|Running in the family|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
- Publisher: Sierra
- Release Date: 29 July 2015
- Time played: 23 hours
Now that I’ve completed all five of the King’s Quest (2015) chapters as well as the epilogue, it’s time to review the game as a whole. Most of what I write here will be very similar to what I’ve already published in reviews for this game and I urge you to read them if you want more in-depth reviews of each chapter.
I managed to get King’s Quest as a birthday present because I’m a fan of point ‘n’ click adventures and played many of them during the late 80s and 1990s, mainly ones by Sierra or Lucasarts. While I didn’t really play many of the older King’s Quest titles, I did manage to play King’s Quest V and King’s Quest VI when they were originally released so it wasn’t like I was going into this series blind although I’m probably more of a general Sierra or point ‘n’ click adventure fan than a fan of King’s Quest specifically. It turns out it didn’t matter whether I experienced the original series or not because the 2015 version of King’s Quest is told from the point of an unreliable narrator, and that unreliable narrator is none other than King Graham himself. There are enough references to the original series though to ensure King’s Quest fans aren't alienated.
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. There aren’t as many of them in Chapter 2 (which has a darker tone overall) nor the epilogue (since I guess Gwendolyn is still a novice when it comes to puns) but they’re laid on pretty thick in the first chapter and the third one where you attempt to out-pun (is that even a word?) one of your potential wives.
In-jokesThere are quite a few references to the original King’s Quest series in terms of past events, characters, gameplay mechanics (e.g. using an inventory item on every object you could find to see what happens) and even an infamous riddle involving Rumpelstiltskin; For those into nostalgia though, you’ll really appreciate some visual gags in the final chapter.
MusicJust like the previous chapters, the music in King’s Quest is top notch, borrowing themes used in previous games. Along with many beautiful and whimsical pieces by David Stanton, he also borrows themes from the King’s Quest V soundtrack by Ken Allen and Mark Seibert; you’ll even hear an instrumental version of “Girl in the TOooOOOooOWER” from King’s Quest VI once you play Chapter 3.
Great voice actingKing’s Quest has an impressive voice cast with Doc Emmett Brown, er, I mean Christopher Lloyd as Old King Graham, Josh Keaton (Young Hercules in Hercules) as Young Graham, Maggie Elizabeth Jones (Rosie Mee in “We Bought a Zoo”) as Gwendolyn, Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in “The Princess Bride”) as Manny and Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin Williams) as Amaya Blackstone. You’ve also got a bunch of veteran video game voice actors too such as Kath Soucie, Kari Wahlgren, Fred Tatasciore and Rick Pasqualone in the mix too.
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).
Not just an adventure gameThe middle chapters all explore different gameplay styles so you end up with a hybrid of genres: Chapter 2 plays out like a survival simulator similar to The Organ Trail, Gods Will Be Watching or even the final part of Mass Effect 2 while Chapter 3 feels a lot like a dating simulator. Chapter 4 has so many puzzles that it starts to feel a lot like Portal, except in third-person – and in a fantasy universe - and there’s no portal gun… okay maybe nothing like Portal, but you do go from room to room trying to solve puzzles and riddles, so it’s probably similar to that old British TV show called “The Crystal Maze” – except you have a sphinx as a host instead of Richard O’Brien…
We are familyThe game explores Graham’s relationships with his entire family: his wife Valanice, his son Alexander, his daughter Rosella, and his two grandchildren, Gart and Gwendolyn. In fact, the entirety of Chapter 3 is dedicated to Valanice and Chapter 4, Alexander. The only thing that irks me is that they didn’t seem to spend much time exploring Graham’s relationship with Rosella (but maybe I’m biased, being the father of daughters)..
Sympathetic take on an old villainThis seems to be all the rage nowadays, with books like “Wicked” (which became a popular Broadway musical) giving reinterpretations on classic tales (“The Wizard of Oz” in this case) and making out the villains (The Wicked Witch of the West) into tragic characters. A similar thing happens in Once Upon a Climb and I like it.
Steam achievements that you have to work forThe game has Steam achievements, and you can’t get 100% of achievements by just playing from start to finish – you need to explore multiple paths.
What I dislike:
The chapters get shorterWhile the first chapter took me almost 6 hours to complete, every chapter after that are of a similar duration to a typical Telltale episode, i.e. 2-3 hours long. So if after playing the first chapter you expect the subsequent chapters to be just as long in duration, don’t.
Rush jobsSome chapters seem to be a bit rushed, like the fact there isn’t really a proper epilogue to the events in Chapter 2; Chapter 3 also feels a bit rushed during the latter half of the game as you’ll jump from one random quest to the next with very little plot or character development in between.
Flat endingWhile the build up to the ending was good and I think The Odd Gentlemen has ensured there was little in the way of loose ends, I still felt the ending was flat. There was quite a lot of emotion prior to the end but once you arrived, it was a bit anti-climactic and the day seemed just like any other day in Daventry when really it shouldn’t have; the epilogue doesn’t really help in that regard either which will make you wonder whether there is a second season of King’s Quest in the works or whether they simply forgot to mention what happened to the rest of King Graham’s family.
Score – 8/10 (Pretty Good)The new King’s Quest is like a family friendly version of a Telltale adventure game albeit with more challenging puzzles and more puns than you could possibly wish for. While some chapters feel rushed and the ending contains a number of loose ends, the beautiful music, great voice acting and heart-warming story sets King’s Quest apart from the crowd, making it a worthwhile addition to any games library, especially a Sierra fan’s.
Is the game worth $29.99 USD?: Yes, but only just. That’s about $40 AUD with current exchange rates. While it might seem a bit steep to pay for an adventure game (considering Telltale adventures usually cost $25 USD) there’s arguably a lot more puzzle solving to be done in King’s Quest and there’s at least 15 hours of gameplay here which is slightly more than your average Telltale adventure game.
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[ LINK: Official King’s Quest Website ]