In 2015, a game developer by the name of The Odd Gentlemen released a reboot of the Sierra franchise, King's Quest. For those not in the know, the original King's Quest has a long legacy of adventure games dating back to the 1980s. Most of the series tell a story from the perspective of King Graham of Daventry, and his adventures as he travels the lands not as a king, but as an adventurer, always willing to lend a helping hand. This 2015 reboot fills in the gaps between the various games in the main series. It tells the stories of how Graham became a knight which lead to him taking the throne, how Graham met his wife and fostered his children and it ultimately tells a tragic story of an adventurer who has grown old and can't live that exciting life anymore.
The gameplay in 2015's King's Quest is a fusion of classic adventure style gameplay (finding items to use in different places) and a variety of puzzles, which are used more as a form of padding time than anything else. Every chapter is told from the perspective of Graham telling stories to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. It wouldn't be a modern day episodic narrative if there weren't choices thrown in as well. As you progress through the game, you have to decide what kind of person you want Graham to be. In the end, your choices affect whether you become a brave, clever, or compassionate ruler, and these choices also affect how other characters interact with you.
The inclusion of choices comes off as a bit forced at certain points in the game. While you do have the agency to make choices about how to proceed, the choices themselves are very binary and inconsequential. There are moments where you do actually feel like you're making a choice on how to play. In one section, you're tasked with finding an eye of a beast for the tournament, do you hunt a dragon's eye or make a fake one? There are several moments where you have multiple solutions, but in the end, you have to do them all regardless and it just depends on which you do first. You can choose to make a fake eye, but you'll have to go after the dragon afterward.
It almost seems that the developers themselves began to feel how unnecessary the choices were in this King's Quest reboot. It's all well in good to have choices that impact how the story changes, but then you actually have to make the story change. There were very few times where the experienced changed based on what I chose to do. By the end of Chapter 3: Once Upon A Climb, there are no more choices, and the story has become completely linear. However, in an interesting twist, it's at this point that the story actually becomes extremely rich and interesting.
In my review of Chapter 4: Snow Place Like Home, I was very critical of how the gameplay was lacking in nearly every department. There were no adventure style puzzles, only bland slide puzzle challenges and reused minigames from previous chapters. Despite all of that, the story was getting progressively more interesting. For the first time in the game (and the history of King's Quest as a franchise) we get to see the whole family, we get to see Graham's children, Alexander and Rosella as adults. It adds a lot of personality to these characters we either haven't seen much of or haven't seen in a long time.
The final chapter, A Good Knight is when King's Quest really begins to feel tragic. As Graham is telling stories, the game becomes jumbled and inconsistent, as Graham is showing signs of dementia. Controls become inverted when he's confused and he becomes obsessed with telling a good story over what actually happened. It's truly depressing watching Graham suffer through this and I applaud the developers for taking it in this direction. The gameplay for A Good Knight is better than Snow Place Like Home, it does pad out the time with frustrating puzzles but instead of just reusing assets entirely there are many brand new and very creative puzzles.
Quite possibly the best part of 2015's King's Quest is all the love and dedication that this game shows to the original series. This game is jam packed with references and characters that tie everything together. It might not be as clear to someone who never played the original King's Quest games, but to the audience that did, it's a wonderful feeling to see all the love that was put into this. It's easy to see that the developers have written a fun story about a beloved character. The Odd Gentlemen not only captures the character of Graham in his golden years, but they expand him beyond anything the original King's Quest games could have done. 2015's King's Quest tells a beautiful story that even those who have never played the original King's Quests can appreciate.
Reading my reviews, it might appear that The Odd Gentlemen's King's Quest becomes progressively worse with each episode. It might seem that the gameplay degrades over time and to a degree it does, however, you can't only look at it from that perspective. At the beginning of this game, it starts off with subpar storytelling and very good gameplay, using all aspects from the old King's Quest games along with new ones. By the end of the game, the gameplay is easily the weakest aspect but the story has grown to be something incredible.
As a King's Quest fan, and a fan of the adventure style gameplay I loved this game even despite its flaws. I had my fair share of frustrations with the gameplay, especially in later episodes, but regardless I had a great time. I absolutely recommend it to fans of King's Quest and even to those who haven't played them.
The Odd Gentlemen's King's Quest has a hard time determining what it wants to be at the start. By the end of the series, it's the story that stands out more than the gameplay, and the story they have to tell is an excellent one.
- Beautiful Hand Painted Visuals
- Classic Sierra Style Gameplay
- Story Starts Slow and Finishes Strong
- Gameplay Suffers As Game Goes On