Sierra was one of the pioneers of early PC gaming and King’s Quest was arguably their most popular series during that early age. The peak of the series – which I would say was 5 and 6 – was a long, long time ago and adventure games have changed drastically over the last twenty-something years. Now it’s 2015 and Sierra has reemerged under Activision and a new, episodic King’s Quest is upon us. The first episode, A Knight to Remember, manages to bring a familiar feeling to classic King’s Quest players while still bringing King Graham into the 21st century.
If you played Telltale’s brand of adventure games, King’s Quest might be a bit of a shock to you. Titles like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us lean heavily on telling an immersive, serious story but lack in true gameplay. King’s Quest, on the other hand, is an adventure game through and through, which surprisingly feels like a breath of fresh air in the genre. Expect to pick up a lot of items and use them in straightforward and not so straightforward ways. You’ll revisit areas and solve puzzles in clever and sometimes wacky ways. There are also newer gameplay mechanics with simple platforming and QTEs for action sequences, which you’ll either like or hate (I’m of the former when it comes to QTEs).
For fans of the original series, A Knight to Remember definitely feels like the proper evolutionary step from those 20 year old games. Many of the puzzles and the way you solve them feel familiar but there are many that simply couldn’t have been done back in that day. My favorite of which was one where you wrap yarn around various pegs in attempt to trip your pursuer. It’s cool to wind the yarn into whatever configuration you desire and it feels incredibly unique. There are also elements of choice woven naturally into the game that affect small elements and change up the order your progress through the game and how it happens. There are also choices that will supposedly have “long reaching effect” that are not witnessed within this episode.
A Knight to Remember is told through a framed narrative, as an aged King Graham, voiced by the spectacular Christopher Lloyd, regales his granddaughter with the various adventures of his younger self. That means you get to hear Doc Brown narrate essentially the entire game, which is certainly a treat. The majority of the first episode revolves on a young Graham as he enters a tournament to become a knight of Daventry. He is tasked to compete in various events, all while outmatched by opponents that are clearly more talented than him. While a little cliche, Graham succeeds through wit, will and sometimes pure luck.
King’s Quest always had a little bit of goofiness to it but A Knight to Remember introduces an entirely new brand of silliness to Daventry. The various characters are well voiced throughout, including the young Graham, whose constant positivity and schoolgirl-esque outbursts steal the show. The entire plot mimics The Princess Bride with feats of strength, speed and brain so it’s only fitting that Wallace Shawn voices a knight of small stature who challenges you to a battle of wit involving potions. The other opponents are fun as well, including a large knight with a pet squirrel hidden in his armor and a knight who loves to boast about himself.
The only real area that King’s Quest disappoints in its controls. This is a game mimicked after Telltale games which means long gone are point and click controls, replaced with WASD keyboard controls. What this really boils down to is that this game is really meant to be played with a controller. As long as you can get over that, you’ll find that everything works perfectly fine. It’s just disappointing that there isn’t any option for classic point and click controls for those surely expecting it from a game like this.
A Knight to Remember is also on the long side from what we’ve come to expect from these episodic adventure games. Expect to get 4-5 hours from your first playthrough, providing a meatier experience that doesn’t really falter at any point throughout. That is, when you are playing as Graham. There is an entire side story revolving around the granddaughter and old King Graham that is severely underdeveloped and just not filled with as much fun and cleverness. I’m sure over the course of the rest of the episodes this will get fleshed out more but here it feels a bit unnecessary, although it’s a very small part of the overall experience.
King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember proves that adventure games have a life beyond the Telltale formula. It offers a retelling of King Graham’s tale that I look forward to seeing evolve throughout the series. It’s refreshing to play an adventure game that features traditional gameplay in addition to a fun story. Plus the bright, cheery world of Daventry is great to experience and the characters are wonderful. Go into it with a bit of nostalgia and a controller in your hand and you will have a great time.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A code for King’s Quest: A Knight To Remember was provided to Pixel Related for review.