I think one of the things I regret most about growing up in the 90’s is never being allowed to have any games on my computer. Honestly, my dad was like SUPER totalitarian about what went on our crappy Windows ME computer, and what was worse was that he was like a god damned Sherlock Holmes and even if you hid the file in the bowls of the directory, he would find it. He always found it…
The only game I ever had on my PC growing up was Starcraft, and even getting that was a massive chore, despite getting it from a friend (the old key sharing of way back when), there was the pleading of why we deserved to have it, and the defense we had to put together to allow it on the PC. It’s a real shame because I missed out on the defining age of PC gaming, particularly the works of Sierra.
I had only ever played a few real point-and-click adventure games on Newgrounds, so while I was aware of the genre, I never got to experience any of the classics. And in today’s modern and progressive society, the genre has all but disappeared.
Alright, disappeared isn’t the right word, but it’s changed so much it’s barely recognizable from what it used to be. And in pretty much every case, that’s been a really good thing.
King’s Quest follows the same formula as many of the Telltale “point-and-click” style games. The fundamentals are still in-tact, however a lot of the middleman has been cut out for a more fluid and engaging experience.
While developed by The Odd Gentlemen and produced by Sierra, King’s Quest takes on the episodic style popularized by TellTale games (though Google seems to suggest Telltale still had a hand in this). The first chapter: “A Knight to Remember” begins with a prologue as King Graham, now an old man telling the story of how he rescued a Magic Mirror from the dangers of a dragon’s keep, to his young granddaughter Gwendolyn. Veteran players may find this familiar, as it is a reimaging of the events of the first King’s Quest.
What follows is the main story, and a prequel to the first King’s Quest, as a young Graham enlists in a contest to become a knight in the fictional land of Daventry. To do so he must compete in a test of strength, speed and wits in order to secure his place as a knight in King Edward’s court.
King’s Quest’s gameplay is similar to that of the Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us and other TellTale style games. A very basic “point-and-click” style game with a heavy emphasis on storytelling where interaction with characters influences events in the next chapter. There are three choices in-particular, (the path of strength, intelligence or compassion) that not only influence Graham’s story, but also a side-story involving Gwendolyn as she is influenced by her grandfather’s tales of glory. While it doesn’t exactly keep you guessing like previous games of this style it’s a gameplay style that always works well, allowing for a lot of memorable moments that’ll keep you guessing until the next chapter is released.
This style also allows for the same logic puzzles found in point-and-clicks, but eliminating a lot of the guesswork. While the item collection is still there, the sheer number of items has been severely reduced, and it’s much easier to figure things out as the characters often give subtle clues through dialogue. However, the game isn’t strictly item puzzles. Adhering to more modern sensibilities, King’s Quest also features a few more action focused moments complete with QTE’s and even a few FPS sections. These moments help bring King’s Quest into the modern day and help tailor it to a wider audience.
While dialogue options aren’t as robust as some of the previous games in this style, they offer a lot of character and comedy. The whole thing has the vibe of one of the great Don Bluth films, or more pertinently, much like Dragon’s Lair.
King’s Quest looks beautiful, full of bright colors and gorgeous landscapes. One of the things I love most about it is how The Odd Gentlemen hand painted everything before scanning it and turning it into game assets. The whole thing looks like a painting, come to life and a style that captures the soul of the original King’s Quest games, while improving on them ten-fold. The animations are all fast-paced and create the cartoony feeling that the quirky characters and goofy dialogue rely on. Outside of a few graphical glitches where Graham’s cape phases through his arms, the simple style and beautiful landscapes make this game an absolute treat for the eyes.
Dipping deep into the resource pool, King’s Quest is not only backed by a fantastic fantasy soundtrack, but also a wide range of talented voice actors, most notably Christopher Lloyd as old King Graham. Also on deck is Josh Keaton as Young Graham (which you may know as the voice of Jak from the Jak and Daxter fame), Zelda Williams as the “tough-as-nails” blacksmith Amaya, Tom Kenny as the shifty “Merchant of Miracles” and Wallace Shawn as the deceitful knight Manny. Everything works well, from the music creating a beautiful fantasy environment and adapting to each moment as the scenes change, to the voice actors creating wonderful and comical characters.
King’s Quest is an excellent first chapter in this excellent reimagining of an excellent game. Longtime fans will be pleased with the respect and homage it pays to the originals, while still being adaptive and accessible to newcomers. With a great start to the story, likable characters and interesting and fun gameplay, King’s Quest is definitely a crown jewel.