Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
There was a time, it feels like a million years ago, when the adventure game ruled the earth (or at least the PC). When Telltale Games brought the adventure game back they focused on one of the companies that built themselves on that style of gameplay, LucasArts. They started by reviving classic franchises like Sam & Max and Monkey Island and have since moved on to making games based on everything from The Walking Dead to Borderlands.
But there was another major player in the golden age of adventure games. Alongside LucasArts there was another software company making adventure titles: Sierra. You could identifty Sierra games pretty easily at the time, as they all had the word Quest in the title. While I personally spent more time growing up with Police Quest and Space Quest, King’s Quest predates them all. Now both Sierra, which had been closed down in 2008 by its current owner, Activision, and King’s Quest have returned, and since episodic games are the current standard for the adventure genre, that’s what we have with King’s Quest: Chapter 1— A Knight to Remember.
Return to Daventry
While this series is an all new King’s Quest adventure, it takes much from its ancestors. You play as a knight named Graham who is on a quest for a magic mirror, one of a series of treasures that, if found, will allow him to become king. If you ever played the very first King’s Quest game, this will sound familiar.
The game drops you right into the story.There are a handful of actions you have to take before the story even begins to unfold. Why this is becomes clearer when you realize you’ve been dropped into a flashback. The majority of the game, and by association it appears the majority of the series, is told as the elder King Graham is telling his granddaughter stories about how he became the king.
Interestingly, the story is told out of order. You play through as young Graham in two different stories but you get the idea that the first story is actually the end of the overall tale. The second story takes place before the first. It appears that the story may be linear from this point on, but that is far from guaranteed.
If you’re used to Telltale adventure game mechanics you’ll have some adjusting to do in Kings Quest. While Telltale carries on the “point and click” aspect of classic adventure games, even on consoles, by giving you a cursor to move, King’s Quest does away with the mechanic entirely. Instead you move Graham as you would normally move any other game character, via left analog stick if you’re playing on a console.
When he gets close enough to an object or person to interact, you’ll see an icon, on consoles the same button performs all actions, regardless of what the action actually is. This is only a problem at a couple points where you have two items close together to interact with. It can be difficult to tell which item Graham is going to grab when you press the button, as the icon does not specify what action you’re about to do, just simply that an action will take place..
A Puzzling Adventure
If there’s one thing I’ve missed in the recent Telltale adventure games it’s classic adventure game puzzles. At no point in A Wolf Among Us or Tales From the Borderlands do you have no idea what to do next. Classic adventure games had a structure to them:
1. Find item.
2. Attempt to use item to solve puzzle.
3. Discover this item doesn’t work with that puzzle.
4. Look for another item.
5. Bang head against wall.
6. Find new item.
7. Discover that item doesn’t work either.
8. Try to get both items to interact with each other.
9. Give up because you don’t know if you’re missing the thing you need or if you just can’t figure out how to use the item you have correctly.
10. Come back.
11. Repeat until you figure out that you’re supposed to use the athletic supporter like a slingshot.
While Knight to Remember at first appears to be a similar, linear, story-driven game, it eventually opens up, and fans of classic Sierra titles will begin to feel right at home. While the puzzles are never quite as hard as I remember them being back in the day, you will have those moments when you’re not sure what to do next, or, even more frustrating, when you know exactly what to do next, but you have no idea how to do it. The game is slightly more forgiving however, as there are multiple ways to solve some puzzles so you likely won’t be stuck for too long.
A Cast of Characters
The voice acting in Kings Quest is solid, with a number of voices you’ll recognize including Christopher Lloyd as King Graham and Wallace Shawn as another knight hopeful. You’ll remember Shawn from The Princess Bride. If you haven’t watched that movie 100 times (and what’s wrong with you?) you’ll remember which one he is when you get to the scene that was written as an obvious call back to the movie. Christopher Lloyd also throws in a quick Back to the Future reference, so you’ll want to keep your ears open.
If you need another episodic series to keep you busy between releases from the other episodic series that you’re playing, you can’t go wrong with King’s Quest. The $40 price tag is a little high compared to most episodic game series, but if Episode 1 is any indication you get a lot more content than some of Telltale’s recent episodes, plus there will be an Epilogue chapter which is only available if you purchase the Season Pass.