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About the Story""But my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Welcome to the Citadel of Justice. The Inquisitor is waiting." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]
Nominee, Best NPCs - 2000 XYZZY Awards
3rd Place - The Top Five IF Games (Adventure Gamers, 2002)
-- Duncan Stevens
More than any other IF game I have ever played, Kaged allowed me to truly visualize my world. The walls of the Citadel are cold and grey, cameras everywhere to ensure no employee dissension. The living quarters are sterile and unwelcoming. It is somehow enchanting, but frightening also, and the ultimate resolution of your quest is remarkably satisfying.
-- Evan Dickens
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As a mood piece, "Kaged" is excellent. Every bleak, oppressive nuance of the world you live in comes to life in the vivid writing, enhanced by graphics and sound (the opening picture is especially evocative), and your own character is well-drawn. As a story, it is ambitious, but less excellent. I felt that what began as tightly woven threads unraveled near the end--and not just because of the protagonist's dissolving sanity. I came out of the experience with no real understanding of what had happened and why.
-- Suzanne Britton
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The plot wouldn't be that bad if you took only the very beginning and very ending of the game. At least it would be original. But when I saw the middle of the game and all those story twists I felt that I was seeing another bad movie with all the cliches and standard devices that I have already seen a thousand times. And the author manages to place at least two conflicting plots in this game.
-- Stas Starkov
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Kaged is original, well-written story with a rich vocabulary, but I couldn't figure out exactly who was on which side sometimes, which caused some confusion and spoilt the atmosphere.
-- Dorothy Millard
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
On the one hand, I have to admit that it does an outstanding job at achieving what appear to be its goals. By the end of the game I was twitchy, angry, and thoroughly awash in the reality-questioning quasi-madness brought on by works like Brazil and 1984. Like those works, Kaged is a kick in the head all the way through, and a very powerful kick at that. In a way, I love this -- I find it a brilliant indictment of authority run rampant, and perhaps even a radical thesis on the problems of non-interactive IF. All that makes me want to rate Kaged quite highly indeed. On the other hand, if I give it what it wants, doesn't that make me complicit? If I truly believe in resisting totalitarianism (and I truly do), then shouldn't I resist Kaged and its demands by giving it the lowest rating possible? Shouldn't I raise my voice as strongly as possible to insist that IF like this is unacceptable? Maybe I should. But then again, what about that old rationale of irony? Sure, Kaged shows us totalitarianism, and controls us with an iron hand, but isn't it just making a point by doing so? Sure. Of course it is. It's all ironic, you see? That's what it is. And it certainly would be overly paranoid of me to think of that as just a rationalization.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Kaged is illustrated with a handful of surreal images, which do more to strengthen the mood than to explain anything.
Sounds interesting when you begin, and there are a few interesting puzzles, a couple of which I thought were a little unfair. The first is (Spoiler - click to show)what it takes to get into the Bureau of Records - (Spoiler - click to show)there are two solutions, both of which remind me of the kind of tough puzzles commonly hurled at players back at the time this piece was written. The second is (Spoiler - click to show)sabotaging the security system for the prison doors. In all likelihood, you'll have to backtrack at least once for an important clue or item, leaving someone waiting. To be fair, the author did write the story to make it impossible to get into an unwinnable state, and does give the player ample opportunity to avoid death, so you don't have to worry so much about save scumming.
At one point, you're faced with a choice whether to continue the story or let it end. If you slug it out to the end, you'll discover (Spoiler - click to show)there are no good endings. You can either die or spend the rest of your life in a mental hospital, where you will receive regular electroshock "treatment." So having ended the game halfway through is really the closest thing to a good ending there is.
What I was hoping for in a true story of the Orwellian genre, was a large back story about how oppressed the citizens are and how thoroughly corrupt the government has become. There's hardly any of that here. Instead, you ultimately learn that the spreading madness (Spoiler - click to show)is fabricated by the Inquisitor himself, who is implanting people with Augmented Reality gear and projecting sounds and "three-dee" images that only one person hears or sees, and then using that as "evidence" of their loss of sanity and putting them away in the State Hospital. All that because (Spoiler - click to show)attendance at the public execution trials has been declining lately, and so all the time you spend in the latter part of the story, (Spoiler - click to show)breaking out of prison cells and running away from guards, was all staged in advance. You had become an unwitting contestant in a game show of life-or-death.
If the story had been advertised for what it is, and didn't lead me to believe it was an actual interactive struggle against a totalitarian regime, then I would have liked it better. The length of the game is just right in my opinion, not too short and not too long, and there aren't too many puzzles. It's worth a couple hours of your time, and that's all.
This worked surprisingly well. It makes for a great short story. You are a bureaucrat in a complicated futuristic society where everything is tightly regulated and disturbing. You are asked to help stop a menace in this world.
The game deals with the nature of reality and with mind-bending. A pretty crazy game.
Edit: The original version of this game, played on HTML Tads, has great music and graphics. Really worth playing.
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A Petite Mort entry for ECTOCOMP 2016.
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