(Review archived from March 6, 2015)
King’s Quest I: Quest for the Crown represents one of my earliest exposures to PC gaming proper. Although I had my trusty NES console growing up (and much later an SNES that I saved up enough money to purchase myself), I never had my own computer until I entered college. So any exposure I had to PC gaming as a young person came in the form or stolen glimpses at friends’ houses coupled with occasional chances at actual play time. As a result, many of these early adventure games like this one still have this mystical quality of ‘otherness’ for me, as if I’m still an outsider looking in at these incredible yet inaccessible worlds.
So it’s with a very odd sense of nostalgia that I’m finally embarking into the King’s Quest series, although I suppose it is somewhat interesting in a meta-textual sense that I’ve opted to play the AGDInteractive remake rather than the actual version of Kings Quest I remember seeing as a kid. Meta textual mumbo jumbo aside, I had almost forgotten about this fan effort, and I’m extremely glad I had the spark of memory because this is a beautiful and lovingly rendered tribute to the original.
As far as graphical adventure games go, this is of course one of the progenitors; so while it’s clear that they were still figuring out (one might say defining) the way a graphical adventure should work, it’s remarkably held up quite well. There are certainly some puzzles that are non sequiturs (the Rumpelstiltskin thing is a bit of a stretch even with the visual clues in place), but most of them can be sussed out with a bit of exploration of surroundings. In terms of gameplay, the interface is fine for what it is, although if gaming forum posts are to be believed, the notorious condor grab is actually a bit harder in the AGDI version of the game.
One rather amazing update in the AGDInteractive version of KQI is that there is full audio voice work for all narration and character dialog. This is one of those features that was really quite amazing at first, but I’m afraid the novelty wore off rather quickly. Despite the fact that AGDI enlisted the vocal talents of Josh Mandel who voiced King Graham in the official release of King’s Quest V and VI, I’m afraid most of the voice work here chews up the scenery in glorious fashion … but oh that lush, beautiful scenery. No problem I think to myself, I’ll just turn the VO off … and that’s where I hit a roadblock. You can turn the VO audio down, but you can’t turn it completely off. It’s not game ruining, but at a certain point I definitely would have preferred to simply read everything, rather than listen to yet another line of flat lifeless delivery. Still … the graphical overhaul that AGD Interactive has created here is really something marvelous, and IMO it far outweighs any qualms I might have with the voice acting.
I look forward to journeying onward into the world of King’s Quest, and I’ll definitely be continuing on with the AGDInteractive releases of KQ II and III. I highly recommend these releases for adventure gamers, as well as for those like me who are just starting the King’s Quest series.