The third entry in the King’s Quest series takes a significant step in the direction of creating a more multi-dimensional world. Though the plot remains pretty basic, the story feels much more original than it did in the first two games. Gwydion’s struggle is more personal and unique than the more generic ones of Graham. What’s perhaps more important is how the gameplay and story become more closely intertwined. The addition of a time element represents an attempt to anchor interactivity to the linear nature of story. There are events that occur without the player’s doing. Mannanan’s unpredictable reappearances frustrate the player’s efforts, and not only add an element of realism, but also an element of tension and conflict. The player must battle an antagonist that acts (in some ways) like the player himself does.
Unfortunately, the real time element becomes less important as the game progresses. The game makes a somewhat awkward and underexplained transition and returns to the more traditional structure of its predecessors. It would have been nice to see the end section fleshed out more, with perhaps the conflict tying back in some way to Mannanan and Gwydion’s origins. Adding a real time element at the end would also have helped to create tension where it is needed most.
King’s Quest III takes major steps in shaping the King’s Quest universe into a unique one. Apart from the odd inclusion of the three bears, the game steers away from the direct adaptation of fairytales and instead contains characters that feel more at home with each other. The music this time is also mostly original. Graphically, the game is a major step up. The artwork is actually quite nice to look at in all its pixilated glory. Navigation is also drastically improved by the addition of the magic map that removes most of the tediousness of walking back and forth. We are also introduced to one of the best incorporations of copy protection that I’ve seen. The spells seamlessly fit in with the rest of the puzzles. The spells are also fun in how they allow the player to manipulate the game world in unusual ways.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Just Right