King’s Quest – Chapter 5 Review

A part of me didn’t want to finish King’s Quest. From the very beginning, it’s been touted as an episodic adventure game, charting the life of the lovably hapless King Graham. Over the past year, each episode has opened to a new chapter in his life: his trials as a knight, his struggles as a ruler, and his joy at becoming a husband and father. Each time we’ve come to revisit Daventry, there’s that niggling reminding that nothing can halt the relentless march of time.

Transitioning between episodes, there’s a little more grey in the temple, a little more length in Graham’s beard. Those characters around him also begin to feel their age, some eventually disappearing altogether. Although dead, King’s Quest never comes and says it outright – there are only subtle hints and a reminder that no one lives forever. Not even our heroes.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

Naturally, being the last episode in the series, The Good Knight is poised around this theme. Since the start of the series many months ago, Gram has been bedridden, recounting his marvellous adventures in the presence of Gwendolyn, his granddaughter. It’s only when we snap back to the king’s bedchamber that we’re reminded he doesn’t have much time left.

That becomes immediately apparent as we enter the finale. His dictation becomes more confused and laboured as he struggles to find the words. That same enthusiasm and gusto isn’t there as he tries to piece together blurred memories, characters and locations appearing differently as players navigate Daventry. These moments can make the game uncomfortable from time to time, though this is purely intentional. Anyone who has ever had to watch a loved one wrestle with the blight of old age can relate: helpless, all we could do is watch as a little bit of that person is chipped away, one tragic piece at a time.

k15-2

Although keen on delivering an emotional end to their reboot, The Odd Gentlemen help to lighten the mood with the usual nuggets of goofy humour. The variety of gameplay segments also help in keeping our minds off those unavoidable closing scenes. Where individual episodes have each ran with a certain theme, The Good Knight blends them all into one, cherry picking certain puzzles and sequences as the story unfolds.

What works best, however, is the way in which everything comes full circle. Much like episode one, there’s an overriding focus on that original adventure game format. Sure, there’s some backtracking to tussle with but this is easily outweighed by the sense of reward that comes from solving the many environmental puzzles. Bar one or two, they aren’t quite as cryptic though some will require you to think outside the box.

This all ramps up to a final showdown with Manannan, the series’ lead villain. Since the start he’s continued to plot against Gram in a bid to take Daventry for his own. It has to be said that this rivalry is actually one of the weaker parts of the reboot. The constant need to move between eras with each passing chapter actually has a damaging effect on the overall narrative.

It feels as though the majority of characters are simply frozen in time between episodes, only to carry on with what they were doing before having made little to no progress. Some of the series’ most charming and memorable secondary characters are shortchanged in this respect. Those first two chapters did a great job in introducing them, revealing potential story arcs that simply get cut off and discarded when they stop showing up in later episodes.

kq5-1

The final minutes of the game aren’t delivered with quite as much punch as I was expecting though still manage to be poignant. And then there’s one scene, about two third into the episode, that really brought a lump to my throat as Gram begins to realise there is no cheating death.

The Good Knight is a bittersweet end to what has been one of the more interesting, unconventional games to adopt the episodic format. While some ideas have fallen short, that hasn’t stopped The Odd Gentlemen from experimenting in their attempts to trick, beguile, and enchant gamers.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –
Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.