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What game have you just finished?

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As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that was the reason why Francisco Gonzalez didn’t publish the game with WEG, probably Dave Gilbert’s meddling make him going his way.

I loved his games he did publish with Wadjet. Too bad he didn’t get Lamplight City published by them, it probably would have sold more copies. However, yes, I’m sure Dave would have made substantial changes to make the game play like the rest of Wadjets releases.

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**THIS POST IS KQ VI SPOILER HEAVY**

I just finished King’s Quest VI: To Heir Is Human for the 3rd or 4th time.

Hoo boy, do I have mixed feelings about this game. Where to even begin?

The highs! Okay, this game contains scenes that are the absolute apex, the acme, the pinnacle, the tippy-top, of the adventure game golden age. Meeting Death in the the Land of the Dead, and the narrative-descriptive poetry that oozes from every crevice of that land and every single line of dialog. Instigating a mud-slinging fight between a Stick In The Mud, a Bump On A Log, and a Rotten Tomato. A genie who gets high on breath mints. Vanquishing a quasi-Satanic minotaur to rescue a damsel in distress. Dying to fool a genie. The Voice of the Beast meeting The Beast, in an exceptionally well written adventure game sub-plot.
Also: Of all the KQ games from 1 - 6, this is the one in which every denizen of the world feels like a ‘real’ person/creature, not just a plot or puzzle device.
The voice acting is great, across the board.
The artwork and animation are some of the best of the era.
The story strikes the perfect balance between high-stakes and serious, and charming and humorous.
The puzzles are layered splendidly, so that if barking up one tree is not yielding any results, you can go bark up another tree for awhile and see if you can make progress there.
Despite the fact that you spend the whole game exploring the same screens on the same five islands from start to finish, it still feels like a great adventure.
The script, again, is wonderful.

So far so good, here are the bummers:

The game penalizes you for doing the right thing. Big time. There is a point where you can trade in your shoddy old found lamp for the lamp you need to beat the game. If you do that as soon as possible, perhaps because you are afraid that, this being a Sierra game, you’ll be stuck in a dead man walking situation if you don’t(!!!), you will not be able to access the best scenes in the game and the good ending. Boy did that stink.
Once you learn your lesson there, make sure not to miss the very easily missable key being held by one of the gatekeepers in the Land of the Dead. If you do, better hope you’ve got a ‘convenient’ save game from an hour or two ago, or you’re screwed. As if having to go back an hour or two isn’t bad enough.
Basically, this game has *more* dead ends than KQ 5, and they are even less obvious, I think.
Yes, KQ V is chock full of utter nonsense, such as the padlock in the inn’s cellar being on your side of the door, but unless you ate the pie and didn’t notice that you lost points (really, why eat that pie if you’re not prompted to?), the only stupidity that really ruins your game is the boot and cat thing.
KQ VI is LOADED with things that you can miss that will put you into the walking dead zone, and you will never ever know until it is much too late, and you’ve wasted hours wandering around looking for a solution before you finally reach for a walk through.

Look, ultimately, this is a 90’s Sierra adventure game. This stuff is to be expected. But KQ VI is often purported to be the one that finally got it right, the one that (with the exception of the meta-puzzle of choosing the correct lamp) did away with the nonsense and started to veer closer to the Lucas Arts no dead ends school of design, and that is not the case at all.

In many ways—plot, acting, graphics, script writing—it’s a far better game than any of the KQ’s that came before it. But make no mistake, this is still an old school Sierra adventure game, through and through, and if you’re not into that old school Sierra adventure game challenge, where failure is success because it’s a learning experience, then you can expect quite a frustrating experience.

One last note on the diverging paths/separate endings aspect of the game. I *love* the idea of having a ‘consolation’ prize version of the game—hey, you didn’t play optimally, but you can still win…and please come back again soon to see the whole game and get the good ending. That would be SWELL in this game, if not for the fact that you can force yourself into the consolation prize version of the game by doing the right thing too soon. This was a huge oversight on the behalf of the developer, and one that could have been so so so easily avoided, by just not having the lamp trader show up until after you solved the rainmaking puzzle.

Anyway, Final Score: 8.5/10 if you are up for an old fashioned Sierra challenge, and consider reloading and retrying part of the holistic adventure game puzzle; 7/10 if you’re not and you don’t.

 

     

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Baron_Blubba - 15 March 2021 06:35 PM

Speaking of good villains AND games I just finished, I very recently finished A Plague Tale: Innocence. Not a point-and-click adventure game, but a very adventuresome game.

I really like A Plague Tale.  It was a lot longer and higher quality than I expected.  I guess I thought it was an indy game, but it’s actually by the developer who made The Crew, which is a pretty big name open world racing game.  That said, this is not really an adventure game as it has a limited amount of mandatory combat and even boss fights.  But I guess the combat does have a sort of puzzle feel to it, since you play a physically weak character who has to rely on using the right gadget at the right time to win or avoid fights. 

The voice acting was all excellent.  Again, I was kind of expecting it to be a very melodramatic, emotionally manipulative brother/sister story.  but it wound up being a lot more complex and nuanced (Although it is a little grimdark).  And it definitely lives up to being a horror puzzle game.  Trudging deep into the rat infested environments was quite spooky. 

You start out thinking this is just going to be a historical drama about the inquisition and the black plague.  But then it takes a much more Lovecraftian turn.  This is the black plague if certain people possessed an ancient blood curse that gave them the ability to psychically control rats.  It’s a very weird and bizarre horror story that’s long enough for you to get attached to the characters.  I love it. 

The gameplay is mainly based around sneaking and manipulating rats.  You have many gadgets to manipulate rats.  Rats will avoid fire, so there are gadgets to light torches/bonfires, douse fires, break lanterns.  Rat catnip (ratnip?) forces rats to move to certain spot temporarily, etc.

The gameplay was was fun, but also definitely kind of annoying and frustrating at times.  And there were a lot gameplay elements I wish they had just done away with.  Like the stupid crafting.  Why the hell does a game like this need to have crafting?!  You could skip the upgrade crafting entirely and not really miss anything.  I guess the one benefit is that the ammo crafting forces you to be creative and use a different gadget to progress past an obstacle if you don’t have the crafting materials needed to use the obvious one. 

Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it.

     
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Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it

Sounds like a great adventurous game. I take a Liberal view of what’s an adventure game and to me this is the perfect place to discuss this game. I will have to buy and play it myself.

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russ869 - 09 April 2021 10:34 PM

Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it.

I agree with everything in your post, Russ. Sounds like we had very similar expectations and experiences. I knew the game was supposed to be pretty, but I didn’t know just how gorgeous it would be. I thought this was just a very well made indie title. Turns out, it’s got AAA production values, with the intimate scope and personality of a great indie game.

I was not expecting it to be so combat heavy, though. I mean, it’s relatively pacifistic, but I assumed that every scene in the game would be an environmental puzzle or a stealth puzzle. Rather, there are quite a few scenes where confrontation is necessary. Even in these situations, the confrontation is rarely head on; there is usually a puzzle element involved, such as the order in which you attack the enemies, but it’s still much less of a pure stealth puzzler than I was expecting.
Since I read as little as possible about games before playing them, I didn’t know what to expect as far as the rats go. I knew they would figure prominently, but not how they would do so. The first time I encountered them in their full swarming fury is one of the cooler moments in a game that I can remember. Throughout, they serve as an interesting and crucial mechanic, and as an interesting, crucial, and creepy set piece.

Still don’t like being played by games that force me to do things that neither I nor the main character would actually do. It’s a cheap way to elicit emotions from the player. But for all of the forced guilt, there are several legitimately lovely and heartfelt moments. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics and camaraderie between this band of kids who were brought together by tragic circumstances.

     

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