Puzzles and Solvability
Hmmm...I think the game should be punished in this area, for the simple reason that quite a few puzzles are really only solved through mere chance. They may seem logical after the fact, but the thought processes required to solve them the first time round just don’t have much of a place in adventure games for good reason. Only seeing the key on the cabinet if you’re standing far enough away from it, reaching Daventry by ship only by waiting fifteen minutes doing nothing, and teleporting past the Abominable Snowman through random chance, are the types of puzzles that require luck (or unnatural perseverance) to solve. Adding a real time element to the game was certainly brave, but I think the fact this feature wasn’t used again speaks volumes. As for the rest, well the majority of puzzles are solved through the use of spells, so the major part of the game revolves around collecting ingredients and following the manual rather than doing any sort of real thinking. All things considered, I’m giving it a 5.
70 of the 210 points are gained by simply entering the recipes directly from the manual.
Interface and Inventory
Both the interface and inventory are almost identical to the way they were in King’s Quest II. There are not many places where the horrible stair climbing nightmares take effect. The stairs in Manannan’s house do unfortunately suffer from this however, which can be torture when you’re trying to get back to your room to hide items under your bed and the wizard is due back any second. The biggest change comes from an item rather than the interface itself, with the magic map allowing you travel quickly around Llewdor to anywhere you’ve been previously. Many fans criticised this for making this part of the game too easy, but given how difficult it is to find the map in the first place, I think its ok. The only real noticeable change for the negative is that the “look” command doesn’t give you very much detail this time round. After the progress made between games I and II, it’s disappointing that the game moved backwards, making you look at things very specifically to get any useful details about your surroundings. Wouldn’t it have been nice to go into Manannan’s bedroom, type “look” and be told that there’s something shiny on the top of the closet. It was 5 for part II, so it’s 5 here.
Forcing the player to use the keyboard to navigate this path multiple times is nasty!
Story and Setting
I guess Roberta Williams deserves some credit for changing things up for King’s Quest III. Instead of merely following the next adventures of King Graham of Daventry, the player finds themselves in the shoes of the enslaved Gwydion, in a land called Llewdor. Early reviews criticised this move, suggesting the game felt separate to the series its name suggested it belonged to, but I guess these critics would have had egg on their faces, as they clearly didn’t play through very much of the game. It turned out Roberta had a plan all along, and things come together quite nicely in the end. That being said, Llewdor doesn’t really feel all that different to Daventry, which isn’t surprising given the colours and illustration techniques are unchanged. There isn’t as much of the fairy tale storytelling found in part III, with the three bears being the most obvious inclusion, and with foes such as Medusa and the Abominable Snowman making an appearance, the game has a slightly darker tone all up. I kind of prefer that, so I’m giving the game a 6 in this category.
Daventry has been invaded by a three headed dragon and you give me a small stone!?
Sound and Graphics
Sound effects are unchanged from the previous two games, so there’s not much to say about that. Moving Al Lowe away from music into a designer role had a negative effect when it comes to the tunes in the game. King’s Quest II had a bunch of easily recognisable tunes showing up at appropriate times whereas King’s Quest III has none of these. I believe its Al’s wife handling the music after his promotion and while she doesn’t disgrace herself, I can’t say any of its particularly memorable. The graphics and animation use exactly the same techniques as the previous games and while Manannan’s house has some nice details, once you move out into Llewdor, the world looks extremely familiar. If I weigh up the increased graphical detail with the lower musical standard, I’m forced to give part III the same as part II, which is once again a 5.
The dragon looks heaps better than the one in part I. I'd say on par with Skyrim!
Environment and Atmosphere
As with King’s Quest II, the third game in the series wraps around from north to south, but the west and east have boundaries (more specifically the desert to the west and the ocean to the east). Given the magic map allows you to travel anywhere you’ve been previously by clicking on that location on the map, I think Roberta and co. missed an opportunity to remove the wraparound effect altogether. It certainly makes Llewdor feel small (particularly as it’s made up of only twenty screens outside Manannan’s house) and doesn’t give any suggestion that Gwydion is exploring only a small portion of a larger unseen land. As previously mentioned, the tone of King’s Quest III is slightly darker than the earlier games, but it’s still kid friendly despite the fact the main villain kidnaps young boys and kills them on their eighteenth birthday. Nothing much has really changed, so 6 it is.
Many criticised the magic map but I thought it was a nice addition.
I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but the fact is King’s Quest III does very little to evolve the adventure genre (if you ignore the time element which was considered a failed experiment). As with the first two games, there are very few occasions where NPCs actually talk to Gwydion and a lot of the “dialogue” is narrative or overheard conversations. It is all done in a very similar style to the previous games, which means very basic descriptions and twee use of language. I can’t say anything stands out in particular, so I’ll cut to the chase and give this a 4.
It’s a 52 for King’s Quest III, which is not as high as I was expecting prior to playing. The general feeling in reviews around the net suggest this entry to series was groundbreaking and one of the best, but I can’t ignore the frustration caused by bad design and deviant (if not illogical) solutions to puzzles. Perhaps my scores are a bit skewed by the fact I’ve played these games before and it’s possible I would have a completely different outlook if I was experiencing them for the first time. I guess we’ll never know! Onto Space Quest we go...