With a bow, cape, and his trusty (perhaps iconic) cap, Sir Graham enters a cave riddled with spare beds and a slumbering dragon. This odd story is only one of many being told in King’s Quest, the ambitious rekindling of the decades-old adventure series.
Although the new King’s Quest is coming to PS4 and PS3 later this year, I was treated to an early look by none other than Matt Korba, the president and creative director of The Odd Gentlemen. Korba’s reverence of the original series resonates behind his every word, and that reverence translates into a charming, colorful adventure about an old king and a curious granddaughter.
Graham, the aging protagonist and storyteller, narrates the plot as he explains his past adventures to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. This allows the team at The Odd Gentlemen to skim across different timelines, exploring a narrative in the past and “present” simultaneously. And like its predecessors, King’s Quest remains a story-driven experience, in which players interact with the world around them, solve puzzles, and live out Graham’s adventures in comical (and touching) fashion.
While Korba never explained why there were a legion of discarded beds in the dragon’s cave, he hinted that everything would be revealed over time, even in small details like a discarded arrow nestled into the cave wall.
In the dragon’s lair, Graham is trying to reclaim a magic mirror from the dragon’s clutches. If he fails to hide in a bed on time, he plays a role in a light-hearted “death scene.” But of course, since King Graham is actually alive and well doing narration, he quips that he was just making sure Gwendolyn is still awake.
Later in the demo, Korba skipped ahead to a later section of the story which takes place before Sir Graham was even a knight. With a little less resolve and a lot less skill, Graham is attempting to cross a river in order to attend a knight’s tournament. This introduces yet more puzzles, tasking players with finding creative ways to ford the fast-flowing water and reach the arena.
Korba explained that their design is heavily inspired by Ken and Roberta Williams’ original philosophies, which form a pyramid of sorts between art, story, and gameplay. They strive for a balance between these three elements. This is clear in The Odd Gentlemen’s vision, as even simple gameplay animations showcase Graham’s personality; his pitiful attempts to fire an arrow, or a stumble while lifting a heavy gear into place.
While players can lead Graham to a variety of fictional deaths, there are no actual “dead ends” or fail states outside of “try it again.” Korba wants King’s Quest to click with families; not just children, not just adults, but the whole bunch. And with such a charming story and enticing artistic direction, the studio looks well poised to live up to the enormous expectations set by the project’s legacy.