Review: King’s Quest – Chapter I: A Knight to Remember (PS4)

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Title: King’s Quest – Chapter I: A Knight to Remember
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.8 GB)
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
Original MSRP: $9.99 (Single Episode) / $39.99 (Season Pass)
ESRB Rating: E10+
King’s Quest – Chapter I: A Knight to Remember is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2015
– Best Puzzle or Platformer (PS3)

Editor’s Note:
For more background on the origins of this continuation of the King’s Quest series, please check out Josh’s impressions from E3 2015.

Gameplay:
Be forewarned that there can be some upsetting events which may distress some younger children.

This is an episodic game where your choices will make differences, particularly in subsequent episodes. Even in this first episode you’ll find, although you may not realize it at the time, there’s more than one way to skin a bridge troll.

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We begin by walking up to a well… but we can neither draw from it nor affect it in any way until we check the UI and see that there is a contextual button push. Cross button is the order of the day and Cross button push we shall. Ah! We must descend! Five minutes in and I am surprised by the game already.

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Moving through the environment, jumping happens on its own like Nintendo’s Link unless there’s a contextual button push indicated.

There is a sequence near the end of the first section of the episode akin to the kind I abhor. Surprisingly it’s quite fun, probably because this is a family game and even I can tolerate QuickTime events made for an eight-year-old!

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At times we are also presented with choices which will affect the future. This kind of gameplay is becoming more and more prevalent and I couldn’t be happier about that.

It will be interesting to discover how these developers at The Odd Gentlemen handle these choices compared to some others. It is here I must give the devs of Life Is Strange, DONTNOD, the side-eye for their Episode 4, The Dark Room.

… if you’ve paid attention …
There seems to be some concern about a character’s health. I may be wrong but this game may be using the medium and the overarching story to teach children a similar lesson to The Arkansaw Bear, a play for children by probably the greatest children’s theater playwright Aurand Harris. Time will tell.

The knight seems to be riding not a horse but a capybara! There’s something you don’t see every day! Not even in Brazil.

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The writing is very humorous. Grampa loves his puns and the ancillary characters are broadly written and well-acted.

Some moments present puzzles you need to recognize as such but the clues have all been given if you’ve paid attention. You take everything you know about the characters and then piece that together for the solution.

SIDEBAR: True story. I may have mentioned this before. My father was named Ottie and he had a twin brother named Offie. This game includes a character named Olfie! Uncannily close to the weird and heretofore unknown Dunn family names given my father and uncle on July 26, 1919.

Ottie and Offie's long lost cousin Olfie?

Ottie and Offie’s long lost cousin Olfie?

The fetch quests are numerous but it seems that the developers realized that so they try to keep them funny. You have to give props to a game that includes lines from the main character making sarcastic remarks about fetching various doodads. Well, you don’t have to but I am a big fan of meta.

Keep in mind that there isn’t a prescribed order to the various fetch quests you’ll encounter but there is an necessary order of completing them to continue the story. And it’s also possible to need something you can’t know how to get until you just slog through the fetch quests.

At one point I needed a raft of various items including raisins, a sweet dessert for which I had to find ingredients, an eyeball, various horn mouthpieces… the list goes on and seemingly… on.

… find a playthrough on YouTube …
There are even “think outside the box” moments so obscure they belong in a Dungeons and Dragons game written on graph paper from 1981 by a proto-gaming-era dungeon master which lead to exclamations of “I CAN DO THAT?!” and in a game where there is much one can not do they seem quite incongruous.

In pursuit of a game-inflating fetch quest, I discovered by accident that it’s possible to have the proper tool for a job yet the game doesn’t prompt you. I have the tool… but the indicator for using my hand never appears. Hours spent trying to fulfill other fetch-quests lead to dead ends… because of this.

Pro tip: If you are an adult who wants to play with your young children, find a playthrough on YouTube, watch it before you start, and help guide them because both of you might be frustratingly stumped and end-up disappointed. It’s true.

… a cliffhanger of course …
This way your child will think you’re a frickin’ GENIUS and you’ll both be spared long wasted, wandering hours searching for any number of items which could and may be anywhere including your randomly hidden capybara.

With time for gaming sandwiched between dinner and homework and bedtime this is a must. Excepting Josh who makes his own hours and plays with Mason until 2AM, Yo!

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The end of this episode is a cliffhanger of course and it hearkens back to my suspicions about this game being somehow a version of The Arkansaw Bear for a new generation.

Visuals:
The character design and animation are quite Disney-like. A welcome addition to the glut of attempts at realistic graphic designs for this generation of consoles. Gaming mustn’t chase only one goal.

As a matter of fact, simpler graphics may belie more complicated workings “under the hood” to make room for even more complex gameplay mechanics and, as we are seeing with the various episodic games in release, far more numerous branches of outcome.

… surprisingly beautiful …
This is not to say that the graphics seem last gen or that they have taken a hit. The game is surprisingly beautiful. But initially there is no camera control. It appears so crisp that it seems to be running at 60 frames per second, which is truly the new normal.

There was some clipping I noticed which seemed odd because  it happened in a short cut-scene but apart from that, wow is this game pretty.

More background from Josh's E3 King's Quest Preview:
The art style is breathtaking in its own right and even more impressive when you learn how it’s done. It’s actually entirely hand painted. A flat version of the 3D models is printed out on paper, artists will color it in with watercolor and then it’s all scanned back in. It’s an incredibly labor intensive process but critical to capturing the handcrafted feel of the original games.

Audio:
Suddenly it becomes clear that we are playing a story told by a grandfather to his granddaughter. A grandfather voiced by Christopher Lloyd! Oh, Marty! Another character is voiced by Wallace Shawn. Inconceivable!

And the incomparable Loretta Devine whose career began on Broadway in the original cast of Dreamgirls and who was most recently and memorably seen as Doctor Webber’s wife Adele for several seasons on Grey’s Anatomy, voices Muriel Hobblepot.

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As a matter of fact, the voice actors employed here have such wonderful credits you may wish to peruse them on the King’s Quest IMDb page!

If you’re wondering why Wallace Shawn is voicing a character, as was I, you need only get to the end of the episode for a delightful call-back to his most famous role.

More background from Josh's E3 King's Quest Preview:
The music is also pretty fantastic so far and they even showed off the theme from King’s Quest V redone and subtly woven into the story.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

… King’s Quest will not be a pushover timewise …
Conclusion:
In an age of gaming when it’s common to get to the point, this all felt like a lot of padding in order, I cynically suspect, to get to five episodes and thus more income for the game makers.

In days gone by I would have thought nothing of this kind of gameplay but now as I age and my gaming time contains fewer hours I have to remember what it was like, even five years ago, when this kind of fetch-questing and elongated play was more normal.

That said and recognized in circumspection, it may be important for the prospective player to understand that King’s Quest will not be a pushover timewise.

I remember just weeks ago that Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture got some middling review scores because some games journalists thought the walking speed did not respect their time.

King’s Quest may be viewed similarly excepting that EGTTR was a 100% story game to be taken at a relaxed pace intrinsic to its mission while this is a former point-and-click adventure game for PC. The whole PC control scheme in this genre lends itself to feeling faster. On console it’s a bit molasses-y.

There is a lot here to recommend. Yet I look forward to the next installment with equal measures of dread-for-fetching and excitement to see how the characters progress.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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