Mar 23, 2011

King's Quest III Redux - The Review

It's not everyday I choose to review freeware offerings. Everyone can after all effortlessly and freely download them and see what they are all about. There are though some games, some freeware games, that have had so much work put into them, that they fully deserve the proper review treatment. King's Quest III - Redux by AGDI is definitely one of the lot; then again, it does actually feature the voice of legendary Sierra designer Lori Cole.

King's Quest III Redux: To Heir is Human, to give it its full title, is a remake of Sierra's classic, parser based King's Quest III, and has been in the making for eight long years. Happily, this definitely shows, as KQ3 Redux is a truly stunning update of a classic adventure, that's worth all the love and care it can muster. I for one consider the original King's Quest III the second best game in the series, for apparently King's Quest VI sits comfortably on its golden throne.

One of the things that made the original King’s Quest III so special were its unexpected dark atmosphere and its truly satisfying story. Unlike the whimsical and too family oriented first two installments, KQ III didn't take place in the fairy-tale land of Daventry. It started off in the rather unsettling and foreboding land of Llewdor, where instead of a royal family and its shiny heroes the new main character is Gwydion; a humble and unfairly doomed servant boy. For Gwydion, you see, is in the service of none other than the evil wizard Manannan who seems to have decided that killing his servants on their 18th birthday is the way to avoid trouble and live a long and prosperous life. Faced with such a worrisome fate Gwydion quite obviously had to escape, survive an impressively (for a Sierra release, that is) twisting plot and finally make sense in the KQ universe.

While King’s Quest III Redux isn't a carbon copy of the original, it does follow said lovely and puzzle-filled plot very closely, being faithful to a -dare I say- exciting and classic adventure. The changes it introduces focus mainly on gloriously updating the audiovisual side of things and introducing a modern point-and-click interface. The graphics are gloriously pushed up to the 256-colour VGA standard and full voice acting, along with a brilliant, new and quite dynamic soundtrack have been added. The major aesthetic overhaul of the game’s graphics is more than successful. It's actually jaw-dropping and incredibly detailed. Each scene is beautifully framed, new character portraits have been created, and a a huge variety of smooth, pixel-art animations has been added. Just have a look at the following piccies and you'll understand: 

Now, everything may have been updated to use a lovely point-and-click interface, effectively dismissing the brutal difficulty the classic parser introduced, but KQ III Redux remains a particularly taxing and long adventure, that delights itself in murdering gamers in a variety of imaginative ways. Saving a lot, early and often are mandatory if you actually hope to beat this one; it did after all take me a couple of weeks of blowing myself up with spells, failing to beat time limits, trying to remember puzzles I had solved ages ago, encountering new tough problems, and falling off cliffs to reach the finale. So, if you haven't figured it out yet: the new puzzles are tough. What's more, many of the old ones have been tweaked, places have been moved around and brand new locations have been added, making this the most elaborate and challenging version of KQ III. Also the best.

King's Quest III Redux is available as a free download for your PC and/or Mac. You can grab it via its excellent and content-rich official website. Apparently you could also grab one of the game's poster while you are at it too.

Verdict:  King's Quest III Redux is the definitive version of a truly classic adventure. Play it even if you never cared for point-and-clickers before, if only to admire this impressively polished and definitely epic work of love. Truth be said, I'd easily pay for such an amazing offering.

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  1. ahh, the glorious old pixels...I know the new one is nice and clean, but give me the old blocks anyday.

  2. Well, I can see the allure of 16-colour blocky graphics, but I must admit I do prefer the VGA ones. Then again, everything does look better with a bit of colour-clash...

  3. I like how you put the new vs. old screenshots on there for graphics comparison. It looks very nice. Think I'll grab it, hey the pricepoint is perfect! Thanks for the review Gnome.

  4. You are most welcome MadPlanet. Oh, are you sure you wouldn't want to wait for a price-drop or something?

  5. nah - my 0% raise this year should just about cover it perfectly. :)

  6. Very well then, I do hope you enjoy it then!

  7. This certainly looks pretty and is free, which is always nice, but Gemini Rue has a priority.

  8. After all Gemini Rue is indeed the fresher and handily shorter game dear Barts. I do hope you'll love it!