|Just wait until King's Quest V, Graham: you'll get to see a great disappearing act|
- Review by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
- Publisher: Sierra
- Release Date: 29 July 2015
- Time played: 5.8 hours
I'm a big fan of the point 'n' click adventures of the late 80s and early 90s meaning I played quite a few Sierra and Lucasarts adventures (and when I was older I filled in the gaps). Quest for Glory was always my favourite Sierra series but I did dabble with Police Quest 1, Police Quest: Open Season, Space Quest II and a couple of King's Quest titles: King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! and King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. I had fond memories of playing the King's Quest games but I was never motivated enough to revisit the games preceding King's Quest V nor the games that followed King's Quest VI despite now owning King's Quest 1-8 thanks to GOG. With the older games, it was mainly my fear of becoming frustrated with them, since Sierra games in general have a reputation of being unforgiving. I've got no excuse for King's Quest 7 and King's Quest 8 although I don't think they rated as well as previous games in the series - so maybe that's why I never bothered touching them.
Well, fast forward to 2014 and Sierra is resurrected by Activision as a sub-division that specialises in the publishing of indie games. Not only that, but they also indicate that a new King's Quest is in the works by some chaps I've never heard of before called The Odd Gentlemen. I was initially quite skeptical that these guys had the capacity to pull off a reboot of such a venerable series. My concerns were somewhat abated when Roberta Williams, the creator of the original King's Quest, gave her blessing to the project after reviewing what The Odd Gentlemen had done so far. I was also quite relieved when the game was finally released last year to glowing reviews with a Metacritic rating of 82 and a Steam rating of "Very Positive" (90% of the 816 reviews for the game are positive). I eventually managed to grab a copy of this game as one of my birthday pressies so I can finally tell you all what the fuss is about!
What I like:
Puns!My unhealthy love of puns is probably all thanks to those old Sierra adventure games since this is definitely one of their hallmarks. Thankfully (or unfortunately, if you hate puns), there are a plethora of puns to stumble across while playing the latest King's Quest. Puns aside though, I find the game to be generally humourous and light-hearted which is refreshing to see in an adventure game.
In-jokesAlong with the puns there are quite a few references to the old Sierra games such as using inventory items on just about everything as well as that special audio clip that they always played in later Sierra adventures whenever you picked up inventory items (or were awarded points in general).
MusicThe music is whimsical and beautiful. You can even hear passages from the King's Quest V soundtrack originally composed by Ken Allen and Mark Seibert.
Great voice actingThe game has some great voice acting talent including Doctor Emmett Brown, er, I mean, Christopher Lloyd as an elderly King Graham, as well as a mix of talent including veteran voice actors Fred Tatasciore, Kari Wahlgren, Kath Soucie and Tom Kenny, as well as some voice actors with experience in Disney films, such as Josh Keaton, Jean Gilpin, Michael-Leon Wooley and Richard White. There's even Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin Williams) and Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in the Princess Bride - incidentally he plays a very similar role in the game as he does in the movie).
A Family-Friendly Telltale AdventureThe game is like a family-friendly Telltale Adventure, except not made by Telltale. I'm not sure about some of the more recent titles by Telltale, such as its adventure game interpretation of Minecraft, but when I played games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, or even Life is Strange (which, I know, isn't a Telltale game, but bear with me) they often had a lot of gruesome violence, nudity or adult themes such as rape, torture, etc. Definitely not games you could play in front of your kids. King's Quest on the other hand is suitable to play in front of your kids, well except for one part when a chraracter dies, that might be a bit disturbing for the younger kids, but besides that one instance, it's great. Also, like Telltale adventure games, you have the usual multiple narrative paths you can traverse as well as the occasional Quick Time Event (QTE) sequences (so if you hated these in the Telltale games, you might not enjoy this game either.
Steam achievements that you have to work forLike the Telltale adventure games on Steam, there are Steam achievements with King's Quest; unlike the Telltale adventure games on Steam, most of the achievements are harder to come by with only a few being awarded for successfully completing the game, which I think is a good thing. You should work to get 100% achievements instead of you having it given to you on a platter :).
What I dislike:
Hyperactive GrahamGraham is kind of crazy in this first episode of King's Quest; he reminds me of those anime characters where they're super excited, bouncing around the screen, speaking in a hurried tone without punctuation. I'm hoping he eventually mellows out across the series and you see him evolve into the character he was in the later King's Quest games since at the moment, this isn't the Graham I remembered.
Occasional graphical glitchesI sometimes experienced graphical glitches such as black lines running across the screen, but they were usually infrequent and tended to only occur when I was escaping to the menu screen.
I'm tempted to replay all the old King's Quest gamesNow that's going to be a lot of games to replay, since I only really ever finished King's Quest V and King's Quest VI. In fact, I've already tried playing the first King's Quest and I'm already stumped... time to find the walkthrough (which means I have already failed... NOOOOOOOO!)
Score – 9/10 (Brilliant)I'm finding it really hard to fault the new King's Quest; you get over 5 hours of gameplay for one episode (which is a lot compared to Telltale titles). You also get a hilarious, family-friendly Telltale-style adventure packed to the rafters with puns . The only real criticism I have is that the game might not be challenging enough for the conservative and hardcore Sierra fans who are used to devilishly difficult puzzles which often result in death as an outcome (although this King's Quest does have moments where you can die, so it's not like they completely discarded that tradition).
Is the game worth $9.99 USD?: Yes. With the current exchange rate, that’s about $13 and considering you get over 5 hours of quality adventure gaming, that's pretty good value. It's even better value if you purchase the game altogether (assuming the later chapters are as good as the first) as it's $39.99 USD - meaning it's like buying four chapters and getting the fifth free. But this of course assumes the rest of the series will be as good as the first episode - I definitely hope so.
If you like this game, you might like...
- The original King's Quest series (1983 - 1998)
- Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded (2013)
- Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition (2014)
[ LINK: Official King’s Quest Website ]
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