Reviews

King's Quest: Episode 1 – A Knight To Remember: there may be spoilers.

I’m going to be reviewing King’s Quest as the episodes come out, so I might as well start at the beginning.

King’s Quest is an episodic adventure game from Sierra Entertainment games, developed by the Odd Gentleman, following the adventures of naive but likeable teenage Graham (Josh Keaton) in his quest to become a knight of Daventry. The gameplay starts off with older King Graham (Christopher Lloyd) recounting his stories to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. When Graham was a teenager. the Kingdom had fallen into despair with murderous wolves, protesting bridge trolls and alchemists not being too great at their jobs. It’s a delightfully silly game.

The first King’s Quest was a standard point and click platform game designed in 1984 that has now changed so that the players can now control young Graham. This enables the player to interact with the surrounding area or objects that will help in the story goal of becoming a Knight of Daventry. The winner in the tournament is also chosen to become the current King’s heir to the throne. Old Graham recounts to his granddaughter about his adventures. The fun thing about this is that teenage Graham can’t die as its older Graham telling the story. What I found amusing is that when you die by Dragon or attacked by wolves, the narrator passes it off as a life lesson, sometimes as him misremembering certain facts.

 

dbai                          ‘If you wander into a dark cave full of wolves, you deserve to be eaten.’

 

Most of the stories told by older Graham aren’t always in chronological order making him as you start the game having won the tournament. This beginning actually hooked me into the game as it swiftly introduces the player into the world of King’s Quest. The player is taken through a cave where a dragon has been hording beds… Yeah, Davenport hasn’t got enough money for the dragon to pull a Smaug.

I greatly enjoyed this introduction as it not only establishes what type of game this is but it’s a fun way to learn the controls. Once the story of the dragon is over, the narrative shifts to older Graham retelling the story of his quest to Daventry. Since there a lot of cutscenes in between, I can see why the developers chose not to have this as the beginning of the game. It’s pretty slow paced and might have made player’s bored for an episode you can complete in an hour or two.

It follows a similar game style to Telltale Games: Wolf Among Us which prompts the players to make quick decisions in order to affect the outcome of the game or relationships with other characters. Although King’s Quest includes these dialogue options, it relies more on puzzle solving and obtaining items in order to succeed in the game. Rather than a standard hack & slash combat typical in a medieval setting, the player is supposed to defeat opponents with wits.

   A Knight To Remember does allow players to take different paths by exploring the city of Daventry. The various items scattered across the city become useful in order for you to obtain plot relevant ones. The thing about puzzle solving in a game like this does mean you are spamming the ‘X’ button on everything until it becomes clear. There are a few ways to obtain things that affect the plot too, having consequences later on.

Now, despite the fact I thoroughly enjoyed certain aspects of the game play, I still had a couple of gripes. I really, really, disliked the strength duel. I have no sense of direction at the best of times but running around trying to trip a guy up with string annoyed me. To the point I actually raged quit with a few colourful words throw in too. Some people are good at solving puzzles and some people are good at twisting bits of string around a pole. I am not the latter.

 

string                                           After an hour of this, you will become dizzy.

 

Another minor problem I had with the game was the inability to skip sluggish pacing, especially after dying and having to sit through another cutscene. For instance, the dialogue between Elder Graham and Gwen is sweet but not that relevant to the story of teenage Graham. As choices shape the game, replaying episodes to see different outcomes is always interesting. However, the player is unable to skip through dialogue they might have already seen. Saying this, I admit that found the interactions between a lot of characters pretty damn hilarious. The writing for King’s Quest is one of my favorite things about the game. But hearing it once or twice is enough.

I’m aware that you can finish the game in an hour so there isn’t much point in mechanics like fast travel and maps. However, you have to travel at Graham’s leisurely pace to get around the world of Daventry. As someone with the patience of an ADHD squirrel, this got old pretty fast, especially when you’re trying to seek items to help you progress in the story. The constant quest to work out what to do by going backward and forward  is enough to make anyone go insane.

 

taba                                             There and back again, a knights tale.

 

However, it did give me time to take in the lovely world of Daventry appreciate the graphics which I rather liked. The graphics fit in with the cartoonish element of the world of Daventry, slotting in with the fantasy element where characters can do fantastical things. You have the gallant knight Whisper (voiced by Richard White aka Gaston) pulling shapes that would give anyone whiplash along with dragons and trolls. I think realistic graphics wouldn’t have fit in with the tone of the script or graphics to well. It also allows it have that sort of timeless quality that the first Rayman achieved by choosing the cartoonish element.

Also, when an item is gone it’s gone. Sometimes this is to prompt the player to use their brains and work it out. Other times it’s the Narrator (King Graham) getting annoyed at certain items being overused. I wouldn’t say it’s too much of a flaw but it gets a little annoying at times. Graham is also constantly carrying a bow with him but you can’t use it unless the game says you can. I suppose that each item serves its purpose and needs to go so the player doesn’t have an easy way out.

Now, I may gush about the writing for this entire paragraph so bare with me. I love the writing. Especially the puntastic dialogue of old Graham. Even Graham’s opponents have explored depth to them fit into a game met to be played in an hour.

Acorn (Michael-Leon Wooley) is the stereotypical big, strong man until you find out he has a pet squirrel and greatly enjoys knitting.

Whisper (full name Walter Harris Ignatius Sally Percival Eduardo Ramon Jr. the Third of Modesto) is a gallant knight who portrays himself as a hero though he truth he is scared of the dark and becomes upset at people who are unkind to him.

 

whsiper                             No one poses like Gaston, no wears shiny armour like Gaston.

 

Achaka (also Michael-Leon Wooley) is a stern man from a foreign country but shows kindness towards Graham despite his emotionally, detached exterior.

Manny, however, starts off seeming like he is up to something once he requests the player forge a secret alliance with him. He is suspicious right from the start.

All of them start of as a trope before swiftly subverting the mannerisms and becoming Graham’s friend. Even the background characters fun to be around, including badass blacksmith Amaya Blackstone (Zelda  who can handle herself and ain’t afraid of no wolves. The first episode has to grab the player and make them care about the characters involved which I feel like A Knight to Remember succeeded in doing.

 

ab                                                  ‘Call me if you need saving.’

 

Overall I thought that the first episode was a very well put together game with a few minor issues. It made me want to not pause and finish it. If you are anything like me, I went back to play it again and see what the alternative choices yielded for me. I would highly recommend playing it.

 

4/5

 

Next Episode will be: Rumble Without A Cause.

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