Did you guys know that the 2015 King's Quest game was not a Telltale game? You know, the episodic game that told the rise and fall of Graham; the original King's Quest protagonist. Because I for one did not know this, even while I was playing the game. Everything about this series felt like a Telltale game, including the simplistic controls, the dialogue choices, and the fact the game adapts to choices you make along the way. Heck, the ending even got me as emotional as the ending of Telltale's first season of The Walking Dead.
Looking back on it though, the game also plays out just like most other King's Quest titles. The very first episode tasking you with making a name for yourself as a knight hopeful to Daventry, playing as a quirky and hapless Graham who seeks to become king. If you're a fan of the original series then you should know that this follows the story of those games pretty closely, expanding upon plot that is already set in stone and giving us a look into the origins of some of the biggest baddies in the King's Quest series. Since I enjoyed Game Grumps' Dan and Ross playing the original games together, I was spurred to download the entire "season" of King's Quest when it went on an Xbox Gold Member discount. Probably why I thought it was a Telltale game too, since it went on sale with the other completed Telltale games.
Now the game is a bit unbalanced, as that first episode I mentioned felt like a full game. After you successfully become Daventry's next king, the next episode has you confront the goblins who have kidnapped your townspeople. This episode is more focused on you deciding the fate of everyone captured, balancing who you give food to and who you decide to escape with. The third episode then tells the tale of Graham meeting his future wife for the first time, as you rescue one of two princesses trapped in a magical tower. Technically one of the two is a canon decision, but it all is up to whose personality you enjoy more. The fourth episode is about Graham meeting his son, who had been kidnapped as a baby by the evil wizard Manannan. This was pretty cool as it take place after King's Quest III, where you play as Gwydion, Graham's son, escaping from Manannan. Of the episodes, this one was by far the most puzzle heavy of the bunch.
But the fifth episode, oh the fifth episode. See, all of these episodes are the stories that an aging Graham is telling to his grandchild Gwendolyn. As such there are times you cut back to reality, where Graham has really started to show his age. These moments, which there is a big reason for, one that is covered in the fifth episode, brought up some rather unpleasant memories of my grandmother. A woman I looked up to as one of the strongest individuals I knew, whose mere presence brought an air of respect. Everyone would stop talking if she said something, and no one doubted that she was the glue that held my family together. But as she got older she got hurt, falling down and not being able to get up just like what happens to Graham. The fifth episode is extremely emotionally powerful for those who had such a person in their life, and I fully admit I had a silent cry as the game switched to controlling Gwendolyn and finding Graham's room empty.
If the game's score was based solely on emotional impact, it'd be at least a 9 out of 10, but given how 'Telltale' the game did and did not feel at the same time it misses the mark. The dialogue didn't really feel fulfilling, yet if you didn't constantly speak to characters you might miss out on some funny joke or amusing dialogue. Exploring is key, yet the decisions you make progress you in a liner direction. The sheer number of references to the original King's Quest games is pretty substantial, but anyone who has never seen a King's Quest game before will likely miss out on them. The first episode feels like a full game, but every episode afterwards felt shorter and faster. In the end, the game has its moments but they come at the beginning and the end.
King's Quest (2015) gets an 8.4 out of 10