Did you know that it’s been nearly a year since the first episode of the King’s Quest reboot launched? Whilst there are some episodic games out there that bring out a new episode every month or so, The Odd Gentlemen have been taking their time with each of their releases. It shows too – each episode manages to feel completely different from the rest whilst still maintaining the charm that’s able to captivate the fans of the series.
The third episode of the reboot, King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb, is finally with us and this time it’s all about love. I mean, every King needs a Queen, right? Our hero King Graham never does things the easy way though and his quest for love sees him climbing a tower (which happens to be some sort of giant chicken monster?!) and, of course, getting imprisoned in the tower because of a curse. The only way to escape the tower and break the curse is through the power of ‘true love’ and fortunately the tower just so happens to be inhabited by two lovely Princesses. You can see where this is going, right?
So far we’ve helped Graham win a tournament to become a Knight and rescue his fellow townsfolk from goblin imprisonment – now we need to help him choose between two very worthy princesses to become his Queen. Wooing these Princesses won’t be easy though as they both have very different personalities – you’ll be trying to earn the love of either the cheerful and highly energetic Neese, or the more witty and competitive Vee.
This time around the gameplay primarily focuses on Graham performing different tasks to impress each of the Princesses. Will you help put away all of Neese’s possessions, or will you enjoy a competitive skill based puzzle with Vee? Will you bake a sweet treat for Neese, or will you offer a savoury pie to Vee? The choice is yours, though there’s a neat game of ‘Moral Quarrel’ that might help you make your decision.
Moral Quarrel is a game where you are presented with a moral dilemma and have to choose between one of two responses to how you would react. It might be something as simple as ‘what you would do if you caught an orphan someone stealing’ or something as silly as ‘would you rather be a dragon or have a pet dragon’. Once you’ve answered a question you then give the same question to a Princess of your choice – if they have the same response as you, you win a point. The pair who earn three points first are declared the winners.
You’ll play Moral Quarrel with both Princesses and given their very different personalities there’ll be mixed responses from each. It can help you determine which Princess is best suited for King Graham, but it can also backfire if the two Princesses manage to score three points and win themselves – they’re pretty close too, you know…
Whatever Princess you decide to pursue, King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb offers an enjoyable story that’s equally as charming as it is witty. We even start to learn a little more about Manny, the height-challenged Villain of the tale who has seemed to be lurking in the shadows since the conclusion first episode. It looks like his dissent towards King Graham is growing more and more, so it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to future episodes.
Whilst A Knight To Remember and Rubble Without A Cause both featured on a set of large interconnecting areas, King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb instead automatically sends you across a variety of different environments as different scenes unfold. You don’t spend too long in one area and don’t get to come back after finishing your scene there – it’s a change to the freely explorable area that have been found in the previous episodes of the game. It’s a nice change though and it certainly makes the game feel more streamlined, even if it does take away the sense of scale of the world around you.
The smaller scenes work well though with each one bringing enjoyable puzzles and genuinely funny interactions between characters. It’s not just puzzle solving either, with scenes where you’ll have to work together (competitively, of course) with Vee to shoot down goblins or even take a huge tumble down a hill trying to protect Neese from an array of thorn bushes. There’s plenty of action mixed in with the puzzling this time around, offering another unique experience to the King’s Quest reboot.
One area in which King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb has certainly improved over its predecessors is with how the game plays. When playing Rubble Without A Cause I noticed a few issues with the frame rate dropping and even some odd graphical glitches in cutscenes. There were no issues to be found here though with the game running perfectly from start to finish.
There seems to be a trend with The Odd Gentlemen’s King’s Quest reboot that each episode needs to offer something different. It’s certainly the case with King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb with the gameplay feeling very similar to Daventry’s own dating simulator this time around. The fact each episode plays so differently keeps everything fresh though, making sure the episodic releases don’t simply play the same each time – not that I’d mind all that much, given the length of time between each release.
I had an enjoyable time with King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb though, with the series seemingly improving with each new episode that releases. It’s got me excited to see what daring escapades King Graham will get up to next, but even more so how The Odd Gentlemen will approach it. If it’s anything like King’s Quest: Once Upon A Climb though I know it’ll be a damn good time.
– Another enjoyable adventure with King Graham
– The unique dating-sim twist on the gameplay
– Great puzzles and action scenes
– A genuinely funny script that entertains from start to finish
– Environments are smaller and offer less to explore
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen (www.funcom.com)
Publisher: Sierra (www.funcom.com) Activision
Release Date: 26/03/2016
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC