There was a time when Sierra’s point and click games were considered the tip of the gaming arrow. Titles like Space Quest, Police Quest and, of course, Kings Quest dominated the charts and boasted an army of loyal followers that spanned the globe.
That was in the 80’s. Since then a lot has changed in gaming. Both genres and franchises we considered would last forever have long since vanished into the shadows. And, in so many cases, a developers attempt to revive their old glory days falls flat while leaving gamers with a sad bitter taste in their mouths. It was with this thought in mind that I approached developer The Odd Gentlemen’s reboot of Kings Quest.
To many, and I proudly count myself in this camp, Kings Quest was one of the finest point and click adventure games of its time. Rivalled only by the Monkey Island and Sleeping Dragon games, Kings Quest was the triple A title that dominated the genre. So what would The Odd Gentlemen do to this revered and much-loved title? Would they change it beyond all recognition in a vain attempt to woo new gamers? Would this new outing pay the ultimate homage to the franchise? Leaving the game virtually unaltered and, hence, remind us of how limited gaming technology was back in the 80s? Would it be any good?
After five hours of playing the first episode of Kings Quest I am happy to report that The Odd Gentlemen have done the game proud. Produced as an episodic title of five chapters, Kings Quest: A Knight to Remember is the first chapter in the adventures of King Graham who is narrating his tale to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. This first chapter retells the story of how our King Graham became a knight and the many trials he had to overcome in his younger days.
During the course of five or so hours you’ll find yourself travelling through the kingdom of Daventry solving puzzles, talking to NPC’s and interacting in what feels like a living, breathing world. In a shift from the earlier games reliance on point and click, you control the young knights movements through Daventry with the help of your controller stick. Items you can interact with are highlighted by an icon and you pick up and store items for future use. During the early stages of A Knight to Remember, the action is pretty linear and acts more as a way of introducing you to the games mechanics and its rules. Your job is a simple one: to steal a magic mirror from a slumbering dragon without getting eaten or burnt to a crisp. Later on the training wheels come off and you are able to solve puzzles in different ways and, consequently, affect the way the game unravels.
Visually Kings Quest: A Knight to Remember is simply stunning. The bright, colourful cartoon art style looks like something that’s been taken from a child’s storybook and transported to the big screen. Our screen shots here really don’t do the game justice. During the first few minutes of game play I spent most of the time with my jaw resting on my desk and my eyes wide open in wonder. It really does look that good.
We also have to raise our hats to The odd Gentleman’s choice of voice acting. With a talented cast including Wallace Shawn, Zelda Williams and The Spectacular Spider-Man‘s Josh Keaton, the voice acting is second to none. There are many laugh out loud moments and the dry, self-deprecating wit will often have you thinking of Monty Python and the Life of Brian. Excellent.
Game-play wise Kings Quest is surprisingly light on puzzles when compared to the 1980’s games. But the puzzles that are there are, for the most part, challenging but not so difficult that you’ll need a walk through. Quite often you’ll hit that eureka moment when you realize you just have to combine items in your inventory in a certain way in order to move on. As we mentioned earlier, there are often more than one way to solve a puzzle which adds to the games replay value.
The only niggles we had with the game were the over-long loading times and the fact that there is no quick travel option. Warning: In order to complete the first chapter of Kings Quest you’re going to have to do a lot of walking. And, given our knights leisurely gait, getting from one area to another can take a long time.
These minor issues aside, Kings Quest: A Knight to Remember is an excellent adventure game that will please both seasoned gamers and anyone that’s new to the genre. With most episodic games taking some two to three hours to complete, it’s a refreshing change to discover a title that gives you some five to six hours of great game play. We can’t wait for the second chapter.
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