YOU know those films that are supposed to be for babysitting children, but adults love them even more?
You know — the kind you end up watching in a bachelor pad on your own? Five times? Where the only thing being nursed is a beer? Ahem.
Well, King’s Quest is a bit like that, in gaming form. It’s rare that a game manages the charm, humour and storytelling of a top-notch Dreamworks or Sony Pictures Animation movie, but that’s exactly what King’s Quest does. Some games make you laugh, but few will win you over so completely as this.
The first episode starts with a cold open (no, that wasn’t the beer), as you are immediately given control over a spindly cartoon youth standing by a well.
He looks like a cross between Flint Lockwood, from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Guybrush Threepwood, from Monkey Island. After some brief exploring, you drop down into the well, wondering to yourself what the purpose of this ropey adventure is — are you about to kick the bucket?
Then, a voice kicks in. It’s a rich, gravelly voice, the kind a grandfather would have. He starts to tell a story: “I’d not been back there in years, but it was the last place left to look.”
It’s the voice of a king, who really is a grandfather after all, telling his granddaughter about the time he retrieved a magic mirror from a cranky old dragon. “It wasn’t quite like I remembered it,” he says, referring to the cavern below the well, “but it wasn’t so different either.”
The name of the king is Graham, and King’s Quest is his fairytale story. In each of the three episodes released to date (the fourth is out soon), King Graham narrates a significant memory from his eventful life. And in each case, you are controlling the young king as the memory plays out.
Like most modern adventure games, some of the choices you make will affect the story later. Do you blind the dragon as you escape, a vengeful act that will cause problems later, or do you simply distract the creature while you leave?
The pantomime humour is what makes King’s Quest utterly charming, with oddball characters a plenty, but it’s the way the whole package comes together that makes the game a triumph. The animation is simply brilliant, a Dreamworks film come to life, yet the controls never feel clunky or forced.
The writing is fantastic — but matched by top notch voice acting. And while action segments are usually the death of adventures games, here they bring the game to life in unexpected ways. Firing a bow and arrow, for example, is handled just like a traditional first-person shooter and works perfectly.
King’s Quest may not be the most difficult adventure game in the world, but it’s a truly modern rendition of the old-school genre that conjures up comparisons to Shrek or Tangled. It’s the kind of game children or a non-gaming partner will enjoy — but not bachelors with a beer. No way.
Meanwhile, in the quest for more money, Sony will officially make an announcement tomorrow about a new console and its pricing.
The console will either be the PS4 Slim, a smaller version of the existing PS4, or the Playstation Neo, a more powerful version of the PS4 designed to enhance VR experiences.
It’s more likely to be the PS4 Slim — a version of which was already leaked to the public last month and has been pictured and analysed in high detail.
Either way, both consoles are coming to a shop near you soon.
CHUCKLES WITH DARA
While the PlayStation Neo takes a step forward, Dara Ó Briain is going retro.
His new gaming show, Go 8-Bit, started on British channel Dave on Monday night.
It pits ‘celebrities’ against comedians at various video games — the first episode included Tetris, Chuckie E Egg and Tekken.
Seeing David James beaten at Tekken was worth the time alone.
While the premise is shaky, the end result is surprisingly entertaining.
Ó Briain is hilarious as ever, ably joined by his co-host Ellie Gibson (a former Eurogamer colleague of this writer) and a live studio audience really adds to the atmosphere.
It won’t appeal to non-gamers, but in this case, that’s probably the whole point. The first episode is free to stream online.
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