King's Quest (2015 video game)
|Developer(s)||The Odd Gentlemen|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
King's Quest is an episodic video game series developed by The Odd Gentlemen and published by Activision under the Sierra Entertainment brand name for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It is a new reboot and re-imagining of the long-running King's Quest series. While it is an adventure game like the previous games in the series, the interface is not fully point-and-click (the PC version only uses point-and-click for the dialogue and first person scenes).
The game is one of several attempts at resurrecting or rebooting the King's Quest franchise since 1998, and its first chapter was released some 32 years after King's Quest I. The new chapters are seen as neither a remake nor necessarily a sequel but a "re-imagining" (the original games are considered to be part of the canon of the new series, as each chapter will take place between those games, but previous games may be reinterpreted in completely new ways).
Unlike the classic King's Quest video games, the new King's Quest is not a point-and-click adventure. Instead, it is an adventure game that tasks players to control Graham, who ventures to different places to become a knight. The movement of Graham can be completely controlled by players. According to Matt Korba, the game's creative director, the game's controls focuses on "one-button context." As a result, the game does not have any complicated interfaces or controls. Throughout the game, players can interact with different objects in the environment. For instance, players can pick up, gather, and inspect different scenery items. They can switch to first-person perspective when inspecting them.
The game is narrated by the old Graham and his granddaughter Gwendolyn. Players' actions in the game change the narrative. For instance, performing certain actions unlocks additional dialogue. When players make wrong decisions and die, Graham replies with phrases such as "That's what would have happened if I did that", before players re-spawn. Players also make decisions throughout the game that are divided into three different approaches, bravery, wisdom, and compassion. Actions performed by players have consequences and impact the game's story, and as a result, change the game's overall experience. Most of these choices are game play-based. According to Korba, all the choices made by Graham are heroic, and there is no way for players to build a "bad" Graham.
The first section of the game is linear, i.e., levels open sequentially. Players are free to explore levels, and the game does not feature any prescribed or predetermined paths. Players can also use a variety of methods to complete their objectives, and are tasked to solve various puzzles in the game, even though there are no fixed solutions to these puzzles. Players can also have conversations with anyone in the game. The game features branching dialogue. In addition, the game features some action sequences, quick-time events, and on-rail platform elements.
In King's Quest, King Graham shares his previous adventures with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn. It is through these tales that Gwendolyn learns about the life led by her grandfather.
Along with new stories, the series re-imagines certain events, elements and backstories from previous games. Some of Graham's backstory even differs from that given in Sierra's previous material. Rather than having grown up in Daventry, he is now an outsider that has recently come to the land. The main tale of Chapter I, according to Graham, is from the time when he was but a lad, before he was a knight, and before he came to Daventry for the first time from Llewdor. He has only read about Daventry from travel guides he used to read as a child, and could not wait to see its famous landmarks for himself (the kingdom is reimagined as a bustling walled city surrounding Castle Daventry, where as in the original game the castle was a lonely keep, surrounded by mostly wilderness).
Classic games as well as The King's Quest Companion are reused for references and reimagined events including places from the expanded universe. Chapter 1's prologue reimagines events from King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown and focuses on the Mirror of the three treasures as the main treasure Edward sent Graham on to become king of Daventry (as it had been the only treasure stolen from him), the events of the dragon's lair from the King's Quest I are completely reimagined as an action sequence involving being chased by the dragon, and having to make a final choice on how to distract the dragon to escape back up the well to the surface. Later chapters put further focus on the mirror, and point out that he went on separate adventures throughout his life for other treasures as well (including the Shield and Chest), and wants to go on adventures to find even more lost treasures of Daventry even in his old age to save his legacy.
The main is about Graham coming to the kingdom to take part in a Knight Tournament to become a Knight of Daventry, and the winner will also be in the running to become the next king. The story involves Graham having to defeat each of the other knights at various challenges. He befriends one of the knights Achaka, who teaches him how to properly use his bow, but witnesses his death to the dragon (Achaka is often seen to be his 'best' and lost friend throughout the series, even as much as seeing his ghost in the final chapter). Ultimately he defeats the last knight Manny at a game of Wits, and banishes the evil knight from the kingdom.
Chapter 3: Once Upon A Climb completely reimagines the events from King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne by taking the story of the princess trapped in the tower by an evil witch Hagatha, but now there are two princesses trapped in the same tower, trapped along with the witch who is herself a princess as well. Graham himself becomes trapped with them in the tower, and has to figure out how to escape. The player ends up choosing between the two princesses (both who will end up the 'canon' Valanice for the player based on whoever is chosen) to be his wife. The synopsis suggests that original story players may remember was only a fairy tale, and that the new series tells the real and more complicated story.
Chapter 4: Snow Place Like Home reimagined elements of King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human. In the end Manny is defeated again including the details of the events of how Alexander was stolen with the Royal Family actually directly witnessing it happening and cannot stop it (in the original story it is said Alexander had 'disappeared', and no one knew what had happened to him or who had taken him), to elements of Alexander's stay in Llewdor that Manannan fled there soon after the kidnapping with Alexander moved into a mansion there and taught multiple slaves along Alexander and Mordon (later "Mordack") magic in preparation to conquer Daventry, and replace the king with Alexander on the throne. Manny was still a harsh master, leading to Alexander to escape by turning his master into a cat, and returning to a rather peaceful Daventry (no dragons rampaging the land). Alexander entered the castle not long after the Royal Family (including a rather safe Rosella) finishing up sorting its laws, his sister and Graham had played a fun game of don't blink, and a discussion that they should go on vacation over the winter holiday. They are surprised by Alexander's return, and ultimately decide to go on that trip and take him with them to get to know him better. They ultimately end up traveling to a mysterious Ice Labyrinth and discover that one of the two princesses (the one whom the player did not choose) had become Icebella (reimagining some of the details from King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder). This Icebella is ultimately killed by Manny (in the form of a Sphinx). Manny is defeated again by Alexander, who again uses a magic cookie to transform him back into a cat. In the end one of Icebella's ice guardian creations picks up her crown and declares herself the new Icebella (foreshadowing the Icebella Graham would later encounter during his quest in King's Quest V). Mordon ends dropping his slave name, and changes his name to Mordack further foreshadowing King's Quest V. Some of Alexander's dialogue also foreshadows events of King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, such as him mentioning he saw in a crystal ball that he would encounter a minotaur in a labyrinth in the future, and that he is into women with olive skin, and green eyes.
Chapter 5: The Good Knight takes place late in Graham's life as an elderly man. He has one last encounter with Manny, a chance to prove he is still sound of mind, strong. There are further nods to reimagined events of King's Quest V such that rather than stonework, the location where Graham and Mordack had their magical duel had wooden floor boards, which he hid under after casting the fire spell and escaped. There are also some reimagined nods to King's Quest VI material as well, including the idea that Graham is thinking about his death, and traveling to the Realm of the Dead to go before Samhain (rather than Daventry's afterlife Dimension of Death from King's Quest: Mask of Eternity). There is even a moment during the story that it shows the gates to Realm of the Dead in classic VGA form. Graham is forced to save his kingdom, but is poisoned in the process, and Manny tries to take out his final revenge on the king, but not before Mordon/Mordack has pity on Graham (as he had been manipulated and abused by Manannan as well throughout his life) and saves the king. The former rivals become friends.
Graham's appearance is reimagined in the series throughout the timeline, as he begins skinny, gains muscles in Chapter 3. While fresh face, slowly grows stubble, to a beard, to a long grey beard at the end of his life, to show his progression over time.
The present events take place in the last weeks or months of Graham's life while he is bedridden from the poison in Chapter 5. He is telling several of the stories of his life to his grand daughter to teach her lessons, and hopefully make her a better Queen when he passes on. He changes the laws so that his Granddaughter can be the heir to the throne. By the last story his mind is starting to go, and he starts seeing the ghost of his long lost friend Achaka. He starts forgetting many of the details of his story, having to have Gwendolyn fill in the gaps whenever possible, and even put together the pieces to tell the final outcome of the story. That night he passes away but left a letter for his granddaughter to read, telling her to find her own legacy, and not live off of his.
In the Epilogue, Gwendolyn presumably now Queen (though it's not explained what happens with Queen Valanice, but she is still living in the castle) goes on her very first adventure in the kingdom, on a hunt for yarblesnoofs (a turkey-like lizard/dinosaur creature). During her adventure she meets and befriends Taskia, the granddaughter of Achaka, who had come to Daventry to defeat a dragon to avenge her grandfather. The dragon turns out to only be a baby, and is innocent. They end up befriending the dragon, and head back to the castle.
There were multiple attempts to reboot the franchise following 1998's King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, none of which went past the announcement or concept stages. In August 2014, Activision announced that they had revived the Sierra brand and had passed development responsibilities for a new game to The Odd Gentlemen. Due to its length, the game was split into multiple chapters with a staggered release schedule. The script for the first chapter alone was 640 pages long, and included branching paths, Easter eggs, narration, object use and interaction, and dialogue trees. Each chapter of the series was longer and more complex than some similar episodic series, such as those made by Telltale Games. The game includes vocal performances by actors Christopher Lloyd, Wallace Shawn, Cherami Leigh, Tom Kenny, Josh Keaton, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, and Zelda Williams.
The game was released in five parts in 2015 and 2016, with an optional playable Epilogue only included in King's Quest: The Complete Collection edition. If the first series with Graham does well, future King's Quest series (similar to "seasons") by The Odd Gentlemen would follow other members of the royal family.
|Chapter||Directed by||Written by||Episode release date|
|Chapter I: "A Knight to Remember"||Matt Korba||Matt Korba, Additional Writing Lindsey Rostal||July 28, 2015|
|Graham's journey to knighthood begins in this chapter. It takes place before the original King's Quest as memories of the present day Graham (who is now aged), narrated to his granddaughter Gwendolyn.|
|Chapter II: "Rubble Without a Cause"||Matt Korba||Matt Korba, Additional Writing Lindsey Rostal||December 15, 2015|
|Graham recounts his first adventure as the newly crowned king of Daventry saving the kingdom from invading goblins.|
|Chapter III: "Once Upon a Climb"||Matt Korba||Matt Korba, Additional Writing Lindsey Rostal||April 26, 2016|
|Graham recounts the tale of how he met his beloved Valanice. Climbing a tower, Graham finds two princesses - Vee and Neese - trapped by the witch Hagatha.|
|Chapter IV: "Snow Place Like Home"||Matt Korba||Matt Korba, Additional Writing Lindsey Rostal||September 27, 2016|
|After Graham's son, Alexander, escapes his life of enslavement to Manannan they celebrate by taking the family on vacation. However, they find the resort has been transformed into a snowy palace of lethal traps by an icy queen and a sphinx.|
|Chapter V: "The Good Knight"||Matt Korba||Matt Korba, Additional Writing Lindsey Rostal||October 25, 2016|
|As the elderly King Graham reaches the end of his life he has enough time to tell Gwendolyn about his final confrontation with Manannan.|
|Epilogue||Matt Korba||Lindsey Rostal||December 20, 2016|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2017)
|Chapter I: A Knight to Remember||(PC) 82|
|Chapter II: Rubble Without a Cause||(PC) 67|
|Chapter III: Once Upon a Climb||(PC) 78|
|Chapter IV: Snow Place Like Home||(PS4) 67|
|Chapter V: The Good Knight||(PS4) 78|
Chapter I: A Knight to Remember
Chapter I: A Knight to Remember received positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 82/100 based on 23 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 77/100 based on 22 reviews and the Xbox One version 80/100 based on 26 reviews.
Chapter II: Rubble Without a Cause
Chapter II: Rubble Without a Cause received mixed reviews. Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 67/100 based on 7 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 68/100 based on 12 reviews and the Xbox One version 71/100 based on 11 reviews.
Chapter III: Once Upon A Climb
Chapter III: Once Upon A Climb received positive reviews. Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 78/100 based on 4 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 79/100 based on 9 reviews and the Xbox One version 80/100 based on 8 reviews.
Chapter IV: Snow Place Like Home
Chapter IV: Snow Place Like Home received generally mixed reviews. Chris Carter from Destructoid gave this chapter a 9/10 for being "A hallmark of excellence. It may have some flaws, but they are negligible to what is otherwise a supreme title", while Chandler Wood from PlayStation Lifestyle had some mixed feelings about the chapter, giving it 5.5 being happy with "Some great cultural references and lines/Seeing Graham continue to grow" but generally disliking the "Cold and dull environment/Boring and dated puzzle design/Lack of meaningful choices/Underplays capabilities showcased in prior chapters."
Chapter V: The Good Knight
Chapter V: The Good Knight received generally positive reviews. Chris Carter from Destructoid gave this chapter 8.5/10 for an "Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth most people's time and cash." Chandler Wood from PlayStation Lifestyle was pleased with this chapter this time around, giving the game 8/10, praising the "Deep subjects of mortality, life accomplishments, and what we leave behind/Callbacks to King's Quest through the years/Conclusion that pulls the whole saga into context and finishes it out nicely" although being unhappy with the "sudden memory loss" and "some puzzle design is flawed".
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- Porter, Matt (March 14, 2016). "King's Quest Chapter 3 Coming Next Month". IGN. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
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- Carter, Chris (July 28, 2015). "Review: King's Quest: A Knight To Remember". Archived from the original on July 30, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
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- Samit Sarkar. "King's Quest finally gets second chapter in mid-December, here's why it took so long". Polygon. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016.
- Makuch, Eddie (May 11, 2015). "King's Quest Revival Has a Seriously Impressive Voice Cast". GameSpot. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
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- "King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 31, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
- "King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 16, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
- "King's Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without a Cause Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 21, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
- "King's Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without a Cause Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 15, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
- "King's Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without a Cause Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
- "King's Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- "King's Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- "King's Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- "King's Quest Chapter 4: Snow Place Like Home Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
- "King's Quest Chapter 5: The Good Knight Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
- Released under the Sierra Entertainment brand name