King’s Quest 2015

Let me start with a disclaimer. I’ve played and finished all the King’s Quests (with varying degrees of assistance) with the exception of King’s Quest 8. When we bought out first PC, the first game we bought for it was King’s Quest 6. And that was played over and over again. There’s a certain nostalgia to the King’s Quest series in my family.

So I was a little concerned on hearing of the development of an episodic Telltale-style adventure game. These things have a tendancy to be either very good, or very mediocre. It’s also not cheap, coming in at around £32 for the complete, unreleased game. A little bird told me that the first chapter was up on “Games for Gold”, so after a very stressful seven hour in the cars, I gave it a shot.

The opening sequence, as in most things acts as a tutorial, and had me worried. The mechanics of the game lent more to the original Dragon’s Lair than to a King’s Quest game: run, jump, swing, avoid dragon breath, make a choice, escape. But this is the opening sequence and after some narrative and set up, you’re dropped in to a larger world with more interaction, more objects, and more importantly, more puzzles.

The first chapter is not large. It took around five hours to complete, and that included a thorough exploration of the dialogue options. There are around a dozen characters to interact with through the game, and although the voice acting quality is high, the tone of dialogue was more of a blend of Monkey Island mixed with Disney rather than the usual more sombre tone of KQ games (exception to KQ7).

There’s very little here that’s recognisable as a King’s Quest game. The animation style is modern and somewhat exaggerated, it’s a very Telltale look (despite not being a Telltale game) that’s now accepted in this genre. The only character so far from the original cast seen on-screen is Graham (and a certain dragon), I’m hoping that changes as the series goes on. And Daventry feels very different.

Mechanics are not point and click, but rather walk and interact. There’s a small bit of me that wonders whether, back in the day, Grim Fandango may have had it right with tank controls. Nothing is complicated, there’s a distinct absence of moon puzzles, and in this chapter at least, all of the puzzles have been very rational.

It’s a pleasant game. It’s fun. In fact, it’s so fun, I’m now intending on grabbing the rest of it, so the freebie promotion clearly had the intended effect. It may upset die hard KQ fans, but I think it’ll hopefully please many more.