King’s Quest: Mask Of Eternity review

The Good:
  • Intricate 3D graphics
  • Reasonably fun
The Bad:
  • Uninteractive environments
  • Uninspired voice acting
  • And nonexistant replay value

Just when you thought it was safe to play another King’s Quest game, designer Roberta Williams decided to change everything with the series’ eighth, and perhaps final, installment. Featuring real-time combat, 3D graphics and a hero outside of the series’ famous royal family, King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity is a significant departure from the previous seven games.

When the global icon of truth and light—the fabled Mask of Eternity—is broken into several pieces and scattered across the world, a young man named Conner must embark on a dangerous quest to reunite the pieces and restore order to the land. Conner, it seems, is the only human in Daventry who hasn’t been turned to stone by the Mask’s spell, and the fate of the world rests on his shoulders.

The adventure soon sprawls well beyond the familiar kingdom to new lands and other dimensions. Conner must overcome countless tests of courage and ingenuity in his quest. In a sharp change in tone from past installments, he must also wield swords, axes, bows, and more to defeat hordes of dangerous monsters intent on stopping him.

Mask has all the makings of a truly great adventure, but unfortunately it also feels like a game caught between two genres, unable to fully succeed in either. Sierra promised a fully immersive world to explore, but Mask has surprisingly limited interactivity. Conner can take or manipulate only a small fraction of the things he encounters. Even more surprising is the limited number of objects that are accompanied by verbal descriptions (or at the very least, explanations as to why Conner won’t take them). It’s frustrating to try something only to have it fail without the game even acknowledging your efforts.

Mask’s graphics are a mixed bag, too. The option to toggle between third-person and first-person views is handy, and the landscapes are eerie and exciting. But the characters all look strangely blocky, and the graphics engine seems to fail frequently, allowing characters to walk through walls or lose and regain body parts at random intervals.

Another problem is the interface itself. Now that combat has found its way into the once light-hearted series, it is surprisingly difficult to control Conner as he hacks and slashes his way to victory. The controls are complicated and the options far too numerous—I sometimes felt like I could use a few extra hands to attack, defend, replenish my health, and change the camera angle all at the same time.

This is not to say that Mask is all bad. The story itself is interesting, as are the different lands Conner must travel to find and recover the missing pieces of the Mask. The puzzles are also nicely mixed between the cerebral and the physical. You’ll go from leaping across a wide chasm one moment to uncovering a secret passage the next. There is a good balance, and the puzzles become more plentiful and intriguing as the story progresses.

Unfortunately, this is offset by the fact that Conner himself is one of the least remarkable heroes in recent memory. He is stiff, boring, and frequently just plain irritating. Whereas the heroes of the previous King’s Quest games had interesting and often amusing personalities, Conner seems completely devoid of any personality at all. His lines are short, stilted bits of medieval-sounding English, and he lacks the innocent humor you might expect from a King’s Quest hero.

Mask of Eternity suffers most from what could have been its greatest strength. The game was a hybrid of the newer, real-time action-type games and the more traditional puzzle-solving adventure games of old. Putting the two together sounded good, and the idea is one that will hopefully be explored more successfully in the future. What happens with Mask, though, is that the game doesn’t quite succeed in being either a pure adventure or a pure actioner, so it fails trying to be both. The fights are complicated and boring, and while many of the puzzles are good, other important trademarks of a good graphic adventure—good conversations and a fully interactive environment, for example—are noticeably absent.

Mask is enjoyable despite its faults, but not as enjoyable as it could and should be. If Sierra some day decides to extend the King’s Quest series beyond this eighth installment, Mask will likely be remembered as the transition game from one phase to the next. It's a little rough, but you have the feeling that next time Sierra could build from it and deliver a much better game. If this is it for the series, though, it will likely be remembered as an unsuccessful effort to save an important icon of computer game history.


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Comments

Ursulla
Dec 22, 2007

I have just completed this title and here are my impressions :
My final score : 98
My final verdict : Zounds ! what a rush,hark mates,verily that’s the real jewel of the crown (that’s how the hero talks,prepare your dictinaries)
What is this game all about ? : 1)First of all it is RPG which you assume the role of a paladin :in this portion of the game you raise your level by gaining experience.You collect money for trade,you always look for better armor and weapons,you fight both with malee and projectile weapons.You use 8 kinds of potions for healing,shielding.strength,invisibility and a potion to discover invisible objects and creatures.
2)Second it is an action adventure : in this section of the game you can run,smash and push objects,climb up or down structures using a grappling hook,you can jump or run and jump much farther and the best move is doing a flip jump backwards.You can carry heavey rocks to trigger pressure plates.You also use a magic map to navigate and teleport from one world to another.ALL of these movements are needed to solve puzzles.The majority of puzzles in the game will need some kind of phisical action.(There isn’t a gamepad support)
3)It is also the usual point and click adventure…The minority of the puzzles will require your brain…
4)It is also a Shooter… sometimes you want to explore indoor for closer examination and sometimes it is better to shoot from afar and for better accuracy…In those instances it’s better to change to first point of view…
Numbe of times I needed a walkthrough : Twice ,the first puzzle was how to open a grate with a missing lever…you will need both luck (which I hadn’t)to find the right spot and imagination (which I had )as to what to do there….the second puzzle was how to open a door with no mechanism what so ever….you will find the solution only with luck….I have finished the game at level 55…
A gem : Top-notch sountrack,sound effects and voice acting.
Cool stuff : 1)Busting skulls with a flying hummer…
2)Shooting at evil trees in the swamp will make them laugh at you in contempt…
3)Slaying a spitting-fire giant snake which you can’t harm with your oridnary weapons…(I’ll bet you haven’t done this for a while)
Spookey : You are in a swamp,only your torso is above water,you can barely walk,you are surrounded by mist,you can’t tell which is alive and which is a plant….each move can trigger somthing hostile…eerie music freezes your blood…suddenly your hear (from behind you) or see bubbles coming directly at you…now don’t just stand there like a goof do something for crying out loud…and if you don’t the next thing you’ll see is taken directly from Spielberg the opening scene of Jaw number 1….
Most adorable character : The healer from the Barren Region (Just ask her to heal you…)
My advice : Don’t play this game on your laptop nor your cell phone neither on your watch…It will be wasted…

ghettodoghammer
Feb 9, 2011

More like Quest for Glory than King’s Quest, if you ask me.

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