As part of Gamereactor UK's new policy towards episodic titles, we'll discuss individual episodes as they release but leave a final roundup verdict until the entire season is completed. As a reflection on that, these recaps will also pinpoint the strongest and weakest elements we found in each episode, and as such contain spoilers.
It's been a while since the most recent King's Quest. A terribly long while. In the meanwhile the adventure genre has changed largely thanks to Telltale Games' man episodic and story-driven efforts. The new King's Quest has been crafted by the talented folks at The Odd Gentlemen (The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom) mirrors much of the innovations Telltale have brought to the genre.
The framework for the story in A Knight to Remember is that an old Graham tells his young granddaughter Gwendolyn of how he came to be a knight. The beauty of this is how the story is told through Christopher Lloyd's narration, and there are lots of Easter eggs hidden in the dialogue for those who dare to take a wrong turn or two, or go the extra mile to solve puzzles in alternative ways.
The episode sees Graham first gaining access to the trials and then besting his peers in challenges of strength, speed and wit. As you may have guessed Graham isn't the strongest, quickest or necessarilly the smartest hopeful, but your job is to somehow get the clumsy youngster to succeed.
The puzzles in A Knight to Remember range from simple item related fetch and trade quests, to quick time events, real-time string puzzles, and well some games where you may have to cheat in order to win. Well, that last bit isn't true as with a fair number of puzzles there are multiple solutions. These solutions may in turn have influences on later events or simply lead to different dialogue or scenes, as well as potentially influence future episodes (who knows?). To be perfectly honest we would not have thought there were many alternative routes if we hadn't gotten stuck at one point and were forced to go looking for walkthroughs online only to find none of those took the particular path we'd taken and so were not very helpful in providing us with a solution. In the end we had to search the numerous sections of Daventry a couple of times to finally find a way to help our trusted hamster (or should we say steed) Triumph out of a trap. It may sound frustrating, and it was, but in the end what's an adventure game that doesn't manage to frustrate you at times? Veterans of graphical adventures, or purists, may scoff at the idea of multiple solutions and at times it does certainly lessen the challenge, but the benefit is that you'll have taken a different route through the game than your friend and so your conversations about it will be all the more interesting.
We've already mentioned the dialogues, and for the most part the game is not just well written, but the lines are also delivered beautifully by the cast. For the most part King's Quest provide the kind of humour you'll muse about rather than laugh out loud funny bits. That said, we particularly enjoyed the bits of dialogue regarding the Bridge Troll strike and their union meeting. The only problematic bits were when the story took a more serious turn as this take on King's Quest clearly leans towards the more humorous and silly parts of the legacy of the series. The rest of the cast - including knight hopefuls like Whisper and Acorn - as well as various shopkeeps and guards all fit in nicely and Graham's many interactions with the wildlife also entertains.
Unlike an episode of a Telltale title the first chapter of five planned of King's Quest is rather substantial and took around 6 hours to complete, and by the time we finished it there were still plenty of secret achievements to unlock suggesting you could sink even more time into it. And you may be interested to know the first episode alone offers 1000 Gamerscore (Xbox One). Another thing about King's Quest that's different to Telltale titles is that player choice isn't signposted - instead you'll likely not even realise most of the decisions you've made other than major intersections where you opt for bravery, wit or compassion. But there is always the sense that your decision seemlessly blends into the story and that it plays out in the only way possible.
There was a bit too much backtracking (well, maybe not too much, but there are lots of areas and you'll go back and forth a lot), a few graphical imperfections and inconsistencies (for example Graham's cape moves beautifully, but there's way too much clipping involved), and the user interface isn't very pretty (especially the hideous QTE buttons), but overall the new King's Quest is off to an exciting start.
We will bring you reviews/recaps (without score) of future episodes of King's Quest and once the full season of 5 episodes is out we'll review the complete game and give it a score.