King’s Quest: Chapter 1

Developer: The Odd Gentlemen | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, 3D

As of this post I will stop adding pros and cons. My web statistics tell me that pretty much no one is reading these reviews but me, and then I might as well not waste time pretending to be a reviewer.

This game really surprised me. I didn’t expect all that much apart from a modern take on the classic Sierra adventure games, but it was really top notch. Great animation, wonderful and funny dialog, lots of humor, and some ingenious puzzles too. Long and varied too. Definitely not bad for a free first chapter.

The game used much of the same template as Telltale Games who did e.g The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Even down to the cel shaded style. I could steer young Graham around with direction keys on scenes that sometimes were static, sometimes scrolling, clicking on things to interact. To spice things up, the adventure was sometimes complemented with a blend of arcade action and QTE sequences.

The 3D adventure reminded me of Simon the Sorcerer 3D, and the QTE of Dragon’s Lair. Although QTE in games of today are technically already derived from Dragon’s Lair, it felt particularly strong here because of the first scene in a, well, dragon’s lair. Or perhaps I should say prison.

I completed this first chapter in one sitting taking 6 hours, and I’m happy I spent time with it. The adventure game parts quickly opened up with multiple locations and non-linear solutions, and the dialog was often splendid. I can’t say that I was a fan of all of the action stuff, though. Some sequences such as avoiding dragon fire, shooting goblins with a bow, and a race with a narcissistic knight was a bit too much.

Spoiler: Observations

I liked that Graham was good with a bow in the first sequence in the dragon’s big cave. That was a story from later in time. The actual meat of the chapter took place some time before that, and here Graham had to learn how to use it well by a friendly knight of few words. More about that later.

Shades of Uncharted as Graham grabbed a magical mirror in the dragon’s cave and fled for his life across a crumbling bridge made out of mattresses, then rafting down a cave river.

In the main story, Graham met four knights that he had to compete with in various games, such as getting an eye of a hideous beast, a duel of strength, a duel of speed, and a duel of wits. This setup reminded me a little bit of the graphic novel with Valerian having to compete with superheroes.

Nice gating system in the form of three different kinds of mouth pieces for blow horns, each summoning a big bridge troll for creating a bridge for crossing over to the other side. Getting these mouth pieces were adventure puzzles in themselves.

I could only traverse a dark cave and a dark path in the woods when I had a candle-in-a-pumpkin made for me. Both places were crawling with wolves and walking into the dark without it was fatal.

Although dying happened in this game, it never set me back much.

My favorite sequence was a visit to the dragon’s big cave trying to get the hideous eye of the dragon. This was the sequence that took place before the intro sequence. I met the shiny knight Achaka, a man of few and foreign words. He was skilled and adept – much more so than Graham.

I really liked that instead of Graham and Achaka competing with each other, they helped each other out. The way they became friends during this sequence was so well done, and it made it all the more hurtful when Achaka was killed by the dragon in the end. I really felt Graham’s pain too when he exited the cave full of guilt and regret. He was determined to give up and I understood him.

The sequence in the dragon’s big cave was also where the action and puzzle sequences shined the most. I was climbing, running for my life, and jumping on poles by repeating the pattern Achaka showed me. At one point I got out of prison part we had dumped into, but only because Graham could squeeze out of a tight opening in a door. Now I had to tweak shields so that Achaka’s rope would hook onto them as he shot a bow out between the bars of the door. That was a marvelous puzzle sequence.

The duel of strength against a round brute of a knight got into a silly sequence dragging a colored rope hanging from the knight around poles, hoping to get him to trip on it. It was another one of those that got a little bit more stressful than it needed to be.

Same thing with the race against the complacent Whisper that could outrun Graham with ease. I had to make Whisper stand on his hands or run backwards in a specific order just to have a chance at beating him. It was silly and funny, but the constant retries – not so much.

The final duel of wits against Manny was sort of a minimalistic take on chess with wind-up toys. It too required a lot of retries. Manny was skilled, didn’t give up easily, and again I had to cheat. I colored one of the drinks a guard shuffled around, so I could identify it after Manny poured hypnotic powder in one.

I admit, I actually laughed at some of the silly puns told by the narrator – old man Graham.


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