King’s Quest V, you crazy so-and-so.
If you’ve never played “King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!”, there’s a chance you are new to the genre. In that case: this is kind of like the Sierra Necronomicon. It will have a lasting impact on you, namely insanity. Perhaps you’ll put it down before the damage is done. I did not, this is my tale.
King Graham is a man with a knack for adventure. He’s not the type to let governing or parenting get in the way of a good quest. Sometimes he’s driven by ambition, or the suggestions of a talking mirror, but in this case, adventure just falls into his lap.
King’s Quest V has a strong beginning. From the moment the opening credits roll, you get the Sierra guarantee of excellence in entertainment. Does it last? Well, it remains cinematic. It has a lot of problems, though.
The first issue is a character named Cedric. People hate this little dude, for a number of reasons. Some argue that his entire presence is a blight. I have no problems with this particular owl, though I won’t argue against his critics. Because they are correct. I would say, in Cedric’s defense, that he is not a dissonant, but rather a part of the weird tapestry that is KQ5.
The second issue is the presence of death screens and dead ends. They’re not just present, they hide behind obscure puzzle sequences and wanton timed events. You will have no idea what hit you. Whether by quick poison or delayed effect; you get stuck, or Graham gets killed.
The third is more or less a King’s Quest staple. Like Cedric, it’s just part of the experience to me. But it’s worth mentioning: this game is somewhat tonally confused. We get a narrator, speaking for Graham, telling us of his emotional struggle with the whole situation, but our good King himself seems barely fazed and rather into this new pursuit.
The whole ordeal leads to an ending that (inadvertently) drives home this point, with one of the most deranged zingers I’ve ever come across in an adventure game.
Here is a question you should ask yourself before playing this game. Do I want to have fun? Do I want to visit a piece of adventure game history? Or do I want the King’s Quest V experience?
If you’ve checked box one/two, use a walkthrough. Maybe click through every scene with Cedric. If you go for option three, you have been warned. Suddenly, you may find yourself going off on a tangent about “moon logic” for no apparent reason at all. Chances are you’ll fall into a cycle, subjecting yourself to punishing puzzles, insisting this is some kind of fun diversion for you. You might end up writing reviews like this one.
Is it worth it?
Read the review »
Time Played: Over 20 hours