The first episode of the newly revitalized King’s Quest series was a surprising return to form for adventure games. It was also able to sprinkle in modern mechanics and ideas to create a splendid mixture of both worlds. Episode 2 manages to one up itself by offering different situation and gameplay mechanics while still sticking to the classic adventure formula.
We continue the storytelling of elderly King Graham regaling his grandchildren of his tales of his younger self. We’ve fast forwarded to the early days of Grahams rule of Daventry. As the new king, we quickly see Graham become overwhelmed by the decisions and responsibilities expected of him. However before actually enacting any royal proclamations, King Graham finds himself kidnapped by goblins.
The entirety of Episode 2 takes place in the goblin dungeons. Not only does Graham find himself down here but so do many of the townfolk that he grew to know in the course of the last episode. Due to a humorous stroke of luck, Graham is given free reign of the prison to fulfill chores that the goblins don’t want to do.
The goal of the episode is, naturally, very simple: escape from prison, along with your friends. Unlike many adventure games, this is not a linear path to escape. Many things in the episode revolve around the passage of time. Graham is given food every morning and can slowly rebuild his strength, which will open new areas he can access and new paths he can take. However you may also choose to give food to the other groups of prisoners, who are in failing health. If they don’t get enough food eventually they will be taken away, unable to help in your escape. So it’s up to you to manage your items and keep everyone healthy, while also getting them items to help you escape.
It’s a very clever system that isn’t quite like anything I’ve played in an adventure game. There are three sets of prisoners you can work with to escape and they will also help you get more food or obtain crucial items. You can aim at only working with one of them or you can try to juggle your limited resources to keep everyone healthy. Even then, try as you might, you still might find yourself failing someone – I know I did.
Visually the game has a delightful appeal, with cartoonish characters and beautiful environments. There are even a couple splashes of 2D animation thrown in a couple of scenes that really nails the storybook style the game is going for.
Rubble Without a Cause utilizes traditional adventure game mechanics with a heavy emphasis on inventory and using items together on the environment to succeed. You also get a dash of Telltale’s style, though, with full voice acting and dialog options at every step. Still, the choices more seem to be affected by your actions rather than dialog choices. I do still wish the old King Graham side of the story received a little more time to grow but it seems like that it’s is being used more as a framing device to tell each episode’s vignettes instead of having its own arc. Only time will tell if that gets more fleshed out.
King’s Quest has become quite a surprise as far as adventure games go. No one would have necessarily suspected that a resurrection of the age old titles would have resulted in anything but mediocrity, especially with the tried and true formula that Telltale has created. However, here sits King’s Quest in its own area of the adventure genre, succeeding at being it’s own style of game. It’s a great mixture of both classic and modern adventure games that is keeping me awaiting the next episode eagerly.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A code for the Season Pass of King’s Quest was provided to Pixel Related for review.