King’s Quest: Chapter One
This is a remake of the classic games from back in the 80s and 90s but it’s back with up-to-date graphics and mechanics. It’s designed by the same developer, Sierra, and I played on Playstation 4. If this looks interesting, episode 1 is currently available for free if you have a Playstation Plus account this month.
King’s Quest episode one focuses on an elderly knight named Graham sharing stories of his youth, with his granddaughter Gwendolyn. I couldn’t help but compare this to recent Telltale games like The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead so I expected this first episode to clock in at about an hour. I finished the episode in about six hours, though that included some spots of getting stuck and looking up tips. It’s a substantial adventure though, especially considering it’s the first of five (or potentially six) episodes.
You’ll notice the art style looks very much like recent Telltale games as well, though it plays very differently. The basic gist of the game is that you wander through the level you’re in until you find items or people that can help you progress. Every item is useful, so if you find something, you just need to find what it interacts with.
Action-driven moments are the game’s best. It’s a straight-forward adventure but it looks incredible and the monster design of the dragon is really great. You get a good variety of different puzzles and ways to engage with the world as well. This game is a very different one compared to the game that exists in the bigger open town sections, which can have you backtracking and looking up wikis and leaving you overall confused. These tight action moments were great though and definitely the highlight of the game. Luckily, there are a lot of these moments.
The art design is also fantastic, with the creature design being really fun. Their take on classic fantasy monsters is really unique.
What doesn’t work?
There are dialogue choices in King’s Quest but there’s usually only one right answer, unlike the branching decisions in other adventure games. I found myself talking to the same character and re-engaging in dialogue until I got the right string of dialogue that would let me continue. This got a bit repetitive, especially considering dialogue and cutscenes are both unskippable.
The actual execution of the animation is sometimes flawed. Some moments, like the action scenes in the dragon’s cave, look great, but other moments, usually dialogue-driven cutscenes, look far less polished. The dialogue is also a little corny, with the humor failing to hit the mark in quite a few scenes.
So should you play this? If you’re a PS+ member, then yes. This is a lot of substance in just one episode and the art design is alone worth your time. However if you’re paying for this, or paying for the additional episodes, just know that the more open parts of the game tend to require a lot of backtracking and you’ll likely need a wiki open. There’s a mirage of choice, as most conversations require a certain result in order to proceed. The moments you do get substantial choices, I’m curious if those moments will come into play in future episodes. It’s got potential but there are games that do this much better.