Before we get started with the review, I thought I’d give you a brief history lesson.
Kings Quest was first released in 1983 and spawned 7 sequels. Unfortunately, as popular as the original was, it has a chequered past. The 1990 re-release of the original was critically panned and subsequently, the scheduled re-release of the sequels were cancelled, along with many attempts at a Kings Quest IX game.
A planned Kings Quest title was in development from 2001 and 2002 but that was eventually cancelled.
Silicon Knights attempted to bring the series back, which was going to be a new Kings Quest game rather than being called Kings Quest IX. Unfortunately, this never got passed the prototype stage.
After Telltale bought the rights from Silicon Knights, it was announced in 2011 that they were intending to develop a new Kings Quest game. However this was also cancelled in April 2013.
Activision was determined to release a Kings Quest game and in August 2014 announced that they had passed the developing responsibilities to The Odd Gentleman.
And this brings us to the latest addition, Kings Quest: A Knight to Remember. This is the first chapter in a 5 chapter series, with an epilogue thrown in for good measure. It’s worth noting that this is neither a remaster or a reboot but rather a re-imagining.
So lets get to it.
The story opens with King Graham regaling his grand-daughter, princess Gwendolyn, a story of when he was a young boy and how he acquired the magic mirror. The way that this is done reminds me very much of The Princess Bride, with the King and Gwendolyn narrating your story as you make your way towards the dragon in the opening scene.
King Graham in this game is the same protagonist from the original series, although now he’s an elderly and very sick man. For the first episode at least, you’ll be playing as the younger version of Graham, as the king tells of his adventures to his grand-daughter and how he won the throne of Daventry.
The first thing that struck me about the this game is the overall look, to say that this looks like an interactive Disney movie wouldn’t be far off. The characters have been hand-painted and it looks stunning. This immediately drew me into the game.
The music accompanies the graphics beautifully. There’s music constantly playing during this game. For the majority, it’s quiet and in the background. However, when the action picks up, so does the music.
Along with the graphics and music, the voice acting in this game is very polished. Among the star studded line-up, there’s Christopher Lloyd, Wallace Shawn from Princess Bride (“Inconceivable!”) and Zelda Williams, the daughter of the late Robin Williams. The voice acting in a game like this is very important because there’s a lot of dialogue. The script from the original 6 Kings Quest games amounts to approximately 700 pages. For the first chapter of this ‘re-imagining’ alone, there’s 640 pages.
As the original games were adventure point-and-click games, this is made in the same vein. There’s many puzzles and trial and error. However, this also means that there’s a lot of back-tracking. And although the size of the environments aren’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, they can be big enough to cause some frustration when you have to continually back-track.
Unfortunately, this issue is slightly compounded when the main missions are never really separated from the side missions. As the game progresses, you may be given tasks by some of the towns folk, but you never really know if these quests are essential for progressing in the game or to just garner favour with the quest giver.
The other issue I had was more of a technical one, and that’s the camera angles. For the most part, they were fine and didn’t hamper me at all. However, when the camera angle is behind the protagonist and you’re pressing up on the analogue stick to move forward, it was a little disorientating when the camera quickly switched to the front of the character and up on the analogue stick quickly changed the direction from walking forward to walking backwards.
There was never any shortage of humour in this game though and this certainly eased any frustrations I might have had. From the strange characters that cross your path, to the slap-stick humour or even the two guards giving each other piggybacks because it was their day off.
If you’re still on the fence about this game, then I think it’s worth noting the value. The first chapter takes about 6 hours to complete and assuming that the remaining 4 chapters and epilogue are around the same play time, that’s about a 36 hour game. And if you were to buy the bundle (which includes all 5 chapters and epilogue), then you only have to spend AU$50 (US$40 or 32 pounds). For me, I think that’s great value.
Despite my small gripes about this game, I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the way it looked, the humour, the characters and the story. I’m looking forward to when I can return to Daventry to continue the adventures of King Graham.