Publisher: Sierra Games
Developer: The Odd Gentleman
Release Date: 07/28/2015
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King’s Quest is one of the oldest gaming franchises as it dates back to the 8-bit gaming era on IBM PCs and Commadore 64, but it’s not very well known for being a PC-exclusive series. It also hasn’t been updated in a couple decades, so to see Sierra themselves publish this franchise got people excited, but King’s Quest landed in an era when The Walking Dead and Telltale Games’ way of doing adventure games reigned supreme. King’s Quest is a retelling of the life of King Graham and his family and his struggle to rebuild the kingdom of Daventry.
Chapter 1 starts out great with Graham trying to take down a dragon and steal a magic mirror. Graham’s past adventures are told through older Graham telling them to his granddaughter voiced by Christopher Lloyd. The typical adventure game stuff happens with walking around, talking to people, examining objects, trying to figure out which objects go where to progress, and the occasional button tapping and switch pulling. Chapter 1 has an action-oriented beginning segment and then the rest is set in Daventry with lots of backtracking and object hunting which I am not a fan of. I prefer The Walking Dead style of adventure games in which you walk around the immediate area, discover a few things, and have dialog choices and lots of scripted gameplay. Even games like Life is Strange does the exploration just right. I feel King’s Quest relies on this too heavily and it drags the game down in later chapters.
Once you get to Daventry you have to complete a series of trials to become King and you meet pretty much every main character in the game. I found the humor to be nice if not cheesy, the voice acting was great and the art style is decent, but the graphics are seriously dated. I also found some of the object hunting very vague and hard to figure out what to do and this was present throughout every chapter. I also didn’t like how you couldn’t skip dialog and cut scenes in the first chapter only. Outside of the constant backtracking through Daventry, the game is well-balanced and fun. There are a few logic puzzles thrown in for good measure too.
Chapter 2 is where things fall flat with just a giant cave area to explore and you must rescue some of the characters, but it’s not explained that you can lose all the characters for the rest of the game if you don’t do things in a certain order. The object hunting vagueness is never more annoying than in Chapter 2 with the entire chapter completion relying on this solely. I could never figure out what objects were supposed to do what and go where and sometimes I flat out missed objects. You are supposed to sleep every day and each day the characters lose health. I didn’t know this until after day 3 and I lost two characters. Eventually, I found out I did everything completely wrong and was left with one character and the rest are out of the story throughout the entire game. It’s very unfair and difficult and wasn’t really all that fun.
Chapter 3 is probably the best as it feels more like other adventure games. A little bit of object hunting, but mostly story and action sequences. It was really fun and the story at this point was picking up and felt faster-paced. Then when Chapter 4 hit it slowed completely down with nothing but puzzles. There are about 20 or so puzzles in this chapter some are easy and some just make zero sense no matter how you look at it. It was better than object hunting as this chapter had the least amount of that including backtracking. Chapter 5 mixes everything up as the story concludes but you go back to exploring the same Daventry as Chapter 1 all over again and it’s just so tedious and boring. The ending consists of insanely difficult logic puzzles, a few are fun, but most of them make no sense. Then the game ends with an object hunting epilogue chapter that is also a chore fest.
King’s Quest just couldn’t pick one style of gameplay. One chapter is object hunting heavy, while another is all story and action, and the next is all puzzles. It’s very disorienting and makes the game feel like a chore to play despite the interesting characters and fun stories. I loved hearing Christopher Lloyd speak and there were a few nice plot twists, but nothing too crazy. The story is forgettable for sure but has a nice conclusion that doesn’t have a cliffhanger. But who is this game for? King’s Quest fans for sure, and maybe adventure game fans, but fans of just modern adventure games might be turned off by the old-school shortcomings of this game.
Overall, King’s Quest is a fun 10-hour romp through Medieval times and following the goofy King Graham and co. through their adventures is fun while it lasts. The game suffers from poor pacing, indecisive gameplay choices, dated visuals, and some incredibly vague puzzles. With the small price tag these days, this is a fun weekend play-through if you want something to veg out on or play with someone by your side. I would have wished the dialog choices had more meaning as most of them are pointless no matter what you chose and there is no real way to sway to the story outside of Chapter 2’s character starving mechanic. I enjoyed King’s Quest, but there’s just so much more it could have been.