After a somewhat dubious curveball in its second episode, King’s Quest has found its bearings once again, tracing its route back to familiar territory. For those who need a recap, chapter two saw King Graham and his subjects taken from Daventry and thrown into the cells of a cavernous goblin underworld. Despite being peppered with flakes of the series’ zany humour it was a much darker affair by comparison, especially when juxtaposed with the revival’s flawless first episode.
Within just a few gutsy hours, The Odd Gentlemen had toyed with our emotions in the cruellest of ways, only to redeem themselves at the very end. Although a passable episode all round, it certainly left a bump or two as the series approaches its midway point. Chapter three, Once Upon a Climb, is much more familiar in tone, but isn’t a direct rehash of Gram’s first outing.
It feels as though The Odd Gentlemen are trying to achieve something different with each episode, as if looking to stretch King’s Quest across multiple genres. Where episode one taught us what it truly means to be a hero, its slightly harrowing sequel dealt with the harsh choices one must make when they find themselves in a position of power. Things are much more lighthearted this time around, as Gram goes in search of a who can rule over Daventry alongside him. It’s a delightful concoction that works to the series’ strengths, combining a renewed sense of adventure with a charming cluster of romantic comedy tropes.
In his quest to find true love we see the king leave his lonely castle, travelling to a far away land. Having glimpsed a vision in his magic mirror, he arrives before a vast tower, its tip piercing the cloudy skies above. It isn’t until after the ascent that Gram realises there isn’t one princess to be rescued, but two. To be honest, they’re both rather lovely but they have rather conflicting personalities. Where one is wise and quick-witted, the other is clumsy and excitable, but neither of them accepting Gram’s proposal upon his dramatic entry.
As expected, this humorous set-up creates a forking path for players to travel along in their quest to find the perfect bride. Choices are made, relationships advance, and by the end, a queen sits upon the throne of Daventry.
From start to finish, the journey lasts a few hours as you interact with the world around you. Where some parts are surprisingly high-octane and linear, others allow you explore more freely and take in your surroundings. Once again, each locale becomes a canvas for the series’ distinctive art style. There’s a charming hand painted aesthetic about King’s Quest that really helps to anchor its tone and spirit. The same can be said of its voice actors and how they inject each character with purpose and emotion.
While chapter three is mainly centred around Gram, it occasionally deviates and cuts away to other characters such as Manny, Chester, Muriel, and Hagatha – a reptilian crone that inhabits the high tower. Then there’s Gwendolyne and Old King Gram, who still remains bedridden. Through this cast of characters, The Odd Gentlemen continue to weave poignant moments into its narrative, creating a modern day fable of sorts. Amidst the galavanting and guffawing, King’s Quest has these profound and rather touching moments that can really tug at the heartstrings.