Year released: 2016
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
I’m not sure how to write this post. I’m not sure how I can convey how absurdly much this game series has meant to me over the course of my life.
The first game I played in the series wasn’t King’s Quest I. That was before my time. The first one I played was King’s Quest V. I couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11. The game came on a whole bunch of 5 1/4″ floppies, holding a whopping 512 Kb each. Graham, standing beside a creek, outside a small house with smoke flowing out the top. King Graham. But no crown – a blue cap. Blue cap, red shirt. I never even came close to beating the game. I didn’t even see the second half of it until years later. But it latched into my mind.
I have always loved fantasy, and that’s thanks not to The Lord of The Rings; It’s thanks to The Prydain Chronicles, The Wizard of Oz, and maybe most importantly, King’s Quest. There was something about the way the game combined fantasy, mystery, and humour that completely captivated me. I eventually went on to play every game in the series (yes, even Mask of Infinity, aka the King’s Quest Game that Shall Not Be Named), and even completed a couple of them.
So when I heard that a new King’s Quest game was in development, I felt an odd mix of excitement and trepidation. On one hand, I knew that no game would be able to fully capture the magic of my memories. On the other, I was eager to return to Daventry just one last time.
The new KQ plays out over five episodes, each focusing on a different point in King Graham’s life, and offers ‘reinterpretations’ of moments covered in earlier games. The new game itself never actually overlaps with those earlier games, but fills in gaps between them and offers new takes on some of their endings. For example, at the end of the original King’s Quest II Graham meets his future wife, queen Valanice, at the top of a tower in a mystical realm. This new game starts just as Graham reaches that tower (although it’s no longer in a mystical realm any more) and at the top there is not one but two women being held captive. Depending on your choices in the game, one of them will become the future queen. The way the game integrates old ideas and new is actually rather clever, and I appreciated the callbacks greatly.
I’ve only played through two and a half episodes at this point, but so far I’ve been liking what I’ve been seeing. It’s been hit or miss at points – sometimes the humour is a little too slapstick, and sometimes the characters don’t resonate as I think they should. But for the most part, the game feels like a King’s Quest game, and that is not small feat.
The game isn’t perfect. No game could be. If I were to make it, I probably would have chosen to do it pixel art style to increase the nostalgia factor, but I’ll take what I can get.
Rating: 4 out of 7 King’s Quests.
Next up: Life is Strange.