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King’s Quest Chapter II – Rubble Without A Cause: The Review

Developers: The Odd Gentleman

Publishers: Sierra Entertainment

Plot: Graham is the newly appointed king of Daventry, a position he struggles with, especially when he is kidnapped by a tribe of goblins.

As King’s Quest opens up, one cannot help but be intrigued as to how Sierra Entertainment are going to go about continuing its story. A Knight To Remember worked as a charming origin story, one that used the puzzle mechanics to slowly build a universe and bring the player closer to the end of the game. It was light entertainment, but one that seemed to pose a problem for sequel making. The sequel starts a little slow, with Graham, a newly appointed King, struggling at the life of a decisive ruler and facing the mandatory identity crisis all video game heroes need to go through. However, before too long, the plot uproots itself, Graham kidnapped by a tribe of goblins. We are thrown into the Goblin kingdom and suddenly the whole dynamic pleasantly changes.

As predicted from a prison setting, your movements are very limited. Your character is kept purposefully starved by the Goblins, so your strength levels are always a feeble level. In your cell, you can examine your strength meter and see several things to interact with that require lifting. Mission One: find some food, so you can up your strength and lift things, allowing you into new areas. It starts simple, but as the first episode proved, King’s Quest is far more complicated than that. As you venture outside of your cell, the Goblins needing you to complete chores for them, you get a chance to explore the Goblin camp. The villagers from the last game have all been captured too from the cheery Baker and his sick wife, the elderly potion-makers and the headstrong Blacksmith. All are also short on food, so you need to also ration meals for them, as well as yourself. The game takes place over five days and if you provoke the Goblins too much, you are marched back to your cell, putting a stop to the day’s questing. However, at the same time, perhaps ending the day is the correct thing to do. It adds a new dynamic to the riddle solving. At the same time, this is a far more restrictive episode than the last chapter was. It is a lot shorter, the prison atmosphere simply nowhere near as extensive enough to keep the pace flowing. The writers make the concious decision to end the chapter early, rather than lose the momentum, a correct decision, but something to bear in mind when purchasing the next part of the story. On the plus side, this is a much darker chapter in terms of tone. The last review I expressed concerns that while Chapter I was a pleasantly enjoyable affair, surely as the series continued and the need for a bigger narrative thrust was crucial, the game would begin to falter. Nice only gets you so far. However, while the playful cheekiness is still omnipresent in the gameplay, Rubble Without A Cause hits the emotional points hard and true. As a King rationing food, it is possible to kill off a handful of the villagers. While tough choices must be mad, (ie: most episodic games), the true test comes from your skills at solving riddles. Failing to complete a task by an allotted day is what really writes a character out of the series, so when a character passes, it is down to your mistakes. It adds a frantic urgency to the game. The puzzle-solving isn’t just something to pass the time, but the demands of a King. There are some solid low points in King’s Quest that are prominent enough to suggest that any worries I have about a lacklustre finale should be removed from the equation. There are also some hints at what future episodes will include, as some form of overall plots begin to get knitted together in subtle yet exciting ways. It is merely appetising, but it works as a promise that I should stop worrying about this series.

Final Verdict: Rubble Without A Cause isn’t as extensive as the first chapter, but packs a more emotional punch. More of the same fun. I cannot complain.

Four Stars