A while back I was granted the opportunity to play the first episode of King’s Quest for the PlayStation 4 and while I found the game engaging and intriguing I felt that the game was trying to bring too many new things to the King’s Quest universe and it felt like the reboot took a long time, spinning its wheels, trying to give itself a new identity, when I felt that it wasn’t inherently necessary. You see, King’s Quest was already a franchise full of lore and full of intrigue: it didn’t really need to be rebooted that badly, I felt. I suppose the change was a little jarring and it made me feel a bit disconnected from Graham’s initial journey into modern gaming.
Now that I’ve played through the third chapter and I’ve gotten some opportunity to get used to the world Sierra and Activision are presenting for the franchise, now, I feel a lot of respect for the care and love The Odd Gentlemen have put into the new series. Part of me wants to say that the whimsy, humor, and intrigue is back, but I fear it’s been there all along.
A Tale of Two Princesses
King’s Quest, Chapter 3 has you in the same position as the previous two chapters, telling a story as King Graham to your granddaughter Gwendolyn about adventures in your past with the help of the Magic Mirror: this time, about how he met his eventual wife. While the story told around the kingdom is rather dull, it would appear that the truth of the matter is quite a bit more exciting as it is the first episode in the saga, so far, to finally borrow from the franchise’s source material – in this case, Kings Quest II: Romancing The Throne – having Graham climb a cursed tower in an effort to rescue the princess trapped inside and ask for her hand in marriage, only to find there are actually two princesses with two very differing personalities.
As you progress through the chapter, Graham is mistaken for a princess himself, somehow, by the old hag witch that resides in the tower with them and allows for Graham to befriend, romance, and eventually rescue the princesses. Whereas it would seem that the first chapter did the gameplay of the previous franchise justice – making puzzles feel like they were properly placed in the game world and the lore, even if they seemed a little on the crazy side – this chapter made you feel like The Odd Gentlemen got the story and dialogue back to where it belongs in the franchise. There was a lot of charm and humor present, enough to engage you and swoon you into wanting to do your best.
It’s very clear from the get go that The Odd Gentlemen referred to an actual game in the old franchise to create this chapter because it certainly feels like the spirit of the franchise is certainly present. Whereas the gameplay had hit all the right beats in the first chapter, it still felt devoid of what made the franchise great, back in the day, and the second chapter just went around in circles, trying to find itself and trying to recreate itself. This chapter actually made me thoroughly excited for what’s to come and given what came before, that’s saying a lot.
True Love At Last
What transpired in the game synced beautifully with my feelings for the franchise: you have to understand that I’m a longtime fan of the franchise and over the years, the series was stretched thin and the need to change things to sell in a newer modern gaming era – well, new for 1998, anyway – just made the games harder to get into and harder to develop. When a sequel to Mask of Eternity had burned out, it had seemed like there was no hope for the franchise past that point and as loathe as I am to say it, I’d given up even more hope when attempts to make that sequel were continually cancelled alongside attempts to remake earlier titles.
However, having gone through this chapter, I’ve slowly grown attached to the franchise again and it’s that stupid “I can’t really explain it” feeling that the game really goes for when it tugs at your heartstrings, as well it should, because the franchise has been fraught with that. Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow was especially good at that, for me. It was almost like all the hoping and praying was actually worth it, in the end. I completed this chapter with a sigh of relief and a tear in my eye because my greatest hope had finally come true: King’s Quest is back.