Being a newcomer to the King’s Quest series, I wasn’t entirely sure how high to set my expectations. While I don’t know much about the classic games other than the genre and time period, I do know that reboots and remakes have a habit of focusing on new players or long-time players.
This episodic edition of King’s Quest tells the story of Graham, from his first foray in Daventry through the competition to name the kingdom’s newest knight through to his finding a wife and starting a family, and finally his final adventure in his old age. The story – or rather, the collection of stories – unfold through him recounting them to his granddaughter as he’s sick in bed.
All of the characters are perfect in their own ways, with Gwendolyn being absolutely absorbed in her grandfather’s stories while Gart is a bit more skeptical. While Graham’s stories focus on his adventures, in between each of his journeys it jumps back to the present day and lets his grandchildren’s’ stories unfold as they forge and strengthen their own relationships and try to find their places in the grand scheme of things.
Graham’s stories focus on his adventures, but in between telling these stories the game focuses on everyone else and how they’re dealing with things and coming together as a family. It all binds together quite nicely; alongside the stories of old adventures and relationships new relationships are being forged and strengthened in the present day.
The one that ties it all together, obviously, is Graham. The team behind the game did a wonderful job of chronicling him as a character as everything about him changes through the game, giving a good sense of time and experience. His voice goes through depth and speech changes as his role changes in life, his movements and reactions get more pronounced and then slow down as he carries himself differently in each stage of life, the way he carries himself reflects who he is at any given time. It’s extremely well done and watching him grow was, in a word, enjoyable. And of course, Christopher Lloyd, national treasure that he is, delivered the lines flawlessly and really brought Graham to life.
The puzzles throughout the game were standard as far as puzzles go. They started repeating very quickly, particularly in episode four, but the story and journey was more than enough to make up for that. The exception was episode two, which was the most painful episode of the bunch. If things don’t happen in a very specific order in that chapter it’s possible to completely fail and have to restart. From my understanding it channels some of that old-school point and click kind of gameplay but after the first episode, which had a completely different puzzle solving tone, it was completely out-of-place. Thankfully it transitioned back to the style from the first episode after that, but it still broke the flow.
It tried to go back to a classic genre for a bit and failed, but the references and jabs, both to the previous games – I didn’t catch many, but I have picked up a few I recognized from seeing them on the internet – and to the point and click genre itself were a roaring success. I especially appreciated the puns and the comments about inspecting everything in sight.
In a genre that’s dominated by Telltale’s offerings, the style of King’s Quest was a breath of fresh air. It brought more color to the table and had its own distinct style that complimented the story and gameplay very well. The special care given to Graham’s cape was hard to miss and felt like a centerpiece to tie everything together for the majority of the adventure.
Everything started as a lighthearted adventure, but the farther things got the more dark and real they became on a human level. Particularly closer to the end it dealt with a lot of self-doubt and worrying about what legacies are being left behind, and more than anything, old age and forgetfulness and being in denial. More than anything that made it a beautiful story about life and death and the trials and rewards that come with it. The whole game was good, but the ending had more impact and was more powerful than most games I’ve played in recent memory.
This is partly because these themes aren’t usually found in adventure games in such potency, but mostly because it’s incredibly relatable. It hit home hard for me as I’m sure it has countless others who are currently or have watched their grandparents begin to forget and slip away.
I’m glad I played King’s Quest The Complete Collection. It was easy to get into and I appreciated the call backs to that era’s games and the abundance of puns. The experience was heartfelt and enjoyable, and it’s a game I’d recommend without a second thought because of the care and heart woven into the story.
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