REVIEW – Take King Graham and pour him with the Telltale-essence, then put him into an area with lots of walking around. That’s technically what King’s Quest’s revival is: the young, to-be-King stories from the past with brilliant audio, slightly outdated visuals, and fun puzzles in the veteran franchise’s latest installment…
Once upon a time there was a King’s Quest IX. Well technically, three of them: yes, Graham’s horse fell to the wayside that many times, probably stressing Roberta Williams, the creator – the fourth try was the successful one developed by The Odd Gentlemen, but it didn’t get numbered for a reason, as it’s not meant to be that. It’s actually an episodic game, divided down to five chapters, going away from the route seen in Telltale’s and Dontnod’s games. Still, it keeps the style somewhat similar, but the story is different: these will be mainly the old Graham telling his stories to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn.
Although we will only play two stores in the first chapter, already the first one – getting the Magic Mirror – will derail from the most known episodic games’ styles. We will get to solve puzzles, while still having QTE elements and some decisions here and there.
Yes, there isn’t as much limitation in movement as in say, Life is Strange, because there will be a considerably big area in the second story, although most places will have just one event for us to complete… except for the town of Daventry, which will be visited multiple times.
Stories, stories, stories…
King Graham will be puny, or should I say, PUNy? He will have tons of puns, so beware, you have to get used to them. The first story will see us visit the Dragon Well, which will happen after the visit in the second story (this will happen first in timely order), so there will be déjavu moments of certain spots during our travel across the caves, but it takes some of the ratings away.
In case if you play the game blind, there will be backtracking, and by that, I mean a lot of that. Graham cannot run that fast, so you might spend a good minute between running points A and B, and only ONE location cuts this travel segment out entirely. This is not a joke. I think around 15% of the game consists of running around. I wish Graham was able to move faster, because this speed kinda pads out the game in my opinion…
King’s Quest uses the Unreal Engine 3 (surprised? I’m not), which while has a hand drawn style, I think the visuals are really nothing special, although I admit it that it’s still stylish. Dontnod’ Life is Strange is miles ahead in visuals. However, the audio IS unreal. The voice acting, led by Christopher Lloyd and Zelda Williams, is absolutely brilliant. Lloyd’s voice fits the old King perfectly. The music is also wonderful: these melodies would perfectly fit even into a movie, and it changes dynamically at certain places. I’ll be honest, I’d actually listen to the soundtrack on a CD!
The game has great humour, so in case you end up failing here and there (it happens to anyone, nothing to be ashamed of), King Graham will have some funny lines. And while the dialogues-actions have some options to pick from here and there, I don’t really see the effect of these just yet. This is something that needs time to develop, especially because it’s the first episode.
However, putting these opinions aside, it is likely that King’s Quest might be a perfect game to reinstate the franchise to its former glory. If the later episodes have less tedious walking, while keeping the excellent audio and the great puzzles, then King’s Quest will be one of the good examples of how an old franchise can be modernized. Although it rethinks certain events of previous games, it’s still made in a very respectful and honest manner.
+ King Graham stories are still awesome
+ Superb audio
+ Puzzles that make you think!
– Stylish, but outdated graphics
– Backtracking and walking a lot
– We don’t see the effects of our decisions yet
Publisher: Sierra Games, VU Games, Activision
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
Publication: 28 July, 2015,