Some of our younger readers may not know that King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember is based on the classic Sierra King’s Quest series first released back in 1984. Times are different now, as Sierra no longer exists as a separate company (it’s now a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard), and the King’s Quest series went through some not so great iterations (in my personal opinion) before being shut down in 1998 with the release of King’s Quest VII: Mask of Eternity to mixed reviews. Flash forward to 2015 with the release of King’s Quest, an episodic adventure series by developers The Odd Gentlemen.
However, the idea of an episodic adventure is not original to these developers; Telltale Games had rights to the game in the early 2010’s and planned on releasing the game on their familiar episodic model. After Telltale Games cancelled the game, Activision Blizzard passed the reigns to The Odd Gentlemen. Enough backstory? Good. However, don’t feel that you need to know all of that to get into this game. But if King Graham is going to tell you the backstory of his life, why not give some on the series itself?
A Song of Knights and Fire
King’s Quest begins with a prologue that introduces the core mechanics and tone of the game. You control the character Graham with the joystick for movement, and he only requires one button to perform an action. It’s about as close to the old, simplistic point-and-click system as you can get. You are prompted when you can perform an action in the environment, to which each one has a very specific purpose. The game is separated into the prologue and the very large main story, where you learn the tale of how a young Graham became the brave Sir Graham of Daventry. No spoilers here on the story, because that is the main point of these episodic games, and heck if I know what is going to happen in the next few releases!
The graphics look like a digital storybook; colorful, hard lines accent the character and objects, but they’re not quite cel-shaded. Character animations and movement are entertaining, and the world responds to you. When I was stumped on a certain puzzle or order of actions, I found myself just looking around the screen in an odd delight, not hitting the pause button to contemplate my next move. You can find a video of that exact moment below.
The music and score are excellent. The voice acting is stellar. Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future and The Addam’s Family narrates the story, and voices the older King Graham. Josh Keaton, who is a veteran of video game voice over work (Spyro, Spiderman, Jak & Daxter to name a few) voices the young Graham, and a cast that includes Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants), Wallace Shawn (the game does have a bit of Princess Bride-esque feel to it), Zelda Williams (Legend of Korra), and actress Maggie Elizabeth Jones. These folks bring the characters to life, and really immerse you into the story.
King’s Quest is an adventure game, and with it come puzzles to solve in order to advance the story. These puzzles aren’t very tough, but something they do require is forethought. I repeatedly found myself one step in front of or one step behind what I should be doing at any given moment. As frustrating as that is, you get great feedback from our narrator.
Trying to use the hatchet on the pumpkin? Old King Graham will pipe in and say no way did I do that (this is all paraphrased by the way!). Reaching for an object without the proper tool? Old King Graham will tell of how he messed up some poor couples future meal. This also help you in the dying department, as you can make the wrong choice which will send Graham to his death. However, say you pull the wrong lever and it smashes you into the wall? Old King Graham says that’s what would have happened if I pulled the wrong one, but you know I didn’t do that. The game resets to that exact same moment, giving you another chance to pull the right one.
The bottom line (so far)
All of these excellent pieces culminate to make a great story, which I would argue is the most important part of these episodic games. At this point in time, however, it is hard to conclude what the overall story is going to be, so I will only be rating it for this episode (let’s hope it doesn’t take a dive in the next iteration). After my 8-ish hour run though of the game (PS4 won’t tell you how long you were in-game), I am now invested in learning about what’s in store next for Graham. The episode wraps up in a nice bow, and even gives you foreshadowing into the next episode (if you find it)! The only other episodic series I have played through is the amazing The Walking Dead Telltale series. I do, however, have high hopes for the return of Graham in the next episode of King’s Quest.
What a knight to remember
Story (thus far) - 8/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Design - 9/10
A Knight to Remember is an excellent start to the King's Quest series, and here is to hoping that it really takes off in the next episode!