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Video Game Review: King’s Quest Collection

Fans of adventure games rejoice, the famous King’s Quest Collection is on Steam and it’s exactly like it used to be. Yeah, that’s right, it’s exactly like it used to be. Gosh darn, if it’s not exactly the freaking same. You’ll see why I’m voicing such a frustration from that very soon, but how does the Kings Quest Collection stand against other adventure games, such as the Monkey Island series, or the classic Beneath A Steel Sky? As always, we’re here to let you know what we think about this weeks’ title!

The collection's interface is from Windows XP as it was released back in 2006.

The collection’s interface is from Windows XP as it was released back in 2006.

Overview

Developer Activision
Platforms PC (Windows only)
Windows Release September 2006
Genre Adventure
Price on Steam £14.99

Review

Story

screenshot-2017-02-18-09-07-20

The King’s Quest Collection features all of the King’s Quest titles from King’s Quest I through to VII. As such, the stories are somewhat varied, but with an overlying theme in that you are in some way on a quest with/as the king or as one of the kings contacts, family members or otherwise. For instance, in King’s Quest I, you play as an adventurer called Graham. For the king, you are requested to acquire a magical mirror, to seek out truth; a magical chest, to have unlimited gold for the land; a magical shield, to protect from everything. Once you’ve acquired all of these, you are to return them to the king.

I won’t go into detail about all of the games, but they often go into this sort of idea: You need to resolve a problem – Usually through a longwinded sequence of events. You have a certain score, which tells you when you’re close to completing the game in it’s entirity. The games are good at giving you a range of characters. In King’s Quest II, Graham is the king. King’s Quest III sees you play as a boy who works for a rather nasty enchanter. The fourth edition has you play as Rosella, the daughter of King Graham – and so on and so forth. The characters are varied and interesting, somewhat compelling, but you often don’t get enough time to see these characters develop in any meaningful way.

Gameplay

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Fans of adventure games of yesteryear should rejoice, as the King’s Quest Collection allows you to go through the different eras of adventure games. From the amazing text-based adventures (“Talk to King”, “Eat Pillow”), to a much improved point and click style of adventure games. Although, if you’re used to King’s Quest I through to IV, you’re playing the games entirely with your keyboard, only to then play King’s Quest V using your mouse primarily. It doesn’t warn you of this switch, but that’s not a huge issue. It’s a new game after all! So if you’re looking to relive adventure game greatness from yesteryear, then this is the title for you!

However… We’re not talking about the individual King’s Quest titles. We’re here to talk about the collection. Unfortunately, on that front, nothing new has been added. Nothing interesting has been done. It’s just an attempt to cash in sadly and it feels that way. With many people on Steam reporting the game doesn’t work for them; with no word from the developers about what they could have done about this situation, it’s a rather unfortunate title. The individual games work as intended: Play as a character who has to meet requirements, through a usually pretty witty world and then to go and return specific objects to people at the start of the game. The games are fantastic for just dropping you in on it, so you’ll need to try to make sense of what’s going on. Pretty hard without the manuals!!! Fortunately, Sierra clearly saw this as a reason to set up an archive of all of their manuals. Thank you, Sierra. Here’s King’s Quest I for instance.

Graphics

As always, we believe seeing is believing here on GeekOut South-West, so we’ll let you see the games for yourself. I’ve got images from King’s Quest I through to V, so please do have a gander through to see the progress. I will say the graphics from King’s Quest V onwards are beautiful, so worth the look. The graphics in I through to III are pretty horrendous, but they made up for what they had in the day. You’ll notice they all say DosBox at the top: Don’t panic, nothing fraudulent is happening – This is the only way to play King’s Quest Collection, which is set up for you automatically upon purchase from Steam.

Sound

King’s Quest V OST – It’s great!

It’s not until the later games do the sound do anything for you. In King’s Quest I to III, the sound doesn’t do much for you. However in King’s Quest IV onwards, the quality of what you listen to improves drastically. Even better is King’s Quest V, when full voice acting is supported and with a fantastic narrator and great music to go with it. Well worth a listen – YouTube video above! The earlier games, I understand, were limited in their audio, simply due to the time that they were released. However, the fact that there was no effort put into just improving the sound quality for this collection was somewhat miffing. It’s not the hardest thing to improve: Albeit, the developers of this bundle were clearly going for the classic effect. They were trying to aim at those nostalgic fans who were looking to play the franchise for at least one more time. That’s not a bad thing – It just slightly alienates those who come into it, having heard great things about the franchise.

Overall

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I might have been a little bit harsh on this collection, but there’s good reason for it. I respect older games, as many people who frequent this website would be aware; I absolutely adore classics such as the original Monkey Island and Beneath A Steel Sky. With this in mind, it’s hard for me to critique the games individually so heavily. However, the games feel flat and they’re just not exciting at all because nothing new is happening. I can imagine that, with little else around, these games were the bees knees when they were first released. Heck: Sierra have worked on some incredible titles, hence my frustration here. There’s been no effort by the developers of this collection to make anything tidier, no effort to make anything better and, sadly, that they just don’t stand up well in this day and age. The fact that I have to go to a separate bunch of files to verify that I indeed own the game is backwards… Especially when I’d prefer to have the manuals. This should be built into the games, or at least into Steam where you can just see what you need. But the reason for this is the protection they had on these games were random. So give us the manuals like GOG do!

Of course, I’m not rating this down entirely on how it protects itself. The fact that all of the games are in this collection is a great thing. If you’re a fan of adventure games from the Golden Era of gaming, then this is certainly a title you need to pick up immediately. However, I find myself really let down. The lack of effort to make anything improved just makes me think they wanted to find a way to flog the proverbial dead horse. Leave it: Let people remember it. I’m happy that I got to experience these games at long last and feel they were amusing… But I don’t think I’ll be playing them again. They’re symbolic of gaming between the 80’s and 90’s. Some things are best left in the past. But that’s enough about what I think: What about you? Have you played any of the King’s Quest titles or even the collection? Does the lack of update not bother you? As always, leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

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