King's Quest: Chapter 1 - A Knight To Remember - Giant Ent Review
Over at Giant Ent Gaming, we've just finished playing the first chapter of the rebooted King’s Quest series, aptly named; King’s Quest: Chapter 1 - A Knight To Remember.
We enjoyed the game so much, we thought we'd like to share our opinion on the game, what we liked about it, and what we would have changed.
I’d played a couple of the earlier King’s Quest games when I was younger, mainly King’s Quest V and VI, so I was really excited when Activision announced that they were reviving the sleeping giant of my childhood -- Sierra.
And I was even more excited when they announced that with development from The Odd Gentlemen, there would be a brand new King’s Quest reboot! And no, not Mask of Eternity. I mean a proper reboot. With new gameplay, voice acting, puzzles, all the stuff that I loved about the original King’s Quest games; but now.
Right of the bat you’re dropped into this magical world, and not all that much is explained. You’re just some guy with a cape, walking up to a well. But what’s that? You’ve got a little feathery cap on your head that looks kind of familiar?
Kind of like King Graham!
You know, the awesomely brave, kind and clever knight who defeated a dragon and became king and had triceps to die for -- seriously, do a Google search.
But, we’re just kind of look like some scrawny kid, so what’s that all about?
So, you play the game and go through this intro section, that has a little foreshadowing, and find out that you are indeed King Graham; but a much older, more bearded and kind of sadder version, and you’re retelling stories of your many adventures to your Granddaughter, Gwendolyn.
And the next story you tell her is about how you, as a much younger, scrawnier, and straight up clumsier Graham, first came to Daventry, in search of fame, fortune, and adventure. And, on a side note, to enter a tournament to become a knight and later become king.
So, I don’t want to give everything away, but during the trials of said tournament, you meet a multitude of interesting, funny, and well designed characters, each of which have their own quirks and charms.
Ultimately, the game sets up the growth of Graham, from the straggly teenager, to the super awesome king of Daventry we all know and love, and tells a really well crafted tale of bravery, wisdom and friendship, both those gained, and lost.
Although the story is fairly linear, you can affect the outcomes of certain parts, although it might take a few playthroughs to really see how big the changes are, or whether they affect the later Chapters as well. These choices are mainly based around whether you want to be brave, wise, or kind.
You know, that stuff I kept mentioning earlier…
King’s Quest isn't the only one who can do foreshadowing.
It terms of score, and actual musical composition, David and Ben Stanton did an amazing job at capturing a real fantasy like feeling of awe and wonder. It's well worth taking the time to check out the game's soundtrack. It’s gorgeous, and ranges from thrilling, to funny, to some absolute tear jerkers.
What I think I like most about the music though is the arrangements of instruments. From the big wall of brass instruments, creating that medieval feeling of Knights and Dragons and Castles and Kings, to the smaller brush like sounds, emulating broomsticks in dusty old shops, the attention to detail is staggering.
It’s almost a shame that this detail can quite easily be overlooked, since the voice acting and dialogue is incredible. With the likes of Christopher Lloyd, Wallace Shaun, Tom Kenny and Zelda Williams, it's a very impressive line-up. Check out the video for a full rundown of the amazing list of voice actors.
With King's Quest V introducing the series to voice acting, it looks like A Knight To Remember has really come along way from it’s predecessors...
And this game will definitely make you laugh. All the characters have clever quips, and the odd one liner that comes out of nowhere, but personally, it the good old fashioned King’s Quest puns that get me.
Visually, the game is stunning. Every movement is smooth, and responsive, and the environment around you feels alive. The characters all have a goofy kind of cartoonish look to them, that just makes you want to love them even more.
And yes, sometimes the tree tops seem a little flat, and there is the occasional bit of clipping, and that baking tray sure is pointy looking; but none of that really detracts from the overall aesthetic that The Odd Gentlemen have achieved.
The whole world looks, and feels magical. The colours are vibrant, and eye catching, and look like they’ve been pulled straight from a fairytale.
The whole game looks as if it’s been hand painted, and that’s exactly what it is! Everything in the game was painted, then scanned and 3D modelled. Then, the scan of the original painting was used as the overlaid texture, which gives it that incredibly smooth, solid, but still kind of rough around the edges feel. The game is literally, a work of art.
The gameplay in A Knight to Remember changes it up slightly from it’s predecessors. With King’s Quest V moving from Command Typing, to Point and Click, A Knight To Remember moved to a more ‘walk and press’ based game style, more in-fitting with modern day consoles.
They even included a couple of other little bits, like some first person sections with your bow and arrow, and a few quick time events to keep you on your toes, as shown in the video above.
And unlike the older King’s Quest games, we’re now given a little pop up prompt in the bottom corner when we can interact with something. Some might say this takes away some of the exploration, but personally, I like it.
But apart from that, not loads has changed. It’s still pretty true to the King’s Quest formula... talk to someone, find a thing, do a thing with the thing, get another thing, talk to the person again... repeat.
And it does it pretty well. There were times when I felt we were just going from point A to point B without really caring about it, just to finish the quest for this person, or that person, because they told you to do it, and there’s not really anything on the same level as the infamous gnome puzzle in King’s Quest VI, but there’s definitely moments of triumph when you finally overcome a puzzle, be it figuring out how the get the raisins into your hypnosis powder, or finally realising how to hear the bridge trolls secret password.
And on top of all that, there's the (almost) boss battles; each of the duels -- my favourite being the Duel of Wits, where you really do have to use your wits to outsmart Manny. And then when he finally reveals his true nature, and you defeat him, it feels awesome! The duel of wits mini game is hard, and you’ve got nothing but your own wits to defeat him. And that’s pretty neat.
There were, however, a few things things that I would definitely have changed in A Knight To Remember. First and foremost, it’s slow. Now, I don’t mean the story, that’s great. It’s paced nicely, and really depends on how quickly you figure shit out. I mean, everything else.
Conversations are long, and although they’re often interesting, or funny -- sometimes they’re not, and you’re just left pressing the button to try skip through it. Except there’s no way of skipping conversations in this game, and then you accidentally start it again and have to go through the whole rigmarole again!
The conversations themselves are great. But sometimes, you just want to get on with the next bit of game, and skip through them. Why isn’t there just a skip sentence button?
And speaking of buttons that should be in the game, why isn’t there a run button? With all of the exploring you do, and backtracking to speak to people, or deliver something, you would have thought they’d have included a faster movement mode. They had that kind of thing ages ago, as shown above in King's Quest VI, but in this one you’re at your same slow jog powerwalk speed the whole game.
And then - and this is just a little thing - there’s no map. Now, some people might like this, because it means you have to immerse yourself in the world, and into Daventry a bit more, by reading the sign posts scattered around, or just not being an idiot and actually remembering where things were, but I found when we played, I was getting lost all the time, and we were backtracking way to often.
And, that wouldn’t exactly be a big deal, but since I’m going everywhere at a snails pace, it made me not want to explore quite as much. And that’s not very quest like.
And then very finally, there’s the autosave. Now, I know that autosaving is in everything nowadays, so it’s pretty expected. But what I always liked about King’s Quest was having to save your game after you’d accomplished something, or else, you could be devastated that you’d forgotten to save, and then fucked up, and you had to go through it all again.
In A Knight To Remember, I wasn’t really worried about that, because I knew if we did mess up, or get killed, we’d just pop back to life and give it another shot from about 5 second previous. And yeah, it was frustrating in the old King’s Quest games at times, but it also meant that there was a real weight to your next step, and there were consequences if you messed up.
And that’s what made it an adventure.
Ultimately, King’s Quest: Chapter 1 - A Knight To Remember is awesome. It’s super fun, and light hearted, with little drops of despair amongst the incredible stunning and amazing world. It’s a fantastic opening to an episodic saga, and although I prefer my King’s Quest adventures to end tied up in a little bow, whilst we, the hero, remains triumphant -- it holds up pretty well.
It’s got a good amount of playtime, and definite replayability. The cliffhanger ending leaves you wanting to know what happens next, and wondering is everything’s going to be alright.
There’s definitely things that I would have changed, and maybe they have been changed in the later episodes. But, I guess we’ll just have to see.