Perhaps King’s Quest’s primitiveness is its major downfall, but it is also the game’s redeeming joy. The simple aesthetics evoke not only a medieval fantasy world but a world where graphic adventure games were born.
Admittedly, the gameplay and puzzles don’t provide much satisfaction in terms of problem solving. But there is a satisfaction, at times ironic, in discovering how the genre’s first designers decided to craft a puzzle. I would find the difficulty of climbing stairs annoying in a game now, but here I can’t help but be amused. It’s as if watching a child take her first steps.
The writing is sparse and shallow. Yet it is interesting to see how an old narrative form such as the fairytale is merged with a new one such as the graphic adventure game. One new thing that becomes apparent is the nonlinearity that adventure games offer. The game contains allusions to multiple fairytales, and those fairytales can arise in the game’s narrative in an order determined by the player. They can be interrupted and revisited and even be completed or left uncompleted to varying extents.
Sierra would later demonstrate the artistic possibilities of low-res, pixelated art. However, here the graphics are rather bland apart from a few inspired screens, such as the beanstalk. The PC speaker tunes, on the other hand, are a delight.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours