New King’s Quest Footage Still Shows A Platformer, But It Seems It Could Be A More Traditional Adventure

The return of King’s Quest does seem strange. Activision’s decision to revive the Sierra name, and then use it as a sort of faux-independent label, was accompanied by the news that the PB Winterbottom devs The Odd Gentlemen would resurrect the King’s Quest license [official site]. But look, see, here’s the thing: The King’s Quest games, with the exception of VI, were pretty bloody awful. Everyone seems to have forgotten that. Anyway, we’ve some more in-game footage of the new entry that doesn’t look anything like an adventure game. But have seen some other footage that shows a very different looking more traditional game.

We already know it has a strong voice cast, and beautiful hand-drawn art, but Activision seem to have gone out of their way to hide how it will actually play. Previous videos have shown platforming, running around, and no pointing nor clicking. The new trailer only further suggests that the nostalgia for the license doesn’t extend to a genre. It again looks like a straight platformer in this latest footage.

All information about the game studiously avoids mentioning the genre, while alluding to “humour, puzzles, exploration”. But we’ve seen some B-roll footage that, while unhelpfully silent, shows a very different perspective of the game. In it, King Graham walks calmly around fixed backgrounds, picking up objects, interacting with the scenery, and seeming much more like a chap in an adventure game. Most odd that this is disguised in all the trailers.

It all matters very little, of course. Bearing in mind most adult gamers will have never played a King’s Quest game – indeed a huge proportion of adult gamers were born after they stopped making them – and those who did should really remember how crap they were, only very few will care how much it deviates from the series.

It’s interesting that it’s to be in five chapters, which would of course have been the model Telltale would have gone with if they’d been able to work out a way to make the games. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s an audience for such a nostalgia-led project.

17 Comments

  1. phlebas says:

    I didn’t get into the King’s Quest games the way I did Space Quest, but I wouldn’t have said the ‘classic’ ones were downright bad apart from 5. 5 was pretty (for the time) but absolutely sucked to play.
    Silver Lining was pretty good, though, wasn’t it?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      King’s Quest 1-3 were garbage, though 3 had some interesting ideas. Like collecting stuff to cast spells. And having certain restrictions and needing to be sneaky. All great ideas, hampered in no small part by the awful climbing sequence.

      King’s Quest 4-6 are all legitimately good games, though I’d expect 4 and 5 don’t hold up that well for various reasons. 6 is a legit classic, good stuff all around. 7 is garbage, 8 is what the fuck no stop.

      I really don’t know what to think about this new game. Platformers can be ok (I liked Trine), but the style of this…eh. We’ll see.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        To clarify, the real problem with KQ5 is the bit where if you don’t throw a shoe at a cat, you simply lose the game later on. If you’re aware of that puzzle, I don’t think there are many serious problems with the game. Remove that, and it’s suddenly a good game. There’s one other lose-the-game-later trap, but it’s pretty clearly flagged. Maybe I’m forgetting something.

        • phlebas says:

          There’s a resource problem that would be forgivable in a text adventure where replaying can be arbitrarily fast, but that kind of load-a-much-earlier-save-and-replay action is a pain when you have to wait around for someone to do the walking. And there were a couple of pixel hunts and a great big tedious desert.

        • Yserbius says:

          (From memory)

          If you get kidnapped by the bandits before you help the ants, you’re screwed.
          If you leave the dungeon without using the fishhook on the mouse hole, you’re screwed.
          If you go past the snake without finishing every puzzle in town and the desert, you’re screwed.
          If you escape the desert treasure vault without either the bottle or the coin, you’re screwed.
          If you give the eagle the pie, you’re screwed.
          If you eat the pie when you get hungry, you’re screwed.
          If you get rescued from the roc before taking the shiny thing in the nest you’re screwed.
          If you so much as see the cat in the castle, you’re screwed.

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            Andy_Panthro says:

            This is why for adventure games you always saved your game regularly, and in different save slots! (also, the games could usually be beaten in less than an hour or two if you knew the puzzle solutions, so replaying a section didn’t actually take that much time).

            @Yserbius:

            Almost all correct, except I’m fairly sure you can’t get past the snake until you’ve done everything in the first area (the item you need isn’t available until then). Also the cat (Manannan, the bad guy from KQ3), has to be seen and dealt with to get maximum points.

  2. Yserbius says:

    Whilst it’s too early to say, there was about 30 seconds of gameplay in the trailer and only five seconds looked like platforming. I highly doubt that they will do away with adventuring all together, especially with adventure games making a bit of a comeback.

    And, despite how much I loved the games, I reluctantly agree with you partially on how bad some of the old KQ games were. But not entirely.

    They were still very much a product of their times and were very innovative for the period that they were made. The main gripes now would probably be overly ridiculous puzzles (like the KQI “guess my name” puzzle whose answer was “rumplestiltskin” encoded as an atbash cypher) and parts that can cause you to not be able to complete the game (KQV was notorious for this, despite shining in virtually everything else). Sure KQVI was undoubtedly the best, but I don’t see it as fair to call the rest “bad” games. (for the purposes of everything we hold holy, KQVIII doesn’t exist). Even KQVII was a pretty good adventure especially since they did away with a lot of the “hard for the sake of being hard” puzzles.

    Then we can start on the Space Quest, Eco Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Conquest, and Quest for Glory games. No one looks that critically back at Lucas Arts. Sadly, it’s only Sierra that, in hindsight, produced some really innovative yet mediocre games. It seems that Lucas Arts took that innovation and made good games, whilst Sierra kept churning out meh.

    • Stragman says:

      I totally agree with you, they were still very much a product of their times. And most of these games came before the ones from Lucas Arts. Some people just can´t accept that “dying” is part of the fun in these games like Space Quest.

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    Risingson says:

    It’s not the dying, it is the game engine: Lucasarts games, starting with (say) Indy3, were extremely robust thanks to ScummVM that, for what I have been told, even threw a warning when it detected a dead end, a red herring, any of the adventures most annoying stuff. Sierra games, earlier or not, are a pain to play today with a few exceptions, and I have tried recently to play a lot of them. And there is no doubt about it: KQ games, except for the sixth one, are rubbish. Because Roberta Williams was an awful adventure designer.

    Al Lowe was a fantastic game designer. The Coles were wonderful game designer. Jim Walls was not, but he had a lot, A LOT of help with the game design of his games. But Sierra games are buggy, extremely. When they are good, as in the Al Lowe detail of describing EVERYTHING and having a text for EVERYTHING, they were really good. But they often were not, sadly.

    And you can say the same about Westwood, about Divide By Zero, about Revolution, about Microsoft, about most of the companies that designed adventures: their engine was poorer, and the user experience is much worse.

  4. Wagrid says:

    Major error in this story: VI was awful too. I actually like V the best – it’s got a charm to it. VI actually thought it was telling a serious love story (see ‘Girl in the Tower’ for evidence).

    • Wagrid says:

      Mind you, this doesn’t mean I don’t like King’s Quest – I do! But I don’t think that they were any good.

  5. acheron says:

    Assuming we don’t count 8, KQ7 came out in, what, 1995? If you weren’t born in 1995 you are not an adult yet.

  6. king0zymandias says:

    The textures are so bad. The color palette is all over the place, looks unnecessarily busy and ugly. Really bad art direction.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    I like the King’s Quest games, flaws and all. Best played with occasional help from a walkthrough to avoid dead ends to be sure, but they were wonderfully charming worlds to explore.

    KQ6 is probably my favourite, but I’m also partial to 3 despite it having the most devious timing-based dead ends. I also really liked the world of 7. KQ1 is pure nostalgia for me as it’s the first game I played, on a green monochrome screen, and my first contact with the English language (with some help from the hintbook)… Move rock. Talk to king.