King's Quest: Chapter 4 - Snow Place Like Home (PC) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 06.10.2016

Review for King

Continuing where it last left everyone, The Odd Gentlemen presents King's Quest: Chapter 4. This series is a reboot of the King's Quest franchise, which grew to fame on the DOS operating system. It was a point-and-click adventure game series following the exploits of the King of Daventry, Graham, and a couple of other characters in a world full of whimsy and lots of random deaths. So far, the reboot has done a pretty good job of giving the franchise a restart in the modern gaming world, but how does the newest chapter hold up?

Chapter 4 tells of King Graham's son, Alexander. During one frightful night, Alexander is kidnapped as a baby by none other than the main series bad guy, "Manannan." The game gets going upon the return of Alexander to the palace in Daventry. Alexander has escaped Manannan and this chapter explores his relationship with Graham and the rest of the royal family. In order to bring everyone together happily, the whole family goes on a winter vacation to Avalon, where it's expected to be warm and sunny, but, unfortunately, when they arrive, Avalon is frozen over completely and where the hotel used to be is now an icy labyrinth filled with mind bending puzzles.

Screenshot for King's Quest: Chapter 4 - Snow Place Like Home on PC

This chapter focuses highly on the characters and their interactions, which is definitely the strength of the reboot. Graham is still happy-go-lucky, but he goes through an 18-year phase of looking for his missing son, which shows a more serious, sad side to him as he ages. Alexander struggles to fit into his new/old family after his life with Manannan, and clashes with Graham frequently over the course of the story about his magical abilities. Graham's daughter and Graham himself share a love for adventure and thrilling tales. The dynamics between them are really fun to watch and interact with. To begin with, Graham and his son work together to solve the puzzles, but in the middle they split up and gradually, as Graham moves forwards, it becomes more obvious that something's wrong.

That's not to say that the bad guys are neglected. Manannan, the sphynx and the Ice Queen are all interesting characters, with a little intrigue, not to mention at least one of them is truly evil. The interactions between the "goodies" and "baddies" is great, the actors do a top job of building a subtle tone of mistrust, except in Graham, who just thinks it's all fun and games. There are also NPC ice people around the palace - these guards are fairly entertaining to interact with, even though they themselves only have intelligible dialogue.

Screenshot for King's Quest: Chapter 4 - Snow Place Like Home on PC

The gameplay this time revolves around puzzles. Some people will find it very repetitive, but, frankly, every puzzle is different, even if some of them are similar themes. They usually involve sorting out blocks to create a path from point A to point B. Some of these involve directing Alexander to push blocks around, with slight variations on the solutions and methods.

Even though they can be a little bit of a slog, it feels like this was deliberate, but it never gets too repetitive or unbearable, as each room features new character interactions and a new puzzle device, from shooting arrows to aligning light with the path to turn it purple so it connects properly. The final few puzzles of the chapter are great and involve a reasonable amount of problem-solving skills; these involve solving rhymes and piecing together clues. It genuinely feels like the player is in control at these points.

Screenshot for King's Quest: Chapter 4 - Snow Place Like Home on PC

The chapter also has a few references to the original King's Quest series, harking back to Cedric the Owl. The world design both visually and lore-wise is very detailed, with some of the most beautiful landscaping in the series, with the frozen Avalon. This also gave the developer a chance to put in real-time reflections, which seem a little low resolution on PC, but are otherwise a nice touch in the icy palace. Musically the game is still great with plenty of subtle undertones when needed which, along with the also great voice overs, provides a fantastic atmosphere of whimsy with a hint of darkness.

For all this chapter tries to do to be a bit dark, it never really loses the feeling of magical and fantasy-ness that the series was built on. It does have a few moments of darkness, as well as the first real death in the series, though. Going by the current-day story, the series is indeed going for the heart-wrenching ending personally predicted in the Chapter 1 review. This is both great and terrible. The writing has really stepped up in the last couple of chapters!

Screenshot for King's Quest: Chapter 4 - Snow Place Like Home on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Chapter 4 of King's Quest has some great standout moments, and fantastic characterisation and script, with an almost unpredictable plot twist, which keeps players in suspense until just before the very end. Due to the slightly repetitive nature of the puzzles, it's likely some people will get bogged down, but the payoff at the end is definitely worth it, especially back in the present with its "subtle" foreshadowing. There is a lot of fun to be had with this, and it can be thoroughly recommended to those who are playing through the series.

Developer

The Odd Gentlemen

Publisher

Sierra Entertainment

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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