User Avatar Image

Should the new King's Quest game have unwinnable states?

posted by thejobloshow on - last edited - Viewed by 2.2K users

I'm a big advocate of death and losing in adventure games. I think if a gamer is given enough warning that what they're about to embark on involves an element of genuine danger it makes for a much more intricate engagement with the game out of sheer glorious TERROR.

The puzzles in some King's Quest games border on the masochistic and I would feel disappointed if there wasn't some attempt to beef up the difficulty in order to genuinely reflect what this series was all about. You were adventuring in strange new worlds where fairy tale and horror had come to life - sometimes the best approach to make sense of this crazy world was to take a stab in the dark. You better grab that item right now or else you might never see it again! Maybe if I write this guy's name backwards i can pass this area. Things like that.

Dead ends are considered the worst possible thing you could do in an adventure game. It was part of the LucasArts manifesto to go against this design flaw, which brought about a flurry of genre defining adventure games that lasted up until Grim Fandango. However, that was never King's Quest's concern. In fact, when they removed unwinnable states in King's Quest VII the game was lambasted by fans for being TOO EASY!

So, why not bring back the dead end? Some of the most popular adventure games today have refined what it means to have an unwinnable state such as Ace Attorney and Ghost Trick. Surely there's a way to reconcile delicious punishment in a modern era of adventuring without throwing away the whole thing!

44 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @BagginsKQ said: Oh, come on every single KQ game had ways to die.

    As for Space Quest, oddly enough there is a fan game that as far as I know has no ingame deaths. Shocking as it may be :p... It really is kind of 'missing'.

    Like I said it's difficult to imagine King's Quest game where you can't die, but dying isn't as integral part of the game experience as it was in Space Quest series. In Space Quest games deaths were one of the most enjoyable part and I often killed Roger on purpose just to see what happens to him.

    But I agree that dying was important part of the challenge in every early Sierra adventures, in later games deaths were less frequent and for example in Gabriel Knight games, despite the horror themes, there was only few places where Gabriel could die. And also in the later King's Quest games dying became less important. In King's Quest VII there was a retry button which allowed you to retry from the start of the scene and in Mask of Eternity dying happened only when you lost all your hit points, but that happened only rarely because battles were easy and there was always plenty of healing items available.

  • @Olaus Petrus said: ...in Mask of Eternity dying happened only when you lost all your hit points, but that happened only rarely because battles were easy and there was always plenty of healing items available.

    If you were smart and/or experienced enough to use them.....ahhhh, see? I don't see this as any different. It's not THAT hard to avoid deaths in the older KQ games either.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: If you were smart and/or experienced enough to use them.....ahhhh, see? I don't see this as any different. It's not THAT hard to avoid deaths in the older KQ games either.

    Except that sometimes it is relatively hard to avoid deaths and it requires plenty of saving. I would assume that almost everyone died few times because of the cave troll in KQIV. Climbing the beanstalk in KQ1 is also a pain in the bottom, because it's not obvious which is the safe route to climb and if you don't know the danger zones in the forest wolf or ogre can come out of nowhere and kill Graham. Only by learning those places of danger with plenty of trial and error you can avoid deaths.

  • Yes. Glorious challenging days, those were.

    I mean, come on now. It's obviously dangerous to climb a beanstalk. Anyone can realize this. This allows you to realize that you'll need to probably save here just in case. There's two screens of beanstalk before reaching the top. Once you reach one screen, you save again just in case (I'd bet money that a retry in this area would start you at the beginning of the beanstalk and not exactly where you were, if retries were in this game). Once you continue doing it you get a feel for how the game works. In both the AGI and SCI remake of KQ1 you have to position your hands (not feet) on the beanstalk. Once you realize this it's incredibly easy. I get it first try every time. It's not hard to understand. And it's not trial and error. At least not to the point you're exaggerating it to. It takes experimenting and there's nothing wrong with that. I consider that a puzzle.

    And even if people were having trouble, once they finally reach the top there's that incredible sense of accomplishment at defeating that game hurdle. Of course it's annoying to see Graham fall to his death time after time, but that just makes the reward even better. Much better than if it was impossible to die or if there was a retry on each beanstalk screen. It'd just be another annoying sequence without any reward whatsoever.

    Hate on deaths all you want, but they make the game more exciting and more rewarding. You're missing out if you only play games without deaths. This is why I prefer Sierra games to LucasArts games. They're just more exciting and more rewarding. The makeup for it in LA games is that the dialogue is funny and entertaining.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Yes. Glorious challenging days, those were.

    I mean, come on now. It's obviously dangerous to climb a beanstalk. Anyone can realize this. This allows you to realize that you'll need to probably save here just in case. There's two screens of beanstalk before reaching the top. Once you reach one screen, you save again just in case (I'd bet money that a retry in this area would start you at the beginning of the beanstalk and not exactly where you were, if retries were in this game). Once you continue doing it you get a feel for how the game works. In both the AGI and SCI remake of KQ1 you have to position your hands (not feet) on the beanstalk. Once you realize this it's incredibly easy. I get it first try every time. It's not hard to understand. And it's not trial and error. At least not to the point you're exaggerating it to. It takes experimenting and there's nothing wrong with that. I consider that a puzzle.

    And even if people were having trouble, once they finally reach the top there's that incredible sense of accomplishment at defeating that game hurdle. Of course it's annoying to see Graham fall to his death time after time, but that just makes the reward even better. Much better than if it was impossible to die or if there was a retry on each beanstalk screen. It'd just be another annoying sequence without any reward whatsoever.

    Hate on deaths all you want, but they make the game more exciting and more rewarding. You're missing out if you only play games without deaths. This is why I prefer Sierra games to LucasArts games. They're just more exciting and more rewarding. The makeup for it in LA games is that the dialogue is funny and entertaining.

    I didn't say that I hate deaths. I said that dying had more important role as part of the challenge in the early Sierra games than in later ones. And I also said that I think that dying is part of the King's Quest games. And while I said that in early King's Quest games you have to die sometimes before you can figure out the right solution, it doesn't mean that I don't accept it as part of the challenge (although I'm not good in climbing scenes and have tendency to walk over the edge especially if DOSBox cycles are accidentally set to bit too fast). None of those statements means that I hate deaths.

    My personal favourite is KQIV where deaths are still quite frequent (cave troll, shark etc.) and it has dead ends too and it even has a time limit. But none of those bother me at all, because it's a good and challenging game.

  • I wasn't necessarily talking only to you. I was replying to you, but directing many of those thoughts to others.

    [quote]My personal favourite is KQIV where deaths are still quite frequent (cave troll, shark etc.) and it has dead ends too and it even has a time limit. But none of those bother me at all, because it's a good and challenging game.[/QUOTE]

    Amen.

  • To this day I get REALLY nervous when a game doesn't allow multiple save slots.. Having been a gamer in those days are a huge part of feeling that way.

    That said.. most dead ends where not put in their on purpose... and I really do not want to see dead ends return now.

  • Death scenes can be annoying when they are extremely frequent (like Space Quest II), but at the end of the day I can tolerate them, or even like them if they are introduced in an interesting way. Dead ends is what I can't stand (and they can also be based in trial and error mechanics, which makes them even worse), with some honorable exceptions. I don't enjoy not knowing if the reason you're stuck is because you can't find the solution to the puzzle or because you overlooked a now-impossible-to-get item five hours ago. What should you do, keep thinking and trying to find a solution to the current puzzle, or replay the whole game, just in case? If having that perennial uncertainty while playing the whole game is supposed to be fun, or an stimulating challenge, I guess it's just not my cup of tea.

    Besides, as it's been pointed out, it's not like most of the dead ends in Sierra's older games were a deliberate and pondered choice (death scenes, on the other hand, were definitely a design choice). Many if not most of them were just there as a result of poor, lazy design.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: I wasn't necessarily talking only to you. I was replying to you, but directing many of those thoughts to others.

    OK. I thought that you were still answering to my post.

    @MusicallyInspired said: To this day I get REALLY nervous when a game doesn't allow multiple save slots.. Having been a gamer in those days are a huge part of feeling that way.

    That said.. most dead ends where not put in their on purpose... and I really do not want to see dead ends return now.

    If game allows only one save, then I usually make backup copy of my saved game after every session. I don't fear dead ends, but I have occasionally experienced corrupted saves and then it's a good to have backup saves so you don't have to start new game.

  • There are actually quite a few different death animations for killing Conner in KQ7 by different methods (and sometimes by way the enemy killed him). All pretty worth discovering. There might be some dialogue you can only hear if you arr killed by certain enemies. Plus the extra bad ending where Conner is sucked down into the dark Abyss. Our at the end of the game.

    I still like how it was done in KQ1VGA, KQ5 and KQ6 (and a lesser extent in 7) the best with the pop ups with a funny message and sometimes a special animation, much like the space quest deaths. Like space quest I loved discoveryimg how you could kill off a character. In the earliest KQ they sometimes had special animations to show a death like graham turning into a green possessed zombie and committing suicide, or turning purple afte drinking poison water. Rosella becoming a zombie too. Sometimes you gotta go out of your way to discover some of the deaths.

Add Comment