KQVI has a reputation as the best game in the Kings Quest series and I definitely enjoyed it. The puzzles were good and highly motivated by the plot. The story was really well done and the characters were varied and real. I got a bit confused by the multiple solution paths aspect because I played out part of one and got stuck and then went back and ended up on the other track so I was always kind of wondering when they would converge again.
Random Thoughts While Playing
This game has good “feel”. I really am pulled into the story and the world of the game. Nothing feels out of place – the items I can access and the actions I can take are well motivated by the environment. None of the puzzles so far have felt arbitrary or bizarre.
The game is more “serious” than others I’ve played in the sense that it strives to maintain a consistent story and world. There are no asides to the camera or jokes about adventure games. The third wall is intact!
The game manages to avoid the problem where you have too much shit you are carrying around and you feel like you just have to try every inventory item on every in-world object. The puzzles gradually opened the world up and provided inventory when needed and then consumed them for the most part once they were no longer needed. This reduced the frustration of having some item clogging up your inventory the whole game on the off chance it holds two uses.
I love the idea of the pawn shop where there are four items available but you can only “check out” one at a time.
The beginning of the game is nice and small with a limited number of locations and items you need to work with. It allows you to really get into the story and meet some of the recurring characters before you are faced with anything too difficult. The book seller tells you a bit about the island and suggests you talk to the ferry captain and visit the castle. Immediately at the castle the core dramatic conflict of the story is revealed. Cassima is supposedly going to marry this sketchy Vizier. You know that dude is up to no good but it will take the entire game to figure out why and what to do about it. Now the game has your attention and it really opens up – the magic map you get right now lets you visit three more islands.
This limited opening which forces you to meet the main characters and sets up the fundamental challenge of the whole game is an excellent way to begin.
Where I got Stuck
The book worm puzzle was very confusing to me. I hadn’t noticed the book of spells on the counter of the bookshop so I never had the rare book conversation with the book seller which kept the bookworm from talking to me. So I kept trying to apply the boring book to the bookworm puzzle. No matter what I did the worm just told me to go away so it wasn’t clear at all what I needed to be doing. This could have been alleviated by making the spell book more obvious on the counter or having the bookworm change his response to something which hinted at the solution after a few tries.
I’m always thrown when a game like this has small parts which are time sensitive. Most of the game feels almost turn based but some of the puzzles require a quick response. This is how I failed to figured out the spider web puzzle. I pulled the loose thread in the web but then didn’t immediately try to get the paper when the spider moved.
This also kept me from pursuing the short-ending where you need to put the song-bird decoy in the hallway. I got so sick of being caught by the guards when I tried to hide in the alcove and try different things that I just figured there had to be an easier way. I had actually tried putting the bird at the end of the hall but since the error response was just general (“you don’t need to do that” kind of thing) and didn’t give a clue like “The guards wouldn’t see it there” then I just gave up. This problem has happened in other games as well – where you need to do something in real-time but the consequences of failure are a long wait or restore (especially the cottage in The Secret of Monkey Island II).