So here we are at the end of the road. It’s been a long journey, over a year since I played and reviewed the first episode in this epic saga. There have been laughs, adventure, puzzle solving, songs, trolls, goblins and a dragon. There have been some brilliant chapters, some very good chapters and one goodish chapter. Overall, I’ve loved my time with King Graham and the story of his life, adventures and family. So does the final chapter in his journey live up to the high expectations of the series? Will it make me cry and wail at the loss of this franchise? Or will I just shrug my shoulders, delete it from my hard drive and go play Battlefield instead?
I warn you now, when reading this review I’m going to give you just one spoiler. Not a spoiler to ruin your experience, but a warning… you’re going to need a hanky when playing this final chapter.
The story now takes us to the aged old King Graham who’s been telling the story of his life to his granddaughter. But now there is no longer a younger Graham in the yarn. There’s just the older version in his final quest to save the Kingdom and defeat his arch nemesis, Mannie. Along the way, the storyteller gets confused as he’s on his deathbed dying and bits of the story he’s telling become patchy or unfinished. The developers do this in a truly imaginative way with shifting landscapes, unstable colour palates, or different open possibilities in the gameplay. There’s one section when most of the map is just white except for the odd part of colour and detail that represents all that Graham can remember. This is a little piece of genius from Sierra and The Odd Gentlemen. The whole story around someone not being able to do the things they used to because of age and illness is neatly drawn upon here and deeply sad. The frustration the voice-over has when you make a wrong decision has added meaning in this wonderfully crafted story. It has ended the saga brilliantly with a fitting end episode, neatly tying up the loose ends and providing an epilogue that is downbeat until that little bit of hope that hints of the next saga to come.
Gameplay wise it’s the same thing as we are used to from the previous chapters. You walk around the map, picking up objects, conversing in dialogue trees, doing a lot of puzzles and using your brain. The main bulk of this chapter is in the puzzle and by all that is holy, there are some real hard ones here. There was a music box puzzle that had me so stuck, so flummoxed, that I emailed the developer to tell them that the game is broke and I can’t move forward. Thanks to the wonderful internet, I did move forward, but that puzzle nearly made me give up on this story and never find out what happened to King Graham. That would have been a deep shame as the gameplay is, as always, intriguing, dynamic and at times highly original. There’s a part later on in the game when King Graham is under the influence of a mind controlling hallucinogenic and he is taken into a meta universe of old school King’s Quest games with its 8 bit and 16 bit iconic worlds. This is a brilliant moment that sums up the creative brilliance of the developers for me throughout this whole series.
I have talked about this saga and the way it’s presented in all my other reviews. I have praised the ability in which the game makes you feel like you’re involved in a Disney movie. Things are not any different in this chapter, with its colourful world and dazzlingly drawn characters. There are no new characters or locations in this chapter, but the places that you visit have changed with age and changed with the game decisions you’ve made throughout the series.
Sound wise the game is as exemplary as ever. The music score is used with great verve and excitement, with a beautifully sad piano solo used effectively at the end of the game. The sound effects are great which highlight the cartoon nature and influence of the franchise. With regards the voice-over work, the standard has always been very high. We lose the excellent voice of the younger Graham and now just focus on Christopher Lloyd as the older king. His work is superb as he delivers a fitting final performance to a great character that brings pathos, comedy and wit.
Overall, this game,and this chapter in particular, is a great addition and perfectly ends the tale that I have played and enjoyed over the last year. I have loved being entertained by the exploits of King Graham and I really feel he has taken me on an emotional journey. I really do envy the people who will play all five chapters together in one sitting, because they’re in for a treat. Maybe the puzzles and trails can be too tricky, leaving you feeling lost at times, bewildered and stupid, but most of the time you’ll be playing with a big smile across your face.
Long live King’s Quest.