Review: King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember (Episode 1)

I’m not really a fan of these type of games, so I read the blurb and decided to give it a punt anyway. A tale about the King of Daventry I heard. I’ve been to Daventry. It’s not the best.

King’s Quest however is about the fictional kingdom of Daventry and the King, Graham. My interest suddenly peaked. Rather than a jaunt up the M1, Daventry is a kingdom of old, filled with Knights and dragons. The plot of the game is set by current king, Graham retelling his quest to get to the throne to his granddaughter as a bedtime story.

This is a nice scene setting, and allows old Graham (voiced brilliantly by Christopher Lloyd) to narrate the action. Episode 1 includes two tales, a short intro ‘tutorial’ and the beginning of how Graham came to be a Knight. The best comparison is that it plays like a point and click adventure of old only you move the analogue stick to move young Graham around. My first impression is that the characters are beautifully animated with a sort of cell shaded cartoon look which suits perfectly against hand painted backgrounds. The gameplay revolves around interacting with characters and objects and presenting other objects to progress the story. Without playing any previous King’s Quest titles I can’t comment on whether or not this is a progression for the series but from what I read it sounds very similar.

The big hook for me as I started playing this was the story and the characters. The story is interesting and the characters are all very well rounded and incredibly well voice acted. Young Graham is perfectly over-enthusiastic, an early interaction with a Knight is done really well with quick camera cuts as he bubbles with excitement. There aren’t many games where I’ve laughed out loud, and even less where I’ve recounted events to friends in the same way you would a funny scene of a film you’ve watched. Without wanting to spoil too much of the game, an early part has you competing with other potential Knights and you have to interact with them to learn enough information to complete a test. They all have bonkers personalities, my favourite being a self-indulgent, arrogant posh English gentleman who constantly refers to himself in the third person.

The narration changes depending on your actions and there is a lot of hidden dialogue that would easily be missed. The first puzzle you come to simply has two levers – pull the wrong one and on your death scene old Graham remarks “… and that’s what would have happened if I pulled the left lever. But I didn’t… “. This carries over to lots of different actions in the game, I blew on a horn a couple of times and Graham comments “I blew on the horn three times”. As I kept going his dialogue continued to change. It’s clearly designed for experimentation and reward for that.

There are also a number of decisions to make and ways to complete different puzzles. Clearly it’s too early whether this will have a baring later on in future episodes but it’s starting to shape my version of young Graham into a compassionate wisecracker, rather than a rude violent thug or a coward.

There are only really two things which I haven’t enjoyed so much. First, cutscenes are unskippable – not a huge deal, but it also includes dialogue trees. So as you’re exploring interactions, having to sit through the same Chivalry Test ruleset five times is painful (despite excellent delivery from the voice actor). Secondly, there are a couple of bits requiring on-rail action game type movements, be it navigating a raft through some debris or shooting an arrow very quickly with FPS controls. This doesn’t work too well, it’s frustrating and feels out of place. Hopefully there’s less of that going forward.

For now though I’ve really enjoyed King’s Quest. I will check in with shorter updates before a final opinion but if you like puzzle-adventure games, enjoyed the point-and-click type games of the past or just want a funny game as a break from muddy soldiers shooting each other this is well worth a look.

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