Before The Witcher, The Elder Scrolls, or even Final Fantasy, there was King’s Quest; a comical tale of a knight with a feathered cap who served the kingdom of Daventry so he can become King. It was the beginning of the point and click adventure genre and narrative within the gaming landscape. Now, step forward almost 30 years since the first game’s release, and we now have a remake of the original idea; it’s magnificent.
You step into the shoes of Graham, a clumsy, up-and-coming knight who wants to serve the kingdom of Daventry. However, he has to go through several challenges to become a knight in a competition against four others: the Duel of Speed, the Duel of Strength, and the Duel of Wit. It’s even a challenge to get to the actual event! The adventure is also being told by Graham (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) as an old man telling a story to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn. They both act as narrators to the story and include amusing lines of dialogue throughout the game. A plus is that rather than just having a Game Over screen, you go back to Graham telling Gwendolyn the story, and saying either how the mistake didn’t happen or he forgot about a detail; it’s an interesting twist to the game over screen.
The cast of characters and the world itself is brimming with personality. There are many laugh out loud moments within the story, due to the in-depth characters involved in King’s Quest and it’s slapstick comedy. It’s also great how they expose each of the knights’ weaknesses and personalities behind the armor. Achaka, especially, is a hilarious character — despite not speaking English — as he expresses frustration with Graham during a quest. The lines are well written with its witty dialogue, and the developers have gone the extra mile for those who like to ask questions multiple times towards characters. Each detail, line, and character trait were carefully crafted in this remake of a classic. The credits say that this is a tribute to the original creators of the game, and their childhoods of playing point-and-click adventures; it shows.
The developer of the game, The Odd Gentleman, have also put a lot of thought into the look of the world. The new King’s Quest touts a storybook and watercolor style that is sure to stand the test of time for 30 more years. Unlike most games of this generation, the game exhibits a beautiful, bright color pallet that makes the world inviting to explore. The characters have an immense sense of scale too, with trolls and dragons being enormous when compared to the shrimp sized Graham. In addition, The Odd Gentleman put a lot of detail into the characters, such as their mannerisms, the way they walk, and the hand drawn-esque scuff marks on their armor. The lighting is also stunning from when you enter in and out of caves.
The greatest factor of King’s Quest are the puzzles. Throughout the game, the developers were able to create many interesting puzzles within the one episode that all felt unique. They also felt incredibly satisfying to solve, and fit exactly into the predicament that the clumsy Graham was in. Quick time events are also used very well, especially when there are action scenes, as they require both skill and reaction time. For example, at one point in the game, Graham is going down rapids, avoiding rocks, and having to shoot his bow and arrow to get through obstacles through first person sections. They’re fun to go through, and it’s a great way to change the pace of the game every once in a while.
However, it is so easy to get lost in this game. Without a map, you can find yourself running in circles before reaching the intended destination. It’s fantastic that there is a big world to explore, but a map would have been an asset. It’s also sometimes perplexing to find where each item is. While the puzzles are incredibly satisfying to figure out, the items are laid in a random way that are difficult to find unless you are checking every single corner of the area; They’re so tricky to find that a walkthrough was essential for this review to complete the episode. Perhaps that is a part of the original formula, but after 15-20 minutes of running around like a headless chicken, it can get tedious.
Except for one hiccup, King’s Quest has impeccable sound design. The music by Ben and David Stanton captures the spirit of King’s Quest perfectly with its heavy use of percussion and wind instruments — It sounds like you are on an adventure. When the game has a mellow atmosphere, however, the strings and the piano gave me chills. The main theme, in particular, gives a nostalgic and beautiful note to the adventure with both the strings and piano, as well as the choral backing. By far, the soundtrack to King’s Quest is my favorite of the year so far.
The fantasy sound effects are on point too, with horns, bubbling potions, and the clash of a sword all sounding right in the world of King’s Quest. The voice acting is also top notch, with some of the best in the industry, including Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future), Josh Keaton (Hercules), and Wallace Shawn (Toy Story) to name a few. The comedic timing is perfect from the actors, and each presented was delivered flawlessly with the correct tone of voice. There was just one issue with the sound, and that was with a battle with Acorn, in which he kept repeating lines over and over again.
King’s Quest is a love letter to adventure game fans with its traditional gameplay mechanics, fantastic puzzles, and hilarious but engaging story. For newcomers, it may be a bit difficult to find all of the items without a walkthrough, but if you get frustrated, stick with it. King’s Quest is worth exploring the beautiful world that The Odd Gentlemen have made.
A review code for King’s Quest Chapter 1 was provided by Sierra for the purpose of this review
King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember$39.99/£31.99
- Great writing with laugh out loud dialogue.
- A variety of fun and satisfying puzzles to play.
- The colorful world.
- A wonderful soundtrack.
- Outstanding voice cast.
- There isn't a map.
- Items are placed randomly, making them hard to find.
- Repeating dialogue during one part of the game.