|The Odd Gentlemen: An odd choice for an adventure game developer|
A couple of days ago, Matt Korba founder of small, indie developer The Odd Gentlemen announced that his studio would be developing a new official King's Quest game as part of Activision's resurrected Sierra. Apparently in the new story, King Graham shares his life adventures with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn. It's through these stories that Gwendolyn learns about her grandfather's greatness.
And that's all we've got to go on so far.
Before a couple of days ago, I had never heard of The Odd Gentlemen, so it made me wonder why on Earth Activision picked a relatively unknown small indie development house to create the next King's Quest game when they could've gone with an experienced, medium sized studio like Telltale Games (although apparently Telltale Games themselves were considering outsourcing development of King's Quest when they held the IP). So I decided to investigate a bit more about The Odd Gentlemen to find out whether they have the right kind of experience to pull off a game based on one of the most loved adventure game franchises of all time.
The Odd Gentlemen's first game called The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, released in 2010, is arguably their best. I have heard of this game and there is a reason why: the game has won several awards and is critically acclaimed (with a Metacritic rating of 79). The game is apparently a puzzle platformer and is so good that it received comparisons between it and games like Portal and Braid. The game was developed for the PC and Xbox Live but that wouldn't be the case for their next game.
In 2011, The Odd Gentlemen developed their first iPhone game called Flea Symphony and on 16 July 2014, released a Steam game in collaboration with English author Neil Gaiman called Wayward Manor. Wayward Manor, apparently another casual puzzle game, didn't fare so well, receiving a Metacritic rating of 49 and many negative Steam reviews. Incidentally, the game is also missing from the list of games on the official The Odd Gentlemen website.
Besides King's Quest, The Odd Gentlemen are also working on a Kickstarter backed game that received almost $2.5 million called Homestuck Adventure Game.
Reason to be concerned?
I must admit that I am feeling a little bit anxious about The Odd Gentlemen being tied to development of King's Quest. The only things going for them so far are that they've managed to release a pretty good game with The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and that since most of their experience is with puzzle games, the puzzles are bound to be entertaining in a new King's Quest - however this leads directly onto one of the reasons I'm worried. The Odd Gentlemen have never developed a point 'n' click adventure game. So either they're going to be bumbling along while making King's Quest or worse, King's Quest isn't going to be an adventure game.
Another concern is that they tend to focus on seemingly small games focused on puzzle gameplay, I mean they did release a game on the iPhone after all. This could mean any game they develop may have story taking a backseat to the actual gameplay where usually it should be the other way around for an adventure game.
Finally, it seems The Odd Gentlemen's performance is erratic, at least when viewed by the critics. While their first game was a big success, subsequent games have either not made it to PC or received mediocre ratings.
Let us hope The Odd Gentlemen can alleviate our concerns by showing us some concept art, screenshots and footage in the upcoming months. Or bring Roberta Williams aboard. Then I'd feel a bit more at ease :).
[ LINK: The Odd Gentlemen are Pleased to Announce Their Next Adventure: King's Quest ]