King’s Quest has come a long way since its original debut in 1984, and traveling here from decades past, it brought with it a bit of magic.
Here we have The Odd Gentlemen, a small dev team from Los Angeles, spearheading the revival of King’s Quest with the legendary Sierra Entertainment at their backs. Resurrecting the title’s textbook humor, puzzles, and wonder, their work is looking to bring back the classic adventure game in a spectacular fashion.
The first chapter of the five-part series, A Knight to Remember, follows a young Graham of Daventry through his awkward pre-knight years (don’t we all know ’em). The story is narrated by an older King Graham who, in coaching his granddaughter, Gwendolyn through her first fencing tournament, winds up recounting a large story of his youth. Classic grandfather tactic.
The demo follows young Graham through a few introductory puzzles. With the title moving from PC point-and-click to consoles, the interface has been re imagined to fit controllers, and the gameplay at each juncture specially selected to evoke the proper emotions from each scenario. When Graham is meant to feel bullied, the puzzles and interactions are all designed to edge him out, framing him as an outsider.
Graham is given command prompts as he approaches objects, and can choose his actions accordingly. The real fun of the game is where the multiple directions and approaches to each problem will lead.
For instance, Graham could be plunked into the middle of a forked road, and the narrator will recall that he promptly ventured East. If the player feels wily and takes for the West, the narrator will make a snide comment as to why he did NOT go West. Try again, and the narrator will remark with fresh, vexed hint that his journey led him “EAST.” Try again, if you dare, and the narrator will be utterly confounded by your ineptitude, and suddenly recall a strong gust of wind that forcefully propelled him eastward. While the demo-er only shoved his nose westward a few times, there were still multiple rejections awaiting should the player continue to prod his feathered cap where it doesn’t belong.
And that’s the true magic of this game – how much fun one can have just making mistakes. Countless times, the game’s wit shines through brighter than any other title at E3.
Instantly apparent in King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember, aside from its titular pun, is the magnitude of effort put into this creation. The Odd Gentlemen show a gentlemanly respect for the original King’s Quest series on multiple fronts, from easter eggs, to visuals, and to the subtle role of player choice. For example, references to the original series are abound, whether in the mindful use of the magic mirror in the inventory interface, the inventory sound from King’s Quest 6 making a comeback, or the theme to King’s Quest 5 chiming wistfully in a small meadow. Speaking of music, this King’s Quest utilizes more music than many large games, according to the developer.
The team worked tirelessly to incorporate the charm of the original King’s Quest art, physically printing out meshes of the world, having an artist watercolor them, and then scanning them back into the game. The team is aware this surely wasn’t the easiest way to go about things, but in art as in other aspects of this title, no piece of heart was spared in creating this generation’s King’s Quest adventure.
Throughout the story, player choice will subtly alter Graham’s tale by embarking on either the path of bravery, wisdom, or compassion. These choices aren’t in your face types that present a huge decision and later show obvious consequences. The effects of each action will quietly lead the player through a unique saga tailored to their chosen adventure. Replay value is certainly no question with so many doors, large and small, to explore.
Even minuscule narrative choices will lead players through unique moments, each painstakingly fleshed out, despite the fact that only a fraction of Grahams will actually ever see it. With attention to every detail and care for every angle of the experience, this iteration of King’s Quest thankfully shows no triage. There’s a team behind this game as devoted to this series as the fans.
Its voice acting is steps above and beyond, with famous names such as Richard White (Gaston from Beauty and the Beast) and Wallace Shawn (Vizzini from The Princess Bride) making appearances. Shawn happens to voice Manny, a small knight with a big attitude who befriends our protagonist.
Manny shares one piece of wisdom with young Graham: “Those who use their minds over their biceps are never woven into the tapestry of time.” No disrespect to mini-knight, but King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember, will surely reach such feats on heart and mind alone, and find itself this generation’s great adventure.