The adventures with Graham conclude in the final installment of Sierra’s resurrected King’s Quest episodic series with King’s Quest Chapter Five: The Good Knight! While not the action-packed last chapter I was expecting, it was certainly a somber one. There were no twists, turns, or any of the clever puns I’ve come to love from the King of Daventry. However, fans do learn a shocking lesson by the end of this phenomenal episode.
The story picks up where Chapter Four: Snow Place Like Home left off with Gwen going to her grandfather to talk about his letter. It turns out he’d recently made changes to the rules of Daventry that allowed an heir to be picked who was female, instead of limiting it to only the male side of the family.
Gwen is rightfully upset about the news; not because she doesn’t want to rule the kingdom (who wouldn’t?), but because she wants her grandfather to live, even insisting there must be something that can help him hold on just a little longer. Graham comforts his beloved granddaughter and tells her there’s nothing to be done…though he does have one more story left to tell her.
He launches into the story of his final adventure and at first all seems well with the aged king. Graham is older now with gray hair and a beard, yet despite his age still has the hot blood of an adventurer. He ventures out from his castle in search of a quest, but during this point in his re-telling significant differences compared to earlier episodes begin to appear. Large, white gaps appear in Graham’s story world as he loses focus on the finer details of his kingdom.
During one sequence Graham starts to tell Gwen he can make ‘improvements’ to his stories. Asking her if she knew trolls rode rats and whether the lady blacksmith in the township needed a husband. Gwen reassures her grandfather his stories are just fine the way they are, but he doesn’t appear to be listening to her.
While I enjoyed the opening scenes of the new chapter, the pacing from there takes a turn. While past chapters of King’s Quest were rife with puzzles, they never felt overly complicated. They were challenging, sure, but never to the point of being ridiculously overwhelming. Here I encountered puzzles that dealt with rhymes, finding keys, and having to run back and forth between areas from the first chapter.
The puzzles themselves weren’t a major issue, but their range in difficulty varied considerably. There were times I would become stuck trying to figure out if I needed to retrieve an item from another area or figure out the right color sequence of a picture. When I came across hints in the game they could either be helpful or downright confusing. Eventually, my puzzle-addled brain more or less figured out how to get through the majority of these strange tasks so I could progress with the story.
Throughout the adventure, The King’s Quest series has always nailed atmosphere. Nothing is ever just handed to the player on a silver platter, but rather hinted at and given life through the environment. Yet here, while I was solving puzzles and gathering items, I had a sense there was something ‘off’ about entire kingdom.
I couldn’t place my finger on it at first until I realized how quiet the world of Daventry had become. There was no background music, no characters running around, and even Graham had become oddly silent. The friends I had made in previous chapters were completely absent, a strong indication they had probably passed away at some point.
Despite how silent this world had become, the environment just drew me in. The Kingdom of Daventry had entered the autumn season so there were hues of red, gold, and orange scattered throughout the world. This choice in scenery could be alluding to the end of Graham’s life since it’s the season where the world ‘dies’ in a sense.
The voice acting throughout the chapter surprised me in the depth of emotion expressed in each character. Hearing Gwen speak with her grandfather, insisting there has to be a way to save him is heart-breaking. She loves her grandfather and not ready to lose him – or his stories – just yet.
I deeply appreciated how the subject of death was handled throughout, too. Death, especially a meaningful one, can be hard to convey for even the best of video games. King’s Quest takes the subject matter and treats it with an adult, but heartfelt tone. At every step I knew Graham’s death was imminent, but even this was handled with care and the respect it deserved.
Experiencing the loss of such an iconic character truly felt as if I was losing a dear friend. It’s clear we’re not just playing through an adventure, but experiencing the life story of the man who’s lived life to the fullest. The emotional tension, environments, and pretty much everything about King’s Quest make for a truly stunning experience; Chapter Five: The Good Knight is a proper and thoughtful concluding chapter to a series much worth exploring.