Wot I Think: King’s Quest Ch. 1 – A Knight To Remember

Oh wow.

I really had no idea what to expect of the return of King’s Quest [official site]. The original series were mostly terrible, twee and poorly constructed adventure games, but it had its moments, and certainly found its place in nostalgia. The news of its return after a few abortive efforts seemed like it could bode well, especially with The Odd Gentlemen (PB Winterbottom) behind the wheel. Trailers were confusing, not making it clear if it was an adventure game, platformer, third-person somethinger. But I waited to see. Here’s wot I think:

And wow.

I am struggling to remember a game with a worse first hour.

With no introduction, no explanation, not even a title screen, you’re playing some guy in a stupid hat, standing on a pathway sealed by thorns in every direction but one (how did he get there?). Immediately it becomes apparent the game was built for a controller (and far more likely, a touch screen), the WASD movement confused with pressing Space to interact, Tab for your inventory, and the mouse not involved at all. The only thing you can do at this point is approach a well, and wind down the rope using a handle. By pressing Space/A. Then climb down the rope. By pressing Space/A. Then at the bottom, the prompt to press A appears again, and apparently it’s to look at some gold on the ground beneath you. Walk to a mattress against the wall and press A when prompted, and whoever you are moves it aside. Christopher Lloyd mumbles a couple of sentences about how he remembers that he was looking for something, as if he’d lost his keys while in the recording booth, and then you have to pick between two identical wooden wheels to open a door. By pressing A. Pick the “wrong” one and you instantly die.

Through the door and you have to run down a grey cave corridor while Lloyd tells an unseen little girl about how he ran down a corridor, and then your movement is slowed down as you walk across a precarious rope bridge. A rope bridge you can’t fall off.

And you realise you’re its puppet. A wheel needs another spoke, so you press A when the prompt appears by the only thing in the room with which you may interact, which causes a dragon’s attention to be aroused. Lloyd narrates that he hid, so I stood still, and the game killed me. And started me the other side of the boring cave, forced to listen to all the unskippable dialogue all the way through again. And god help you if, in your hammering of buttons in an attempt to make the dialogue stop, you catch the moment it finishes and have to hear it AGAIN.

You’re not able to tell which nearby thing on screen is this location’s interactive object, so an attempt to look at the cart of hay you’re facing most likely results in opening the door behind you. (In a laborious cutscene.)

There was a reason why incorrect solutions to puzzles became met with jokes, rather than random and unfair death. In 1992. 23 years ago. That reason was because it’s hideously boring to play. What could possibly have possessed anyone involved in this peculiarity to think that this was the nostalgic kick everyone was after once more? King’s Quest has a surprise way of killing you every other minute.

There was a reason why adventure games stopped trying to have action sequences. In 1995. Because they were utterly incongruous to the tone of the genre, put off people who were playing for narrative, and were invariably extremely poorly made. King’s Quest has you hammering at quick-time-event keys from the start, firing arrows at ropes on the fly, and kills you if you don’t react within the first second of its latest interrupting cutscene ending. And then makes you watch the cutscene again.

What we have, for the first hour, and then permeating throughout, is the worst platform game ever made, trying to exist inside a deeply clumsy and inferior copy of Telltale’s already ungainly adventure engine. It’s embarrassingly obvious how desperately the game wants to both look and behave like Telltale’s recent successes, right down to the rotoscoped look of the art, and the tedious over-reliance on QTEs instead of wit.

However, it’s also trying to be a quaint fairy-tale-ish world of magic and knights, cheerful rather than angst-ridden, and in the most peculiar way, traditional in the most untraditional framework.

The story desperately owes everything to The Princess Bride, from the conceit of the tale being told by an elderly man to a grandchild, to the types of characters you meet, that a series of duels is central to the plot, the rather desperate crowbarring in of the name Buttercup, and incredibly, casting Wallace Shawn then having a duel of wits in which dosed drinks are used. But it’s never so overt as a tribute – it always just feels like lazy copying.

After the first unbearably dreadful hour of insta-death and nothing to do but press A, we leap to the present day with an elderly King Graham (Lloyd) telling stories to his granddaughter, clearly while on his last legs. There’s some extraordinarily throwaway attempt at suggesting a storyline in that time, before things leap back to a new tale of Graham as a teenager, reaching the kingdom of Daventry for the first time. He wants to become a knight, and enters a contest against clearly superior contestants, and so begins a series of extremely familiar puzzle chains to outwit/cheat your way through each round.

Though it doesn’t do this without returning to the abject misery of its mangled, deformed platforming horror at certain points, actually re-using the same dreary locations as the first section of the game, making you try to force its frankly broken controls so you can jump up and grab at seven million ledges and ropes without its killing you and making you start over. (Don’t get over-excited – there’s no “jump” – you’re just pressing A, of course, but only when you’re pointing the analogue stick at the right fraction of a degree.)

By the second half, things find their way to a much more traditional adventure, although with both arms and a leg tied behind its back. Because you’re directly controlling Graham in third-person, and because the engine is a disaster, this is – incredibly – a further backward step from the single-cursor curse that has fallen so much of modern adventuring. At least with a cursor you get half a fraction of a choice of what to do. Here it doesn’t even manage Grim Fandango’s head-tilt – it’s a case of running around sprawling locations for the one thing that will cause the crude, placeholder-looking prompt to press A to pop up. Then perhaps open your inventory and use an item from therein.

There are some nice characters, and some excellent voice actors. I was particularly excited to hear Loretta Devine appearing in a game, and Tom Kenny (Spongebob, Mr Show) is particularly excellent as The Merchant Of Miracles. Christopher Lloyd is, well, Christopher Lloyd, and there are appearances from the likes of Kevin Michael Richardson (Groot) and other familiar voice actors. And while Josh Keaton’s young Graham is undeniably generic, he does a splendid job of the game’s main highlight – manic episodes of crazed excitement, while bouncing around the screen.

Characters like the bridge trolls and wannabe knight Acorn are extremely likeable, and occasionally pop out some funny lines. And as furious as I was with just how bad so much of this is, Graham’s moments of cartoon frantic excitement cracked a smile. There’s something in here, buried so, so deep beneath the crud. (The game is just DELIGHTED with itself for its puns, constantly congratulating itself for them, despite their being mostly weak and easy.)

It doesn’t help when it attempts to be arch. When finding a tool box containing an axe, Lloyd eventually finishes saying, “Before you ask me about that hatchet, no, I did not go around using it on everything.” No, indeed he didn’t. Because there were literally two useable things in the locations surrounding him. And no choice about what to do with either. And this is the case throughout. There’s no sense of choice, apart from a couple of overtly over-flagged moments of making decisions about whether you’ll be kind, smart or violent.

But most wrong is the pace. It’s all so agonisingly slow. Movement, because you’re trotting about with direct control, means you have to repeatedly traipse back and forth across its very many very similar locations, trying to remember which patch of forest it was that had the pathway you couldn’t cross before. Accidentally looking at the same object twice feels like a punch in the gut as you’re forced to sit through the same unfunny sequence a second time, and even more infuriating is when it’s wholly the game’s fault. During a dreary puzzle sequence at the very end, the granddaughter asks Lloyd’s Graham:

“You didn’t try to beat him straight?”

“No,” I replied, because I wasn’t beating him straight.

“Yes, of course I tried to beat him straight,” replies Lloyd, causing the lengthy, slow and deeply dull sequence to abort and force me to start over. ARGH.

In the last of its four hours, it does start to feel like an adventure game, and less like a third-person action game that was in a terrible car crash, but by then the damage for me was long done. Good performances, some very nice animation (albeit embarrassingly similar to Telltale’s look), and a couple of passable puzzles, just aren’t enough to compete with some astonishingly dreadful design decisions, the monstrously slow pace, agonising traipsing, unskippable repeated dialogue and laborious cutscenes, violently pisspoor platforming and action sequences, complete lack of introduction or explanation of who anyone is for people new to the long-dead series, ghastly controls, cheap and tacky on-screen prompts, obviously designed for tablet interaction, and god-awful instant deaths.

108 Comments

  1. TheDreamlord says:

    This really does sound dreadful, but you are terribly wrong on the Sierra’s KQ games. The first two were absolutely lovely for their time.

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      John Walker says:

      I challenge you to play them again!

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        I *really* hate the assumption that anyone who disagrees with you is simply suffering from a bad case of nostalgia. I’ve played KQ6 many many times, and it’s a great game. 4 and 5 are solid as well.

        It’s especially hilarious coming from people who adore Space Quest, which suffers from THE EXACT SAME PROBLEMS.

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          basilisk says:

          In most cases, I’d agree with you, but anyone who describes KQ2 as “lovely” hasn’t played it for at least a decade, and that’s a fact.

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          John Walker says:

          Well, first of all I was talking about 1 and 2, not 4, 5 or 6. I disagree with you about 4 and 5, but each to their own.

          Secondly, all the Space Quest games but 4 are *awful*. SQ 1 and 2 are truly atrocious games. So, um, yeah.

          • Beefenstein says:

            IMPECCABLE DEFENSE. 0 chip damage.

          • LionsPhil says:

            But 4 is the worst Space Quest!

            (Yes, I am carefully suppressing any memory of 6, thank you very much.)

          • Thirith says:

            I remember enjoying Space Quest 3, though mostly because of all the inventive, silly and horrible ways I could die. In that respect, it was like a more sadistic version of Botanicula, where every activity could lead to a fun little easter egg.

            I know that you haven’t mentioned that one explicitly, John, but I’d always defend King’s Quest VI, which had some great locations, fun characters and an earnest sincerity mixed with a fine appreciation of all things silly that is quite endearing.

            Other than that, though, the only Sierra adventures that consistently hold up well as games IMO are the Quest for Glory titles.

          • banananas says:

            I really hate breaking into this non-topic but, hey, at least SQ 5 wasn’t *awful* (though I might have to replay it, could be a nostalgia case). And I gotta agree with Thirith stating that part 3 was indeed very memorable.
            In my SQ book, which I’ve completed all, it’s 5,3 and then 4, due to all those arcade/time-attack bits, which we all hate so much. (Having a fast PC rendered that sequence at the skate-o-rama nigh impossible to complete)

          • LionsPhil says:

            5 is a tragedy. Conceptually, it was a cool direction for the series. As an adventure, it’s OK. But the writing is a lot weaker for only having one of the Two Guys, and the lack of voice acting vs. 4 as the budget was squeezed out of it doesn’t help either. There’s a real “if only” there if they’d done it instead of 4.

          • Sunjammer says:

            4 is trash, 3 is excellent. I don’t know what memories you have of 4 but all I remember is making burgers and even lamer jokes than any of the other ones. 3 had reconstructing a space ship and multiple solutions to Arnoid and robot boxing and and and and

        • untoldent says:

          KQ 4 and 5 were “solid” in the way that stool is solid, and when you strain to pass it, you tear yourself a new asshole.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Indeed.

          Although King of the Bastards might be Leisure Suit Larry 2, a game that never misses a chance to let you render it unwinnable, only to discover this fact much, much later (and wears its learn-things-from-dying puzzle design on its sleeve with a big, cheesy grin almost as bodly as that Star Trek FMV game where Q outright makes it an explicit mechanic).

        • Incanus says:

          I fully agree with you TillEulenspiegel. “Nostalgia” became an excuse for explaining everything this days. You love this? It’s nostalgia! X uses this mecanism from a game older than 3 years: nostalgia!

          Well, we walk on the shoulders of giants, in every things. Video games are like art (and ARE partly art): there is no pure progress, more an evolution, or re-imagination. Of course, there ARE technical advancement, enabling new things, but technical superiority is in no way translating automatically in better games (sometimes, it’s even the contrary).

          Look at painting, music, movies: is there “progress”? No. A good painting from 1620 is not automatically “inferior” to a good painting from 2010. A good film from 1950 is not inferior by nature from a good 2015 film.

          Of course, with games, there are more choices from a pure technical point of view, now. Like for painting, you can now uses every “style” created since the dawn of humanity.

          So in a way, the progress is in the diversity of possibles choices increasing. The last style “a la mode” is not automatically the better. Smart games uses what we have learned from all the games ever created since the beginning of video games. That has nothing to do with nostalgia but with clever re-inventing.

          Of course, you have some companies that will use the love we have for this or this nineties game and turn it in something awful. That’s just bad marketing and lazyness.

          In fact, most of us i think love games whatever the year of their birth. I don’t care if a game is from this month or 1995: i want it to be good, that’s all.

          >Sorry for my english, not my mother tongue.<

          • alms says:

            I admire the passion of your defense, but it should be patently obvious to anyone that there has been progress in games and not just in the shinies/pretties department. Also in other medias, see Mark Twain’s aphorism about classic books.

            Lots of games I played back in the day I can’t stand today. I am always surprised when someone proclaims they played some old classic to completion: whoever is so patient should be offered a job as game archeologist or something.

      • RottenDotCommala says:

        I play them all the time.

        > push rock

        Damn. On wrong side. Restore!

      • Rymdkejsaren says:

        The first King’s Quest was basically a tech demo for CGA graphics ordered by IBM. It was the first game of its kind (where the graphics actually represented the action in an adventure game) and with it, Roberta Williams literally created a new genre. For a games journalist to call it ‘terrible’ strikes me as either deeply cynical or very ignorant.

        • Baf says:

          I disagree. A work can be groundbreaking, revolutionary even, and still be terrible. Indeed, the first-comers are often the ones that take the worst advantage of their own innovations.

          I remember when KQ1 came out — I even owned a PCjr at the time, so I had the version with better graphics. I recognized it as something truly new, something compelling in a way I hadn’t seen before. This was enough to keep me playing everything Sierra released for years. But I was also an Infocom fan, and knew full well what a good adventure game by 1983 standards was like. KQ1 had a shoddy parser and sub-par world model even by the standards of its own time, and I complained about this mightily on Usenet and elsewhere.

      • TheDreamlord says:

        So, uhm, I have to say that, uhm, I made a mistake, uhm, I had Quest For Glory 1 and 2 in mind, not King’s Quest 1 and 2. Uhm, I never played the KQ series except for one but, uhm, I don’t even remember which one. So, uhm, yeah. Sorry! :-)

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          basilisk says:

          You are hereby pardoned. QfG 1 and 2 (as well as all the others in the series) are indeed very lovely and at least in my book the finest games that Sierra has ever released.

      • Mr_Blastman says:

        I have. And they are great. In fact, I plan on having my daughter play through them, too, parser and all.

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      basilisk says:

      I’m afraid that’s some very misplaced nostalgia you’ve got there. KQ2 was piss-poor even in its time, because it’s a terribly designed random mash of ideas stolen from elsewhere that together fail to make any sense whatsoever. KQ1 is also terribly designed, but it has to be acknowledged that it did at least have some novelty value back then.

      There’s a reason why even the fan-made remake of KQ2 makes some pretty massive changes to make it slightly less awful. (And fails.) You could try to argue that there was a decent game buried somewhere within KQ3, for example, and you’d have a point. But generally speaking, the series is truly bad.

      • tomimt says:

        It needs to be remembered that KQ1 was a ground breaking game when it came out originally. Technically speaking nothing like it had been seen before, so it had more than novelty value, even on the game business as a whole. And what comes to desigm it also needs to be acknowledged that it was designed long before there was schools for game designers. It did get a lot of things wrong, all the KQ titles did, but as such what Sierra did back then was pretty important to the whole business as a whole.

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          basilisk says:

          Oh, I am not disputing that. It absolutely is a very important game that belongs in a museum, but not a game that anyone in their right mind would want to play today. By modern standards, or even by mid-90s standards, it’s an unplayable, punishing and utterly worthless form of entertainment.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’d say the same of a number of modern games, e.g. all the hardcore indie platformers like Meat Boy and VVVVV.

            KQ2 can die in a fire for that bridge, though.

          • Flit says:

            LGR released a neat video review of the PCjr King’s Quest a few days ago, it gave me some respect for the game! But…I don’t want to actually play it.

          • fenriz says:

            but i love king’s quest 5. And all Sierra games are basically like it.

            There’s interaction with the environment, the “puzzle” is that some of these interactions can be done in more than one way. And in addition to the puzzle scheme there’s scattered bonus points for “unnecessary” manipulation.

            Ex. there’s absolutely no need for Robin Hood to give the conspiracy letter to Little John, but if you do it you get bonus points.

            This is the root of Sierra games, this root is equally present in all their games, i find it ingenious and light-years away from the cave-men games of today.

          • fenriz says:

            “not a game that anyone in their right mind would want to play today. By modern standards, or even by mid-90s standards, it’s an unplayable, punishing and utterly worthless form of entertainment.”

            That’s funny, this is modern age right here. I would say that you’re criticizing us for becoming sissies, wimps, but being son of your time you defend it, somehow you think that accessibility, not having to withstand difficulties and challenges is actually a quality.

        • jrodman says:

          In many ways it made adventures much more accessible as compared to the infocom side of its family.

          In many ways, however, it made itself less so. :-(

    • merbert says:

      Me arse Dreamlord!

      They were absolute bollox!

    • Stoo says:

      I recall the first game not having much story, just, a forest full of fairytale creatures and lots of frustrating ways to die. I think I even died trying to navigate the castle moat. It’s pretty awful to play nowadays anyway (dunno if the 1990 remake is any better).

      KQ6 is decent though. Twee patchwork of fantasy and fairytale ideas, sure, but quite enjoyable today still.

    • Nirm says:

      I’d just like to say, that I’ve just finished playing this game and I disagree completely with everything John Walker just said about it, aside from the excellent voice acting of course. This game is really good, I think he was to caught up on thinking it was an adventure game though when it is clearly a puzzle game. Can’t say anything about the original KQ’s though, they were before my time.

  2. G-Lord says:

    Ouch, that is harsh. And here I was ready to buy the game… As I’m not a fan of the originals (I couldn’t even bring myself to finish VI, which is supposed to be the best KQ game), I can put off the purchase for now.

  3. Pich says:

    wow, this is like the complete opposite of what all the other sites are saying about this game. the hell’s going on?

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      John Walker says:

      I wish I knew. I don’t recognise the game they’re describing.

      Although this does seem similar to when the very mediocre Sam & Max games came out, and nearly every site reviewed their memory of the original game rather than the ones in front of them.

      • jrodman says:

        Those were clumsy games, but somehow retained some sense of fun. This one sounds like it doesn’t even do that properly.

      • Klydefrog says:

        Could also be the assumption a lot of people seem to make that anything in the style of the recent Telltale games has to be amazing. Also maybe none of the reviewers have seen The Princess Bride and are experiencing that for the first time?

      • fenriz says:

        you might be biased. My ex girlfriend loved Sonic. I killed a rat the other day.

    • killias2 says:

      It’s not the only negative review. Polygon gave it a 6.5, for example. But most seem to have been more positively inclined towards it.

    • RottenDotCommala says:

      At least he’s not so willing so go chug at the protuberant member of the Sierra mountain like the other sites. You’d think Activision was paying for large ads on their sites.

    • RedViv says:

      Some people also seem to like Myst. The world is full of mysteries.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Some of the people who hated Myst now like Walking Simulators. The mysteries are never-ending.

        • Geebs says:

          Must have been all that pesky thinking that the Myst games made the player do. I know, horrifying, isn’t it?

    • csbear says:

      Who is saying the opposite? IGN? Gamespot (at least here in the US)? I think I will trust Mr. Walker’s opinion on this.

      These Sierra games bring back some nice memories of me on an IBM XT/AT and its clickity-clackity mechanical keyboards, but the games as a whole were not so great I felt. Although I did enjoy Heroes Quest a little…

    • MadFox says:

      I think it’s just a question of whether you fall for it’s heartwarming but kinda cliche story. I did but you have to know if your up for a traditional fantasy story told by a grandpa with admittedly terrible design decisions. It’s one of the games out that doesn’t try to throw a gutpunch or action at you.

    • santiagodraco says:

      That’s because this is what happens when people who think wot = what and are pretty much dense as a tree mentally review good games.

      KQ AKR is a good game with a unique style and is a fun diversion. If you are one who realizes that a good story isn’t narrated at the end of a sniper rifle then you’ll enjoy this game.

  4. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Great review! I watched some gameplay of it and thought it seemed very charming in its presentation. I especially enjoyed the voice acting. I am disappointed it seems to follow The Princess Bride in its story, as that can make things predictable, but I like the film immensely so I doubt it would ruin anything for me.

    Perhaps the second episode will fix some of the issues; I especially don’t like unskippable dialogue, and the slow trot seems to be a big problem. Still, I can’t help but be drawn to it. It just seems overall a fun time.

  5. Geebs says:

    Great box quote you’ve given the publishers, there….

    “Oh wow” – John Walker, Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  6. Six of the 9th says:

    This is my first comment in months of following this site.Only because, I am sad, very sad. Such a beautiful promise, yet unless devil has touched John Walker’s judgement, one must drink the bitterness of such a revelation in full extent or perhaps grab an unpaid for version of the product and test it for oneself….. I sincerely hate to see things going south despite all their marshmallow pinky premise argh this was really rough. That ‘Oh WoW’ ! was such a nasty sarcasm :(

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      John Walker says:

      Hearing that a game is not good is not a good reason to download it without paying.

      • GAmbrose says:

        The original poster here leads me to quote Rick James: “Cocaine is a hell of a drug”

      • LionsPhil says:

        A lack of a demo and the awkwardness of refund in the digital distribution age (although slowly clawing back) might be.

        • JiminyJickers says:

          Those are reasons not to buy the game, they are not reasons to download it for free.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You seem to think I am suggesting you don’t then go on to buy the game if your ghetto-demo doesn’t show it’s worth it.

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            Harlander says:

            … wait, so you’d buy it once you’d decided it wasn’t worth buying?

            *squints*

            Too many negatives, man…

      • RogerioFM says:

        Yes, it is.

  7. GAmbrose says:

    Eurogamer seemed to really quite like this, I guess I might have to play it myself to find out :D

  8. geekbabel says:

    Man, you and polygon, I don’t think I could disagree with two opinions any more. I had so much fun playing this game. I loved the cheesy jokes. All the characters were written very well. I thought the puzzles were challenging enough for an introductory episode. I didn’t mind the platforming bits because.. well first of all there technically is no platforming in this game. Idk if you could call what this game has “platforming” since most of it is contextual “hold left and he auto jumps” or “hold the direction you want to go, press x and he auto snaps to that location”. It requires no real precision so I think we should have a deeper conversation about what can and can not be considered platforming but that’s for another time. I absolutely loved how light hearted the over all story is in the face of these other dark and serious adventure games. Don’t get me wrong, I like dark and serious but its nice to get some light into the room every once in a while.

    Now lets talk about the pacing. It’s not slow. It’s far longer than any one episode of an episodic game we have had so far and I think we’ve grown used to TellTales 2 hours and done approach. We’ve also gotten used to the TellTale “not having to actually do any real work” approach. There’s so many things you need to do in this game every side quest to complete your main goal felt like an accomplishment. Back tracking across the same places is also something I’m completely fine with if technically the only reason i may have visited that place 5-6 times was because of my own inability to understand what needed to be done at that place. In reality you only ever need to visit every location once or twice, maybe three times. Well, ok the shops in town are the unfortunate exception but everywhere else is just us as gamers feeling that its much easier to physically look for the solution the the problem rather than actually stopping to think about it for a second so we end up walking back and forth a hundred times hoping the game will give us the answer eventually.

    Last couple things, I didn’t have that problem with the last puzzle where you have to play they game, he it gave me the choices of yes and no I knew exactly what each one was gonna do and I choose to play him again because I enjoyed that little game and I wanted to prove I could do it fair and square. It took me like 10 tries but I eventually did it. Thing two, I think theres enough of an introduction to these characters. The main characters name is Graham and he wants to become a knight, the others characters names are what they are and they are the people who they are. What else do you need to know? What about these characters was not explained enough that it left you confused? Thing three, unskippable cutscenes.. ok I agree with that, that was annoying. The only design choice I truly felt was inexcusable being 2015 and all. But I enjoyed the dialogue and the humor really clicked with me so that didn’t hurt. Thing four, yes art style is similar to TellTale but TellTale doesn’t have a monopoly on it, and thank God, because I like this style and it would suck if only one studio in the entire world was allowed to use it.

    Personally I feel like this is what TellTale games should be. I loved the walking dead and am really enjoying Borderlands but if they could add some actual gameplay that would be nice. Honestly I felt like this game did TellTales dialogue choice system better. Having watched other people play it was very clear to see how different future interactions could have been if I had made different choices.

    I’m really excited for ep 2 and I think people who have yet to play it should really give it a chance. I’m ready for any rebuttals to my pinion but please don’t rage at me. Yes my comment was long but it was in no way offensive to anyone and I would appreciate the same courtesy.

    • killias2 says:

      How dare you agree with some people while disagreeing with others?! You make me sick.

    • Xantonze says:

      The unskippable banter when you die is just awful. Like John, I had to retry 3 or 4 times at the beginning when you wake the dragon because what you can interact with is really unclear… and then you get to hear the lines again, and replay the dull part and rewatch the cutscene. No line of dialogue or gesture stays fresh and funny when you have to go through 3 or 4 times….

      Yet, I’ll keep playing for a bit as I’m interested in this bit Eurogamer praised:
      “””
      What impresses most is how much choice you have. An early challenge is to find a replacement wheel for a stranded merchant. Wandering into the deserted town, there are several items that will fit the bill, but each requires you to steal from one of the absent townsfolk. Which one you choose, and how you face up to the crime later, will impact future chapters.
      “””

      John doesn’t talk about this at all and I wander how it’s actually implemented, and if it works.

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        John Walker says:

        I shall be quite honest: I realised, after making a decision I had not realised at all was closing down other pathways, that it might have been possible to do something differently. But the game has no saves, and offers no ability to go back to a particular moments when you’ve finished, and the idea of suffering through the hours of hideous shite a second time to reach that point and find out was beyond any possibility.

        • Xantonze says:

          Fair enough!
          Too bad you don’t mention it though, as It looks like the big asset of this game.
          (I don’t think it quite changes the experience you described, though).

          • klops says:

            I’m always doubtful about these things. Most likely it will be like in Walking Dead. Where the choises narrowed to “Who Dies, A or B?” “A” -> B appears on the next episode with some lines and dies. “B” -> A appears on the next episode and dies. There were almost no real consequences for anything. Which is understandable, Making whole new plotlines that might be unplayable is not that cost-efficient.

        • geekbabel says:

          But as a counterpoint to that, even tho you would have to start the game over to literally see the alternate paths, I think at many times the game makes it quite obvious how things would have turned out if you had done the other thing.

        • LionsPhil says:

          But the game has no saves

          What.

        • santiagodraco says:

          I felt the same way about your review, like I was trudging through shite.

      • fenriz says:

        sounds awesome. They took it straight from the previous masterpieces.

    • Daeghrafen says:

      I enjoyed it, too. The only thing I really didn’t like was that you couldn’t skip through dialog/cutscenes. I can see not letting you skip it the first time through a given bit, maybe (per computer or something, not per playthrough; you shouldn’t have to listen to/view the same bit more than once ever IMHO if you don’t want to). But after that, you should definitely be able to skip ahead. Amongst other things, I liked the idea of replaying to see what the different options would have ended up changing, but because you can’t skip ahead, it was obnoxious to do so. A quick travel option might have been nice also, but I honestly didn’t really mind walking/running about all that much. Other than those things, I really enjoyed the game. It felt much meatier than the TT games, it paid nice tribute to the original games without feeling like it was slavish in keeping to their established continuity, and it was funny and lighthearted the vast bulk of the time, which was frankly kind of refreshing. I was pleasantly surprised.
      To be honest, I even kind of enjoyed being thrown into the game in media res with no tutorial. The system was easy to pick up, and I liked the lack of an overt tutorial with blatant explanations. It was more immersive this way, and certainly not difficult or confusing (in my opinion, anyway; obviously, some people will feel differently, and that’s to be expected. You can’t please everyone all the time.)

  9. xfstef says:

    Game Devs: Hurr Durr … look at our artistic vision !
    JW: Sit down you twats !

  10. TomA says:

    ‘There’s something in here, buried so, so deep beneath the crud. (The game is just DELIGHTED with itself for its puns, constantly congratulating itself for them, despite their being mostly weak and easy.)’

    Just like most RPS comment threads.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      Puns? In an RPS thread? Surely you can’t be Sierra-ous!

    • Minglefingler says:

      Agreed. It’s particularly egregious when the article is about a game set in a fantasy world and the comment section is full of lazy puns kobold together by buffoons like me.

  11. frightlever says:

    Has there EVER been a good 3D adventure game?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Discworld Noir and Grim Fandango, if we’re counting 3D models walking around pre-rendered perspectives.

      And Sierra used to call their Quests “3D” back in the day since, hey, you can move through a 3D space as much as Lewton and Manny can.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        I’ve never played much in the way of adventure games besides the old Lucas Arts outings but I really liked The Longest Journey and its very-much-3D sequel Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Also the first hour of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy if that counts.

    • klops says:

      Gabriel Knight 3. Yes, it has the puzzle with the cat…

    • Venkman says:

      Oh please, what are you, an angry adventure game fan whose Usenet post got lost in a time machine from the year 2000? Should adventure games stick to those 2D 1990 graphics from here to eternity?

      GK3, Sam & Max Season 3, Walking Dead are all very good.

  12. Michael Fogg says:

    In the land of King’s Questia they breed pikachus for use as sturdy pack animals, it seems.

  13. Monggerel says:

    JW::Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?

    S:: That’s a very-

    JW:: F A L L T O Y O U R K N E E S A N D L A M E N T

  14. CobraA1 says:

    Ouch. Never heard the original King’s Quest described like that.

    That said, it was one of the first of its kind, and for the time was considered pretty good. I suppose gaming has evolved since then, so maybe it does come across that way for the modern gamer.

    Immediately it becomes apparent the game was built for a controller (and far more likely, a touch screen), the WASD movement confused with pressing Space to interact, Tab for your inventory, and the mouse not involved at all.

    Ouch. I guess I’ll pass on this series. Before the genre effectively died, it was very mouse driven. You clicked on things to interact with them. That should have been kept. Even a touch screen design should be able to accommodate a mouse – after all, tapping on something on the screen is like a mouse click. Sounds like they went completely the wrong way with the controls.

    However, it’s also trying to be a quaint fairy-tale-ish world of magic and knights, cheerful rather than angst-ridden, and in the most peculiar way, traditional in the most untraditional framework.

    Trying to figure out if you meant this as a positive or a negative? Sounds positive to me.

    Also – I don’t mind a bit of “twee” (dictionary says it’s a British word, yeah had to look that up . . .). I wouldn’t mind a bit of that from a King’s Quest game – that was kinda the point of the older games. They could also be rather silly, so I’d expect this game to be rather silly.

    Pick the “wrong” one and you instantly die.

    Yup. That was in the original series, and in a lot of early adventure games. They could be frustrating and unforgiving. Probably not the best mechanic to bring into a modern game, but might provide some nostalgia for old timers.

    King’s Quest has you hammering at quick-time-event

    Oh __, they went down THAT route? Ouch. Quick-time events should be buried and never revived.

    Sounds like they borrowed the worst elements of the original games, combined it with the worst elements of modern games, and released something terrible. The only positive sounds like it being a “quaint fairy-tale-ish world of magic and knights,” which is exactly what a King’s Quest game should be.

    I suspect a bit of British / American culture clash in this review, so I’m not really gonna take your comments on the story seriously.

    Even ignoring the story, it doesn’t sound like that great of a game. Even the positive reviews online hint at what you’re talking about: Some websites are pretending that this type of game benefits from “action sequences” (they have GOT to be joking).

    So I’ll pass on that. If I want King’s Quest again, I’ll head over to GOG.

  15. ansionnach says:

    “It’s a rousing start to the story, but this daring expedition is presented in an entirely linear fashion, makes notable use of button-mashing arcade segments and has only a few simple puzzles.”

    So says the EG impressions piece. Certainly sounds like the same game, although their writer warmed to it, nonetheless. He does talk positively about the game’s choices… but they sound like false ones (steal a wheel from Mr. X, Mr. Y or Mr. Z) and set off alarms that the game may have some trite moralising in store for you (if that choice is something like: steal from the nice poor guy or the mean rich guy). Really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, anyway. The game does sound like what I was expecting: side-scrolling adventure-lite, although I would have expected more competent platforming and a reluctance to instantly kill you for no good reason.

    Not that the other review really explains what “the, wit, heart and soul of classic King’s Quest” is, but John’s version of the KQ story is more in line with what I experienced of the series. The first one seemed witless and obnoxious. This game’s probably better.

  16. Ejia says:

    I now wish to know what John thinks of The Colonel’s Bequest.

  17. Fathom says:

    I don’t think you used enough derogatory adjectives in the last paragraph. Might want to add in a few more incase people didn’t understand what you meant.

  18. rondertaker says:

    so it’s a kings quest game.

  19. vgagallery says:

    As a fan of the series, I may be biased but I think this was a great adaptation of the game for 21st century audiences. Easy, intuitive, colorful, funny, and charming, I was pleasantly surprised by the homage they paid the originals while also recognizing to simply copy or clone an old game would be foolish. Instead, their updates to this amazing series felt like a refreshing addition to gaming today. Sorry you didn’t feel the same Mr. Walker, I didn’t think it was hard or boring at all, but then again I knew what I was getting into!

  20. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    As a long-time KQ fan who grew up on 1 through 6 and even thought 7 was alright, I’m finding Episode 1 to be charming and enjoyable.

    The stuff you say is there is indeed there, it just isn’t rubbing me the wrong way. I dunno. Maybe nostalgia is just a powerful drug. I’m having a good time and so far am glad it got made.

  21. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    Play the (free, non Sierra) remakes – they’re most excellent, and the KQ2 remake expands considerably upon the original.

  22. Paroxysm says:

    I hated, hated hated this game for the first 90 mins. I was utterly confused by the glowing reviews I’d seen. Once the game opened up though it did win me over as an entertaining game and a fitting installment to the Kings Quest series. That said all your criticisms are valid. I just got over some of them. Most of the issues could be fixed though so I hope they do.

    One question: Are you sure about that beating him straight part of the battle of wits? If the game just ignored your choice that’s kind of bullshit. I beat him straight because it felt like a good puzzle but I’m surprised they pretended to give you a choice to cheat.

    Oh I so totally hate the occasional “PICK ONE OF THESE THEE THINGS IT”S IMPORTANT” moments. These are not choices I care about. Actually the first one is the worst because the narration says how each choice would have far reaching consequences… How would Older Graham know that? Had he lived three times? Unless this story goes into some time loopmultideminsional stuff that was among the dumbest bits of dialog I’ve ever heard.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      No – it’s just that the writing’s poor, so they don’t notice their own double-negative. If you respond saying the “wrong” response, it carries on. (Let alone that the suggestion that it’s in some way cheating to drug him, when it began with his drugging you, seems very odd.)

  23. Shmeghead says:

    Good performances, some very nice animation (albeit embarrassingly similar to Telltale’s look), and a couple of passable puzzles, just aren’t enough to compete with some astonishingly dreadful design decisions, the monstrously slow pace, agonising traipsing, unskippable repeated dialogue and laborious cutscenes, violently pisspoor platforming and action sequences, complete lack of introduction or explanation of who anyone is for people new to the long-dead series, ghastly controls, cheap and tacky on-screen prompts, obviously designed for tablet interaction, and god-awful instant deaths.

    Strike those bits about on-screen prompts and tablet compatibility, and you’ve pretty much summed up the classic series, double-plus on the instant deaths.

  24. Dugular says:

    I’m so glad I bought the game and played it before reading this WIT!

    Agree that the first hour was horrendous though.

  25. joe balls says:

    PC Gamer said that he pacing was far too slow and the puzzles had a terrible structure that killed most of them stone dead. So it only got 70% there. Is it me or doesn’t that make sense?

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Richard is always a touch generous with the numbers. I tend to subtract 20% from his scores as a rule, because his words are always superb and worth reading.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I point to the last paragraph where this is explained – that despite the problems, I enjoyed the game and a lot of what it did over its five hours run. But making it clear that tolerance for a messy and flawed experience involves its novelty, is limited and won’t last if this episode is the warts-and-all template for the rest of the series. And so if Episode 2’s writeup is more on the lines of “Oh, for fuck’s sake…” there’s no point going “But you gave-“

  26. CH0S3N says:

    Curious how this has a 95% user rating on Steam. That combined with most other publications giving this title a favorable rating doesn’t exactly place this so-called “review” in a good light. I think the author has no business playing let alone reviewing adventure titles.

  27. shootsharp says:

    John,
    Just because these games do not live up to a standard of beyond the year 2000 does not make them bad games. I have played all of these games and would again if I knew how. But you’re holding them to a standard that is impossible to hold them to and isn’t fair.
    If they were inherently bad games with just a hint of nostalgia then why would they be remaking it, or why would so many failed attempts have been made to revive the series if it had not be loved by so many.

  28. Nilan8888 says:

    This review has the greatest use of hyperbole in human history!

    I played this and it was totally fine. Even the most annoying bits of un-skippable dialog would almost never clock in at more than… what, 10 seconds? I guess maybe as much as a minute if it was prior to a cutscene. And the beginning was yes, totally linear — which to me seemed to be the point of an introduction. The game proper really only begins with the second “story”, with the first part as prolog. Sure, they could have had opening credits superimposed over it to spell that out for us, but oh well.

    But this review is awful in its over-emphasis. Struggling to name a game with a worse first hour. How about “Remember Me”? God, what an awful game. Or “Bad Company” or… heck, I’m going to say it: I got more enjoyment out of this little thing than all of “Dishonored”, which was a huge let-down. And this little episode was not. You play it again and you see so much that’s foreshadowed (notice in the prologue what Graham does when he picks up the bow).

    This review spends its time making statements about what apparently happened to the gaming industry in 1992 and 1995 as if the author has studied the era or something, when he apparently has no conception of what things were like prior to 2000, let alone when KQ1 was released in 1984. These titles were so OBVIOUSLY poor compared to… what? ‘Zork’? ‘Ultima II’? ‘Pac Man’ or ‘Adventure’? Don’t get me wrong, I liked those titles, but get your heads on straight. When King’s Quest was released, Maniac Mansion was still 4 years into the future! Comparing these games to what’s out today is like comparing a musket to a jet fighter.

    The Sierra games don’t look like much now, but back in the 80s, they were FANTASTIC games. Just about all of them. Space Quest 1 and King’s Quest 2 were a bit lackluster, but I can tell you Space Quest 2? King’s Quest 3? Or the first Police Quest? For those first 6 years from 1984-1990, these were some of the best games out there.

    • alms says:

      I got more enjoyment out of this little thing than all of “Dishonored”, which was a huge let-down.

      …next!

  29. Nilan8888 says:

    Hey man, what can I say: the story of Dishonored had NO surprises AT ALL (oh, those guys are going to stab me in the back later in the story? Oh-wow-I-totally-did-not-see-that-coming-from-the-moment-they-signed-me-up), a world that was almost as derivative as King’s Quest (Steampunk’s much newer than fantasy, but it’s STILL been around a little over 30 years — it’s hardly more innovative an environment than King’s Quest was in 1984) and was really just a senseless romp with no characters I cared about AT ALL. Not even a little bit. Cardboard-thin. Even these fantasy-lite archetypes in KQ1 have more depth. They’re not as dark, but they’re better written. Dark doesn’t always necessarily mean more complex or ‘better’ when you do nothing with it.

    Plus it really annoyed me that you’d be knocking out guys and their bodies eventually disappeared on you. Totally took me out of the game.

  30. Cooper1 says:

    I was really looking forward to this game. I was a large fan of KQ6, enjoyed 5 and 7 as well but my favorite of this style was the Quest for Glory series. I cannot even play this game with the awful controller support, which is necessary for this game since its design for keyboard and mouse is a joke. My logitech rumble gamepad does not work at all, the Xbox 360 controllers axis is flipped and all the buttons are wrong. Normally I can use controller emulator to fix poorly designed games like this but not this one. If that fails I can usually use Xpadder to map the keyboard to the controller, but not even that was working right with this pos.

    From this review and other comments I am glad to see i am not missing anything, sounds like I wouldn’t have liked it anyway, still disapointing. I am not a fan of QTE games, though some if done well and have a great story are enjoyable. Recent one I played was called The Wolf Among Us, which was a great game and QTE done right for this style. Telltale’s Jurassic Park was another game I was looking forward too, had a good story but its use of QTE made it horrible and I just uninstalled it and watched someone else play it on youtube. Doing stupid things like press a button 20 times to pick up a rock, turn a crank or escape a situation is a game breaking design for any game.

    For those interested in the classic adventure games, you should check out Quest for Infamy. Good game, lots of humor more true to the classic adventures, even more so to Quest for Glory. Full mouse support, bit more modern with added keyboard shortcuts which I like.

    • alms says:

      For those looking for a QfG experience I would also warmly recommend Crystal Shard’s Heroine’s Quest.

      Though it’s free, it has every right to be payware.

      • Cooper1 says:

        Awesome thanks, never knew about that game. Installing it now, it looks great.