Good Knight, sweet prince
It’s been a long time coming, but developer The Odd Gentlemen’s lovingly-crafted reboot of the King’s Quest series is finally coming to a close. And though it feels like it’s taken forever for us to see the series’ long-awaited conclusion, now that the end is here, I wish King Graham’s quest could go on forever.
Goodbyes are never easy. And this episodic tribute to one of adventure gaming’s most memorable franchises has felt like a heartfelt reunion with a long lost friend. While it’s great to finally catch up, knowing this could be the last time you’ll ever see them is a bitter pill to swallow.
It’s only fitting that King’s Quest – Chapter 5: The Good Knight dwells heavily on this subject, as players guide Graham on one last grand adventure fit for a king. It’s a heartwarming episode that explores a wide range of emotions; from the jubilation that pure adventure brings, to the morose sensation that envelops you as you watch the light behind an aging loved one’s eyes begin to fade. It also deals on some heavier topics as an aging Graham’s memory fades and he struggles to piece together key moments of his life, relying on the keen memory of his granddaughter Gwendolyn to fill in the blanks.
As bittersweet as this finale is, it also represents a high point for the series. While the previous chapters have let puzzles fall to the wayside in favor of expanding on the narrative, Graham’s ultimate battle of wits with the nefarious Manny provides some of the series’ most challenging and cleverly constructed conundrums yet. These puzzles are plentiful, and you’ll often need to bust out a pencil and paper to tackle the logic challenges that The Good Knight throws your way. This is a huge improvement for the series – especially when you consider the disappointment that was Snow Place Like Home, which mostly had Graham and Alexander tracing glowing lines through a frozen dungeon.
That’s not to say Good Knight is without its problems. As I noted at the outset of this review, Graham’s memory is failing, and his tenuous grasp of reality factors into the way the world around him is presented. There were several points in the chapter where I journeyed into an area, only to find it had changed radically from the previous visit due to Graham’s memories bleeding together. Without knowing when this would occur, I found myself wasting a bit too much time blindly running around Daventry in hopes that I’d stumble across the next plot device to move things forward.
Though these few moments of frustration do crop up, The Good Knight’s occasional gaffes are never enough to derail the experience. Developer The Odd Gentlemen’s fantastic writing makes this episode feel incredibly personal. And you’ll be hard-pressed to put the controller down until the final curtain call on what’s quite possibly been the most overlooked adventure of the past generation. King Graham’s heartfelt encore is unforgettable, thanks in no small part to Christopher Lloyd’s outstanding performance as the aging king. Wallace Shawn also reprises his role as Manny, and the exchanges of dialog between those two monolithic talents that unfolds in the game’s final moments are unforgettable.
The Good Knight is a fitting end to one fantastic journey. It does a great job of tying up all of the story’s loose ends while setting the stage for a new generation of adventures. The chapter may suffer from the occasional misstep thanks to Graham’s fleeting grip on reality, but the focus on clever puzzles and masterful storytelling more than overshadow these minor issues. If you’ve found yourself invested in the previous entries in the series, King’s Quest’s final curtain call is one you won’t want to miss. Just be sure to keep the Kleenex close by. You’re gonna need it.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed); Publisher: Sierra Entertainment; Developer: The Odd Gentlemen; Release Date: October 25, 2016; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $9.99 per episode ($39.99 for the “Complete Collection”)
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PS4 review copy of King’s Quest: Snow Place Like Home provided by Sierra Entertainment.