Thursday, 2 April 2015

Game 52: King's Quest V - The things I'll go through for a leg of lamb

Written by TBD

King Graham of Daventry Journal Entry #4: “With the help of an elf I finally escaped the dread forest. I then helped a woman get her heart back, bartered with a gnome, a cobbler and a toymaker, defeated a gang of thugs, scared a poisonous snake and entered an icy mountain pass. A good day's work, if I say so myself. Now to find a way to continue through the icy mountain and find Mordack's castle.”

Thanks to apprentice_fu I found my way out of the forest.

After reading the first clue, which was “The solution is within the witch forest area” I did a little more searching. After a few minutes I thought the second clue wouldn't hurt so I read “There is an item you missed”

Aha. So something I thought was background decoration was actually a clickable item. I'd done plenty of clicking on anything I thought had even a slight chance of being useful but hadn't found a thing. This time, instead of using the 'eye' icon to look for things, I skipped a step and went straight for the 'hand' icon to take/activate something. I went around the screens furiously clicking everywhere with the hand, hearing the same comment over and over when finally, in the witch's house, Graham opened a drawer I hadn't previously noticed.

This drawer is responsible for me wasting many hours - there'd better be something good in there

I'd definitely clicked on the items on the table, but had received the same generic comment I get for clicking anywhere on the background of that scene. Somehow in all my previous semi-random clicking I'd not clicked on the table itself or I would have known. I was planning to blame the game for its pixel hunting, but once I knew what the relevant item was, I was surprised that I could click anywhere on the table apart from the top and find out about the drawer. So, pretty much my fault there.

Inside the drawer was a pouch containing three green gems. Gems could work as bait, so I went to the west and first tried giving a gem to the eyes, which resulted in me throwing it on the ground and a little elf taking it and running off. I tried putting the other two gems on the spilt honeycomb and the third one worked. I grabbed the elf and traded his life for an exit. The elf agreed, and asked 'Rocky' the rock to move aside. Rocky's voice acting isn't the best the game has to offer.

It felt a little unfair that until this point the game didn't even allow me to click on Rocky with the 'talk' icon selected

In a cutscene, the elf took me inside a cavern where other elves were working and offered me some fine leather footwear for my generous green gem donation (which the witch probably stole from the elves first anyway.)

In most fiction, it's the dwarves who mine and are obsessed with shiny gems. Way to break the stereotype, King's Quest V

Because I was unable to control Graham during the cutscene, I immediately went back down the hole to see if there was anything I could actually do myself in the elf cavern. There was only one thing I found that I could do - die.

Don't tell me when exploration is cut off by a chasm. I'm the King here. I'll go wherever I please.

I went straight back to town to see If the shoemaker wanted my new shoes – he did, and told me he had nothing to offer. Graham insisted that he wanted nothing in return, but still stood there impatiently until the shoemaker thought of something. He eventually offered a small hammer, which Graham quickly pocketed despite sounding so magnanimous when he refused anything in trade mere moments earlier.

Apparently the new shoes were so good that they'd be able to retire immediately, which they did. The husband, wife and dog all left, leaving me alone in their empty shop.

Shouldn't they have at least kept the shop open long enough to sell their new pair of shoes?

Because I thought it might result in an amusing or sad comment, I then offered the willow tree's heart to the toymaker, who gave me his sled for it. I then offered the sled to the willow tree but she said she didn't want any of my items, just her stolen heart. Not having the option to mention that I had found her heart, but traded it for a shiny red sled instead of returning it to her, I reloaded and gave the tree her heart back.

She turned back into a woman, threw away her now suddenly shrunken harp, and called to her fiancee, who dutifully ran into the screen so they could run off together. I took the harp because, in Graham's own words, “If she doesn't want it, I'll take it.” The unofficial motto of all adventure game characters.

The happy couple reunited at last. I'll just stand here in a pool of your tears and hope you leave without taking your harp

The next few puzzle solutions came to me quickly now that I had some new items. 

Graham refused to offer the spinning wheel to the tailor because the tailor had nothing he wanted. When he showed it to the gnome, the gnome recognised it as his own spinning wheel that had been stolen from him by the witch.

Graham greedily demanded his grandchild's favourite toy in exchange for finding his stolen properly. The gnome agreed, so Graham took the kid's favourite toy and traded it in for his very own red sled. Graham really takes the old schoolchild logic of 'finders keepers' to a new level.

I did the cat-rat scene from the previous post again and got myself captured by the inn thugs. This time, the cobbler's hammer worked on the door and I escaped. I found a leg of lamb in the inn's kitchen, then tried going towards the talking voices just to see if I would die. I did

If you're going to try to kill me, I'll just steal your dinner and walk out the front door

After reloading, I opened the back door and left with my new rope and a leg of lamb. After everything I went through and the amount of times I died in that inn, a leg of lamb seemed a bit anticlimactic, but I'm sure it will play a vital role in saving my family at some point.

I tried a few things on the snake in an attempt at making her leave. She doesn't like harp music and eats neither lamb nor beeswax. I thought maybe she'd like some cooked meat so I went back to the gypsy wagon where I'd seen a cooking fire. There was no fire and the gypsies had left, which I'm sure made Cedric happy because he doesn't trust gypsies (he probably thinks they'll steal your stuff and sell it back to you.) There was, however, a tambourine on the ground. According to the narrator, Graham 'rescued' the tambourine from the ground.

King Graham, rescuer of fair maidens and unattended personal property

I took my new instrument back to the snake to see if she preferred it to harp music.

Important hiking tip: If you ever come upon a poisonous snake, simply wave a tambourine at it and it will leave.

Finally the way to Mordack's castle was opened. I went east, and came upon a frosty trail. 'A few hours later....' popped up on top of the screen, depriving me of the joy of making a sarcastic comment about a scorching desert being so close to an icy path.

Graham started shivering, and I knew I had to wear the cloak but didn't because I wanted to see the freezing to death scene. But first, two cliff falling death scenes.

Ah, falling off cliffs - a proud Sierra tradition

One thing I mentioned earlier but is most evident here, is this game's pathfinding system. In previous Sierra games, you had to manually navigate around the world. Most of their games even had at least one section purely devoted to making sure the player used pixel-perfect navigation to avoid things – like the annoying vine scene in Space Quest II.

In this game, Graham will automatically take the correct route – an improvement which I loved. In a 2d rendition of a 3d world, I always found those sequences frustrating and unfair.

Watching Graham navigate this path without me having to do it myself made me a very happy player

On the second screen of the icy path, I saw a branch above me and the rope immediately came to mind. I used the rope on the branch, at which point I dutifully froze to death.

Deliberately not wearing the obviously required cloak just so I could see Graham die - does that make me a bad person?

Wearing my cloak, I tried again. This time I was surprised to die.

Oh well. This seems like a good place to finish for now. Next time, I'll try coating my rope with bees wax, or perhaps offering the wax to the bees themselves if I find myself still stuck under the rope. I still have access to all the other areas from before, including the forest so I may still have missed an important item somewhere – I certainly hope not - I don't want to ask for assistance twice in one game.

Session time: 1 hour 05 minutes
Total time: 9 hours 40 minutes

Session deaths: 6
Total deaths: 20

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Yeah, that branch is just mean.

    I seem to remember the freezing death being timer-related, so it was probably a coincidence that you died that way while you were in the process of throwing the rope at the branch.

  2. IIRC you actually DON'T have access to the previous areas of the game once you enter the mountains (other than via restoring, of course). Which is more unfun design/game padding.

    In the event you're stuck on this screen, here's the spoiler for how to progress:

    1. Lbh unir jung lbh arrq gb cebterff sebz guvf fperra
    2. Gur ebcr vf svar nf-vf
    3. ...lbh'er whfg hfvat vg va gur jebat cynpr
    4. Gel gung cbvagl ybbxvat ebpx gb gur evtug bs gur qrngu-oenapu

    1. Thanks Fry, but since writing the post I did (eventually) work that out.

      I definitely agree with you about this being clear game padding. In this case, the game deliberately tries to trick you into getting dead ended by adding a wrong answer and making it seem like obviously the right one. I can't imagine anyone actually not falling for this the first time they play - though more observant people would have immediately reloaded because they saw what I didn't.

      I could still go back to the previous screens from this screen, but after climbing the rope is I think the point of no return.

  3. The gypsies arbitrarily leaving after you've completed everything else is a perfect example of poor storytelling and gameplay integration. Instead of pursuing a solid goal, you just do badly designed fetch quests until the game says: "OK, now you're allowed to proceed."

    With the non-voiced version I like to imagine Cedric as a sarcastic posh egotist, who disdains Graham and always has a badly disguised glee in his voice when he half-heartedly warns, intentionally too late, him of doing something deadly. Much more interesting than the wuss voice acted version.

  4. I was going to play along on this one, but the lack of subtitles is honestly such a big turn off for me. Partly because English is not my native language, but also because of the frustration of missing stuff because of noise at home etc. Also frustrating not being able to skip pieces of dialogue if your a fast reader. although I can respect the wish of game developers to not diminish the experience by cutting spoken lines in half because of hurry ;)

    1. Understandable.

      I'm the opposite. The first thing I do when I start up a new game is go to the options screen and turn off subtitles. Having the words written on the bottom of the screen decreases my immersion - I spend too much time reading the bottom of the screen rather than watching the characters and animations and reading ahead takes away from the little details of the voice actor's performance and decreases the impact of what they're saying.

      They should always be an option though, so both you and I can always play the way we prefer.

  5. Wow... Graham sure makes an @$$holey king; threatening elves with death, stealing sh!t from his subjects and ransoming their belongings with their other belongings. He's more of a rogue than a ruler.

    Speaking of which, he (the rogue), Rosella (the healer), Gwydion (the sorceror) and Connor (the paladin) would make a really awesome RPG group.

  6. "In this game, Graham will automatically take the correct route"

    Hey Corey, or anyone else who would know: How did you do pathfinding like this back then? Even games I played from 5+ years after this (and some I play today) have some pretty gnarly pathfinding, as I understand it is very complicated and computationally expensive. How did you do it back in the day?