stuffed with cliches and with occasional spelling errors. (If you want to write a story about a thief, it would be good to be sure you know how to spell the word.) Those who enjoy such fantasy might get something out of this, and the coding and presentation is competent, though not outstanding. But for me it was just flat.[/spoiler]