King’s Quest Coming Fall 2015

Game players from the 80s and 90s were excited when Activision brought Sierra back from the dead last year. Not only that, but a new King’s Quest title was announced.

Excitement is building again as the first previews are starting to come out, with a release date expected this fall.

The Return to Childhood

Like a lot of kids I couldn’t wait to get home from school and play King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest… any of the many “Quest” titles available for PC at that time. The world of gaming was different back then and Sierra Online was the titan churning out hit after hit. At one time their point and click adventure games were the act to beat and almost every game you found in the store tried to clone their formula in some way.

Some of the gameplay in old Kings Quest games was a bit unforgiving

King’s Quest 6 opened our eyes to what was possible from a game. Multiple endings, emotional narrative, video filmed with real actors.

It wasn’t all wonderful, of course. A lot of the gameplay was kludgy by today’s standards. You had to get used to saving your game after major events so you could move back and forth in the game in case you made a mistake – otherwise you risk going one-way down a path where you are missing an important item you cannot complete the game without.

Having knowledge of the fairy tales and myths that inspire the puzzles can give you a leg up in solving the games, but some of the solutions were nonsensical or impossible to reason through. In King’s Quest 4, for example, there is a horses bridle hidden out of view in a wrecked rowboat on a deserted island you can reach only once. If you don’t pick up the bridle you cannot tame the unicorn and win the game; but <em>nothing</em> anywhere in the game or on the island even hints at the item’s presence behind the boat. Hint books were a big part of the marketing strategy for games in those days, often written by the development team and released alongside the games.

Rebooting King’s Quest

The new game revisits the life of King Graham, the hero and patriarch of the royal family we first met as a knight in King’s Quest 1. It’s been almost 20 years since the last instalment in the franchise so this will serve as a reboot for today’s gamers, but not a remake. The game will feature an aging King Graham telling the story of his life from adolescence beyond the events in the original series.

It sounds like the developers have put a lot of thought into maintaining the storyline from the original games while introducing new characters and updating the world so it can appeal to modern gamers. Don’t expect to see point and click interfaces from the past; games like the Walking Dead and Tales from Monkey Island have set the standard for how these kinds of games should look and act in the post 3D-crisis world.

Is the Timing Right?

Sierra struggled along with everyone else when computer graphics started to switch to 3D. Neither players nor studios had firm concepts of what to expect from the new technology, and the free-for-all changed the rules. King’s Quest 8 was actually a pretty decent run at a puzzle game in 3D, but suffered from the pressure to include generic melee combat that was common at that time.

King Graham approaches the dragon in the well

Now that we’ve collectively gotten twitch-shooters and social farming games out of our system, we are starting to see a return to form for deeper storytelling. Thankfully we are past the awkward beginnings of 3D graphics and can move past the geeky tech factor into more natural looks that support rather than distract from gameplay.

King’s Quest is Due Fall 2015

King’s Quest will hit shelves Fall 2015, both for PC and PlayStation.

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