In the game shops of the mid ’90s there was one name you knew you could trust: Sierra On-Line. Their summit logo was the stamp of approval that PC gamers swore by with games like Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight, and The Incredible Machine in their repertoire. One of their games in particular stands out in my mind. The story of King Graham and his family of adventuring royalty was a large part of my childhood and when I heard they were relaunching King’s Quest into an episodic series starting with King’s Quest Chapter One: A Knight to Remember, I knew I had to be the one to review it.
The game is narrated by the elderly King Graham (Christopher Lloyd) who is telling his granddaughter Gwendolyn (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) about his adventures, including how he first became a knight of Daventry. Characters, puzzles, and plot points from the original King’s Quest games are either referenced or re-imagined, with a particularly frightening encounter with the dragon from King’s Quest I. While the predecessors were all point-and-click adventure games, the new King’s Quest is controlled from the third person with the keyboard. The mouse is only used to make menu selections or for the newly added rail shooting scenes. Quick time events rear their ugly heads like many modern games, but at least it’s well done.
Episode One concerns itself with how young King Graham, then just Graham, first arrived in Daventry to become a knight by competing in a tournament of strength, speed, and agility. Four other warriors, Acorn AKA Sir Cumference, Whisper, Achoka, and Manny (Wallace Shawn), have also arrived in Daventry to compete. Graham must complete puzzles, fight enemies, and explore an island of fantastic beasts in order to best his fellow competitors. Occasionally Graham will be given a series of three options on how to proceed in the story, each one relying on either bravery, compassion, or intelligence to solve a problem. These decisions will carry over to each subsequent episode to influence the story.
Instead of the old hand made pixel-art graphics of yesteryear, 2015’s King Quest uses cell-shaded 3D models much like Telltale’s The Walking Dead or Tales from the Borderlands. Many developers in the past have used cell-shading as a crutch to make decent looking games rather easily, but The Odd Gentlemen, the new developers of King’s Quest, have managed to create some very beautiful scenes and skyboxes. The characters themselves are well animated and all of the knights manage to convey a wide range of emotions while wearing full plate armor, which is pretty impressive.
Those who have played King’s Quest games in the past may remember the rather disappointing voice acting and amateur script writing, but rest assured, with the incredible voice actors lending their talent to the already great script, this reboot of the franchise is possibly the strongest yet. There were also several incredibly funny jokes that came from out of nowhere that had me laughing within the first half-hour. Activision, now owners of Sierra, took a chance on The Odd Gentlemen, a small studio based in Los Angeles, California, and their investment paid off big time.
If you were never a huge adventure game fan in the ’90s, and even if you weren’t even born yet, you should still take the time to check out the new King’s Quest Chapter One: A Knight to Remember. I found it one of the series’ best and a must play for anyone who enjoys a good story-based PC game. The first episode is available now for $9.99 or you can purchase the entire season which will unlock all five episodes as they become available, as well as a playable epilogue for $39.99. Take a chance as I’m certain this is one Quest you’ll enjoy embarking on.