|GRAHAM! WATCH OUT! A PoOOoOiSONOUS VIPER!|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Sierra On-Line
- Publisher: Sierra On-Line
- Release Date: 1987
- Time played: 3 hours
Prepare for more blasphemy, Sierra fans! I am about to give a review of King's Quest II, a game I've never played before until quite recently. I say more blasphemy because I also reviewed King's Quest: Quest for the Crown not that long ago and gave it a mediocre rating of 4/10 and King's Quest II doesn't fare that much better.
Why am I playing these really old Sierra adventure games? It's mainly because I'm also playing the new King's Quest by The Odd Gentlemen. Quest for the Crown takes place in between the first chapter and second chapter of the new King's Quest and the third chapter of the new King's Quest is a re-telling of King's Quest II. So before delving into the latest chapter of the new King's Quest, I wanted to experience the original story.
Also, note that this review will read very similarly to my Quest for the Crown review, mainly because everything is almost identical except for the story.
What I like:
RetroA game that was developed in 1987 is obviously going to be retro by today's standards (as it's almost 30 years old): you've got the Adventure Game Interpreter's (AGI's) 160x200 EGA graphics, the PC speaker bleeping out Greensleeves, and everything was controlled using the keyboard. So if you're a gaming hipster, you'll want to be seen playing this game ;).
Text parserI know the text parser can be kind of cumbersome (and this one is particularly primitive compared to other Sierra games - there are so many words and verbs it won't accept) but one thing I always loved about the text parser is the ability to slowly learn more about your surroundings by examining the room. With the point 'n' click Sierra adventure games, you could often end up hunting for pixels in order to find a crucial item whereas in the age of the text parser, you could just type what to look for or at least search the room so that you'll be offered some keywords to use.
You're playing a piece of PC gaming historyKing's Quest II was the first King's Quest game to feature an introductory cutscene and the game was a collaboration with several classic Sierra designers; not only was Roberta and Ken Williams involved but also Scott Murphy, Mark Crowe and Al Lowe (Scott and Mark were the designers of the Space Quest series and Al was the designer for the Leisure Suit Larry series). So it's an important little piece of Sierra On-Line history.
What I dislike:
Extremely difficultThere's really only one thing I dislike about this game but it's a big one: the game is simply too damn difficult. I managed to plod along through the game hunting for items but then I got to a point where I wasn't exactly clear what I was supposed to do and I had a hunch that I would be in for a world of hurt if I tried to pursue the puzzles in this game any further: it turns out my hunch was right.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against dying, many, many times - that's a hallmark of Sierra adventure games even in the point 'n' click age - but what does infuriate me are these things: (a) random encounters to produce mission critical items, (b) the ability to reach dead-ends without even knowing it and (c) ridiculous puzzles with answers that don't really make any sense. Just like King's Quest I, King's Quest II has all of these! There are many times where you can accidentally give away important inventory items and you end up wandering around for hours not quite knowing whether you've yet to encounter the thing to help progress the plot or you've actually reached a dead-end. Worse, some critical items can only be gained if you randomly encounter a particular character on a particular screen. If you never encounter the character, how would you know to keep walking back into the screen to generate the random encounter?
While it's somewhat relieving to know there isn't a ridiculous riddle the likes of the original King's Quest in King's Quest II, the game still has its fair share of preposterous puzzles. Spoilers ahead! At one part in the game, you come across a snake that is blocking your path. What's the most logical thing to do in this situation? Walk around it? No. Distract it? No. Kill the snake? No. Throw a bridle over it so that it can magically turn into a talking Pegasus that gives you a magic ghostbustin' sugar cube as a gift for rescuing it? Yes. Seriously Sierra?
Look, I know this is a controversial thing to say to the hardcore Sierra fans (and I've already said this in my Quest for the Crown review) but I'll say it again - I think there are a few puzzles in King's Quest II that are borderline insane and it makes me think that the rumours about adventure game companies purposefully making games difficult so that players could pay for hints through books and phone calls, might have some merit.
Score – 4/10 (Mediocre)King's Quest II was probably a great game for its time, however, the only people who could possibly gain any enjoyment from this game today are masochists and the hardcore Sierra fans that grew up with the game in the 1980s (and already know how to complete the game). The game also lacks much in terms of plot and consequently, not really worth your time if like me, you want to learn a bit more about King's Quest lore.
(And before I get burned at the stake by the Sierra fans, I'm trying to judge this game on its own merits, playing it today in 2016. No doubt the game was revolutionary and a critical success in the 1980s, but nowadays, things have evolved and, in my humble opinion, generally for the better).
Is the game worth $13.59?: No. Although it really depends if you're an old fan (so you're probably already got a copy anyway) and what price you would put on retro games in general. The $13.59 gets you King's Quest 1, 2 and 3 though.
If you like this game, you might like…
- Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded (2013)
- Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok (2014)
- King's Quest - Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember (2015)
[ LINK: King's Quest 1+2+3 on Good Old Games ]