Join Date: Oct 2006
Things about Sierra games I like, and want to see come back in the new KQ:
-The narrator who describes everything you look at/do/etc. The narrator-based style of object description always differentiated Sierra games from those of LucasArts, which had the protagonist describe everything he sees out loud to an empty room. Plus, the narration increased the storybook, fairy-tale feel. I'd love to see Telltale's KQ have a narrator.
-The ability to look at (if not interact with) EVERYTHING. I love that in Sierra games, you had the option to look at every single pixel on screen. If there wasn't any specific object that you'd clicked on, you'd get a description of the overall environment. This was cool and increased immersiveness.
-The range of atmosphere, setting, and tone in Sierra's various games. I remain impressed by how Sierra managed to put out a wide variety of games, each with its own style and tone. Some titles were humorous, some were serious, others were both at once; and certain games were adult-oriented, while other Sierra works were clearly family games.
King's Quest, despite the whimsical nature of certain puzzles throughout the series, generally took itself seriously as a fantasy game, and it also sought to be family-friendly.
In contrast, Space Quest was a sarcastic, snarky parody of science fiction with a decidedly un-prestigious hero. Quest for Glory was an adventure-RPG hybrid that told the epic tale of a hero's rise over five adventures in a sprawling fantasy world; yet it was also packed with wacky characters, barrages of puns, and an ever-present sense of humor. Gabriel Knight was a dramatic and mature horror/mystery tale set in 1990s New Orleans. Leisure Suit Larry was an unabashedly adult adventure game whose hero's goal is to get laid. I could go on.
For any new King's Quest, the storyline should capture the tone Sierra instilled in this particular series: that is, it should be relatively serious and dramatic in nature. In particular, KQ6 pulled this off very well. There are small individual moments of levity (e.g. the puns on the Isle of Wonder) but crucially important bits, including a journey to the Realm of the Dead and the final confrontation with the villain, are full of drama played straight.
Telltale games, like LucasArts games, are generally more consistently humorous than Sierra titles. This needs to be dialed down in a King's Quest game. Fortunately, if Jurassic Park is any indication, Telltale is already trying to break its design molds and come up with games that vary markedly in tone, much as Sierra did.
-The ability to die. This is something that, for all of LucasArts' railing against it, isn't necessarily bad at all. If done well, and not gratuitously, it can increase the feeling of tension in a dramatic situation (see LucasArts' Fate of Atlantis). Or, it can provide comedy gold, as in Space Quest (though I don't think this style of death would be appropriate for KQ).
Later Sierra games, like KQ7 and SQ6, allowed you to revive yourself immediately after you died, in a "second chance" option. This is very similar to The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, which always resurrects you right after you've died. I'm struck by how Telltale here unwittingly managed to follow Sierra's lead, so I think they can pull it off again for KQ.
Things about Sierra games I don't like, and don't want to see return:
-Dead Ends. We don't need to bring these back. Death is one thing, dead ends are quite another. Sierra's dead ends were often particularly cruel to the player.
King's Quest V, for instance, has a point where main character Graham, while exploring the snowy mountains, gets hungry. He is carrying a leg of lamb and a pie. (At least he is if the player solved every puzzle in the valley below, before entering the mountains. If the player didn't get these items, he'll die of hunger. And after a certain point, which comes before Graham gets hungry, return to the valley becomes impossible.)
If he eats the pie, he'll satisfy his hunger, but he'll die later on because he needs the pie to kill a Yeti (!). He should instead eat the leg of lamb, because he eats only half of it and saves the rest. There is no way to figure out the proper solution except by eating either item, which gives you a 50% chance of creating an unwinnable state.
And of course, Graham later meets a starving eagle (soon before he encounters the Yeti). The solution is to give the eagle your remaining lamb meat; if he doesn't, Graham will much later be killed by a monster the eagle would otherwise save him from. Again, he can give the eagle the pie instead and continue playing, only to die at the Yeti's hand not long afterward. There is no clue not to do this; players find out only by hitting a dead end.