King’s Quest is poised to launch during July, 2015 with the first of five chapters, “A Knight to Remember.” I had the opportunity to see the latest build and ask questions of developers Bill Linn and Matt Korba during E3 2015, and what I saw has me excited to return to the fairytale kingdom of Daventry.
The new, episodic King’s Quest features King Graham as a grandfather recalling his youthful adventures as a means to offer advice to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn. This structure grants the freedom, from a storytelling standpoint, to visit several time periods throughout the history of the classic King’s Quest series without rebooting. Throughout, the player is granted the option to play out the tales in ways that emphasize different, distinct virtues both in words and in action, so the stories may even be seen as embellishments by Graham, semi-canonical parables that nonetheless allow us to see more of the series’ rich history and settings.
The entire game features subtle nods to the classic King’s Quest titles, from sound effects to leitmotifs to the inherent danger posed by bridges. But “A Knight to Remember” possesses its own charm and humor that requires no prior experience with King’s Quest games to enjoy. All throughout, the aged King Graham (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) narrates the events while Gwendolyn (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) chimes in with her suggestions and encouragement to, usually, try using the hatchet to solve everything. Their banter is simply delightful. Things become particularly entertaining when the player attempts to break sequence, resulting in comically irate narration and, ultimately, acts of nature pushing the player in the proper direction. The freedom to explore is only restricted in amusing ways that the player is encouraged to discover.
That same exploration is also encouraged in other ways. Some of King’s Quest’s puzzles have optional, unofficial solutions that reward ingenuity and diligence. From what I was told, discovering these makes up a portion of the game’s achievements and trophies which are named in the form of riddles leaving the player to puzzle over each one’s meaning. Furthermore, plot-specific puzzles can be approached in different ways that exemplify the three distinct virtues Graham may be trying to impart to his granddaughter. There also comes a point in the game where the order in which the player chooses to tackle the given objectives influences the story and how it unfolds. Through these variances, each play through the game is likely to reveal different perspectives on the events and characters and their own motivations.
As a longtime fan of the King’s Quest series, I had some specific questions for the development team, and the answers are encouraging. “A Knight to Remember” does feature player death, but as it is a story being told by the protagonist, Graham quickly recants his own demise and rewinds the clock a bit. Most significantly, the new series will not feature any dead-end scenarios where completing the game becomes impossible for having missed something. But that doesn’t mean that things will be simplified. Interactive objects will have nested choices, so players shouldn’t expect to be able to click on everything once and have picked up every important item as a result. There are multiple endings, but no tallying of points, and no hammering the player with the suggestion that an occurrence was the direct result of a player choice, good or bad.
King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember, the first of five episodic parts, will arrive July, 2015 as a digital download title for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC.