Review: King’s Quest – Chapter II: Rubble Without a Cause (PS4)

kings-quest-ep2-review-banner-yr10

Title: King’s Quest – Chapter II: Rubble Without a Cause
Format: PlayStation Network Download (4.2 GB)
Release Date: December 15, 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 II: Rubble Without a Cause 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

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

Gameplay:
Four and a half months after the release of this episodic game’s first chapter the second chapter finally drops. I had to go back to read my review so I could better recall what happened in Chapter I: A Knight To Remember.

You may notice that although you completed the first chapter, after downloading Chapter II the first one seems to ask you to continue while Chapter II simply says “Begin”. I chose to continue Chapter I to see what was going on there and noticed that the manner in which I chose to finish the brief trials at the very end affected how the frame narrative played-out as well. If you give that a try it might help refresh your memory.

King's Quest_20160112183009

The humor is splendidly intact as this chapter begins. Pay close attention to the decree numbers. People of a certain age will find humorous references to pop culture.

Fetch quests are back, of course, that being the core of the King’s Quest gameplay along with puzzle-solving.

At times it looks like you might be too far away from the task you need to complete. Just keep your eye on the action buttons. When you need to do something they will tell you whether you can or not.

… I am on a mission to save the lives of other characters …
Backtracking is the order of the day in order to gather information to put together clues to solve the puzzles which are also time sensitive and you never know when time is going to run out depending upon the various choices you make and in which order you make them. You get different items at different times. It’s a bit like Until Dawn in that the lives of your friends are in your hands. As in Chapter I, these circumstances may not be great for young children.

One puzzle is seemingly a guess-as-you-go puzzle with no way to know the answer apart from trial and error. What’s more, there isn’t any indication of what can be gained by solving it. The problem with that situation is that I am on a mission to save the lives of other characters and this puzzle belies not only the emotional congruity of my character but the tone of the situation on the whole, while simultaneously feeling like filler to pad the episode.

King's Quest_20160112202711

The hint to the solution to this puzzle is only revealed on the other side of the map after meeting specific criteria. If you think you know the solution and take the time to run, sorry, walk back to the room on the level where the puzzle lies only to discover you misunderstood or misremembered the clue you’ve now wasted at least twenty minutes… in one direction and need to walk back to find the clue. Ultimately I had to get paper and pencil and write down the solution.

… Suffer along, won’t you …
It’s not until one takes certain selfish measures that certain points of the story and the way forward come into stark relief. It’s the timing of these discoveries which dictate who lives and who dies. The problem is that in this large area with its several levels, there isn’t any way to know which choices to make and when. I guess that is the point. While that is the point, as King’s Quest is made to look like a Disney film and sound like a Disney film, there is a harsh reality underlying everything.

Normally if you try to use an item which is inappropriate you get an indication of such and that’s that. But there is one item that King Dunderhead from TV’s TAXI tries and sometimes when it doesn’t work, he throws it aside making it mandatory for you to go get another one. YET ANOTHER ONE! I could tell you which one but since my playthrough was anything but rosey, why should I? Suffer along, won’t you?

PRO TIP
Because this episode’s outcomes depend so heavily upon who lives and who dies, going to YouTube for help will likely not be very helpful. There are various branching ways to get a variety of items. You’ll have to get them all and the likelihood that some YouTuber or Twitcher played exactly the way you did in all respects is, as Kinderman said to Regan’s mother in The Exorcist when asking if there was someone else in Regan’s room who could have killed Burke Dennings, the probability is “…very remote.”
“Would you like another cup of coffee?”, she asks.
“Yes, please”, the detective replies.

Certain parts of various puzzles can only be solved by you at your full strength, and perhaps another with help from a friend, yet others require certain discoveries of coinage to buy items.

King's Quest_20160128182517

This episode reminds me of NYC and how, seen at a distance and with some detachment, the city is actually one complex machine containing many parts in motion. It’s not surprising that some parts break while the machine continues to function. By parts breaking I mean people being shot, starved, pushed/jumping in front of subway trains, stabbed in elevators… you get the idea.

In this episode you play only one cog in the machine but you are the most important cog. You are trying to keep it all working by interacting with many other parts and if you make a mistake the E Train gets delayed, annoying 500,000 commuters at rush hour, while the MTA scrapes brains off the wheels. I was on that train once during such a delay and as heavy as those subway cars are when filled with people, you feel the thumps under you anyway and your first thought isn’t, “Oh No! That poor person!” Oh no. You realize you’re going to get back home far later than you like, “That selfish bastard!”

… You have a ways to go …
You may find yourself face to face with The Conundrum. For the sake of this review, although it’s not my name now but it was upon my birth, we will term it Dunn’s Conundrum (HEY EDITOR: Amazon sells the espionage novel Dunn’s Conundrum, by author Stan Lee who is NOT Stan Lee of the comic book world but whose name gives yet another level of ridiculousness to my own existence typically exemplified by “Go figure!” and it is here that you should hawk his wares.) (HEY REVIEWER: But what if it is that Stan Lee, just not from Earth-616)

This conundrum often appears in video games at the moment one thinks silently and then exclaims in an empty room, “BUT I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE NEXT?! I’M STUCK!”

No. You’re not. You just think you are. Keep playing. You have a ways to go.

King's Quest_20160127181140

Visuals:
Still beautiful with some of the best cloak animation in gaming history.

I have noticed that sometimes you can almost see through the knight but it’s not too distracting. It’s just a little bit weird.

Audio:
Great voice acting. The score seems a bit better used in this episode than the last.

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

… when I came back I had a really fun time …
Conclusion:
King’s Quest is an unusual game. It seems to be made for kids. The frame narrative has a grandpa telling children the story you’re playing. But the story may be disturbing and too sad for young children.

I understand that what we have here is a throw-back to the old Sierra adventure games which were noted for being tricky and time consuming. Time consuming I can handle. Time wasting I do not appreciate at all. I didn’t feel like my time was always being wasted but I did become frustrated with the pace and fetch-questing from time to time.

The characters are well drawn and acted, the world is interesting, and the animations are wonderful.

Despite the fact that I wanted to quit reviewing games forever if I had to keep playing this when I got involved in one particular puzzle, I took a break and when I came back I had a really fun time. Sometimes my Andropause gets the better of me.

Score:
8.0

* 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.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook