I grew up with much adoration for Sierra's creative, fantastical King's Quest adventure games. So it was with great pleasure I got to check out The Odd Gentlemen's new sequel to the series at GDC 2015. The section of the game I checked out involves a young king Graham crossing a river to gain access to a tournament that will help him gain knighthood. But just like any good adventure game, things aren't quite that simple.
The story of this new King's Quest spans multiple eras of Graham's life, from boyhood, to his time as ruler, up to his twilight years telling his granddaughter all about his royal exploits. When acting out the tales of Graham's past, players determine how those events really played out, which will affect how the young, impressionable Gwendolyn is influenced by him. Was he the kind of king that would evade a chained-up dragon, sympathetically free it, or kill it?
One such flashback involves a gangly, less-confident Graham as he tries to gain access to a tournament testing the mettle of would-be knights. But since the bridge is out, the first thing Graham has to do is find a way across. Fair warning, if you don't want to know anything about the game's puzzles ahead of time, be warned of possible spoilers.
Before Graham can even get near the bridge, he needs to find a way past the guards posted to keep fools from falling off the broken passage. I don't want to completely give the solution to this puzzle away, but it involves a set of egotistical guards, a dip in the river, and a conveniently placed beehive. I won't tell you how Graham links these things together in a convenient way, but it ends the guards getting humorously distracted.
With the first obstacle done with, Graham moves onto solving the problem of getting past the busted bridge. Graham already has a hatchet in his inventory from an earlier event where he cut down a tree, and he's eager to put those skills to test again. He begins hacking away at a big tree so that it might conveniently fall across the gap and act as an impromptu bridge. No dice, though. A hulking man in plated armor pushes Graham aside, effortlessly pushes the tree over to the other side, and beats all the others across. He then kicks the tree down into the river, which floats downstream.
Next up, Graham finds a rope that might work for finding a way across. But again, before he can even try anything a skill archer yanks the rope from Graham, ties it to an arrow, and handily creates a tightrope bridge across the chasm. Of course, he dismantles it once across, but at least Graham is able to pocket the rope this time.
Two more knights find additional methods to beat Graham across the river in unique fashions, making his efforts look hopeless in the process. Eventually, all he's left with is his trusty hatchet, a rope, and the tree, which has washed up nearby on shore. What would you do if you were Graham and wanted to get across?
My hands-off look at King's Quest ended there. I'm impressed with the episodic, downloadable title's art style, sense of humor, and clever puzzle design. I'm also impressed how even after abandoning point-and-click controls and letting players control Graham directly, it still has an unmistakable King's Quest vibe. I can't wait to experience all the ways The Odd Gentlemen manage to test Graham and players' ingenuity when the first chapter hits this fall.
For more on King's Quest, read our interview with the original creators.