In terms of quality, this game is outstanding. The voice acting, the writing, the visuals, the puzzles, all of them are marvelously done.
Even if the 3 different paths you can take to solve the game don't make that big of a difference, the fact that there's no way to get yourself stuck, and that each route is actually very different in terms of how you progress is all very impressive game design.
There isn't any consequence in the game. You can't do something wrong, you can only keep wandering around until you get it right.
Even though there are three different paths you can take, it doesn't change the story significantly.
The Princess Bride references were cute, but they got to the point of just being extremely uninspired.
King’s Quest, was an adventure game series in the 80s and 90s set in a medieval era. Sierra games in general such as Leisure Suit Larry and Space Quest were infamous for being very difficult in having a wide variety of junk to carry around just so you might figure out what you need to do with the junk you carry around.
The initial gameplay is very straight forward, pick up anything that stands out in the background, and use it later in the game to get something else you’ll need later. They squeezed 8 Kings Quest games out of this and this new game, follows a similar format, but is actually just as different from the old KQ games as it is similar.
King’s Quest 2015 is episodic, following the style of Life is Strange, or The Wolf Among Us. This is the biggest chance to the King’s Quest formula but it stays pretty true to the series. Even though, each individual episode is $10, and there’s a season pass for $30, totaling to about $80.
What King’s Quest 2015 Does Well
King’s Quest is absolutely stunning when it comes to visuals. I’m pretty sure most of the assets and backgrounds were painted by hand. The writing is just as nice, the story is told through the point of view of King Graham, the main character of a few older KQ games telling his life to his grand daughter. I love the characters, the writing, the voice acting, all of it is wonderful.
The puzzles are just as well done. There’s still the plethora of crazy junk you can pick up and use in many different ways. In some cases, I picked something up and completed the episode without ever using it. It definitely dumbed down the insane things you had to do in the old days to beat the game. I’m not exaggerating how difficult the old King’s Quest games were, there was an actual HOTLINE you could call if you were stuck. But KQ 2015 simplified a lot of it while keeping the difficulty up. I definitely needed a walk through a few times just because there were so many options.
What King’s Quest 2015 Does Poorly
I want to emphasize that it’s a lot easier to point out flaws in something than it is to point out what it does well, which is why this section is so much longer.
There are a few things in this game that bothered me, like the small bugs and art clipping through other objects, or like how it’s really easy to accidentally watch the same scene over and over again because there’s no “I saw this already, let me skip it” function. But those things really don’t matter in the long run and aren’t worth going in depth on.
The aspect of the game that bothers me the most is the false agency the game provides, or rather the way it goes about giving you agency is misleading. The main theme of the episode is choosing what kind of person you want to be, and what kind of impression you want to give to your granddaughter. You could take the brave path, the compassionate path, or the wise path, all of which are essentially different ways of completing the episode. It’s a nice concept, but no matter what order you do things in, it doesn’t change what you get.
It’s not really “bad” design, they made sure no matter what order you do things there’s always a way forward but it feels unsatisfying when you can’t stay true to a path and have it not especially matter. Just to add onto the feeling of everything not mattering, even though the game does give you 3 different ways of approaching the story, the only difference is few conversations you’ll get with certain people. It just feels…misleading.
There’s also no peril in this game. It used to be, if you didn’t make a save state in your game, and you died, you would lose all your progress. It was harsh, but that was the reality. Now whenever you die, or lose in a competition, the game makes up an excuse for why that didn’t really happen, or why you’re not disqualified. I was in a race with a guy, and every time he crossed the finish line before me, someone would say “There’s still one more lap!”.
Oh one last thing I want to mention. This isn’t something it does poorly, but something that needs to be addressed. This game is RIDDLED with references to the Princess Bride. Like, at first it was charming, but it’s gotten ridiculous, almost to a fault. At what point does a reference, become an homage, become a lack of clever writing? It’s already being told from the perspective of a grandfather telling is grandchild a story, and it has Wallace Shawn, voicing a dumpy little man, who drugs a goblet, that you have to drink while playing him in a battle of wits. Come on, really?
I didn’t grow up with Sierra games, my exposure to them came from the Youtube channel Game Grumps, who by the way have several hilarious lets plays of these games, I highly recommend checking them out. But back to what I was saying, I thought King’s Quest 2015 was an excellent return to this adventure style of gameplay, even if it is significantly simpler than what it used to be. For $10 it’s a solid 6 or so hours of gameplay and there’s 4 more episodes on the way. I would say the game’s biggest short comings are that the choice you make in the game don’t matter that much, there are way too many Princess Bride references, and honestly, there’s a lot of references to the old King’s Quest games that only people who know those games will get, which I think in the long run is fine, but it’s definitely something a lot of people won’t get.