REVIEW – The second King’s Quest chapter was a major letdown after the first one. I was a little worried to see that The Odd Gentlemen has completed the third episode, but eventually, I stood up with a smile. King Graham is back on the right track again in the story where he looks for his chosen one in Once Upon A Climb.
Even the beginning of the chapter seemed to be a breath of fresh air. The three areas of the forest had the three timeframes of the chapters while it also provided a puzzle with the owls. Graham starts his puns right off the bat, and due to the humor not stopping at all later on, Once Upon A Climb is a different experience.
A mysterious tower, a lonely king, and two princesses that need to be saved – who will Graham choose? This decision is depending on what the player does. However, Graham will still have to find a way out of the tower, as it will not allow us to just leave. The story – even by writing it down – is hilarious: there is an old person named Hagatha (a pun in the name, oh god *falls from the chair*) steals the princesses, and Hagatha also thinks that Graham is a princess himself! A princess, despite him looking manlier than ever before – his character has evolved over the three chapters, he’s not that lightweight weakling that we saw in the beginning.
The story – even by writing it down – is hilarious: there is an old person named Hagatha (a pun in the name, oh god *falls from the chair*) steals the princesses, and Hagatha also thinks that Graham is a princess himself! A princess, despite him looking manlier than ever before – his character has evolved over the three chapters, he’s not that lightweight weakling that we saw in the beginning.
The crew is expanding
The second episode, which mostly just played in jail, did not try to improve the cast of characters. Once Upon A Climb not only adds Agatha but the two princesses, named Vee and Nesse, as well. The gameplay also rolls around them, because as we solve the puzzles, we get closer to one of them. These tasks can take multiple screens up, just like the owl family at the beginning of the chapter.
The chapter seems to focus more on the narrative this time around instead of the gameplay: in previous episodes, The Odd Gentlemen put a significant focus on the puzzles. Not this time. Is it a problem? Not really in my opinion: it changes the gameplay up a bit, although it gets negatively affected by it.
I’d return to the two princesses for a moment: Vee is the stronger, honest character that enjoys challenges. Neese is the dreamer, adventurer type. They got stuck in the tower for different reasons, making their strengths their weaknesses. This story preparation is exactly the thing that I missed from the second chapter: our moves and decisions will have an outcome, which was not the case previously. The developers seemed to have taken the critique in and improve.
Graham is back, folks
King’s Quest also freed itself from the cage it locked itself in. The second episode had a closed, almost depressive art style. Once Upon A Climb not only took it off its back, but it also stomped on it multiple times before throwing it away into a nearby trash can.
Also, the audio and the music also kept that friendly, impressive, and high quality that have become trademarks of the King’s Quest chapters. The audio, as well as the humor is something that needs to be kept in the last two chapters. I ended up breaking up into a laugh multiple times. I rarely laugh, so well done.
Back to the success
Since the first episode, we are rating games a bit more harshly, but I’m going to hold my back and say that Once Upon A Climb deserves an 8 out 10. It isn’t revolutionary, but the audiovisuals, the story, and the ambiance are all nicely done. The only thing that holds it back from an 8.1 is simply the easiness of the puzzles. I’m now hopeful for the series again: let’s hope The Odd Gentlemen will not screw the fourth chapter, because so far, the series has a good-bad-good tendency…
+ Superb audio and decent visuals
+ The focus is on the story telling
– A tad too easy puzzles
– Too many puns: might be annoying to some after a while
– Can the devs make something even better than this?
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
Genre: Episodic, adventure
Release date: April 26, 2016 (PS4, PS3)