You fine folks may have heard about a video game called The Silver Lining
. The Silver Lining
is a fan-made sequel to King's Quest
as a sort of tribute to a series that is no longer being made, and as a means to finally conclude the series. It was halted several times, first by Vivendi Studios, then by Activision. By the end of all of it, The Silver Lining
was allowed to be completed, and even still be a King's Quest
game, so long as King's Quest
was no longer in the title. Sweet times!
This all brings us here, with my review of the first episode of the finally completed game. Episode 1, What is Decreed Must Be
, is to serve as a sort of re-introduction into the King's Quest
universe, which is good because I've never played a King's Quest
game in the first place. I hear they're hard. Are they hard?
So, anyway, what with The Silver Lining
being a free game and all, I figure I might as well try it out, and with Destructoid maybe-probably-not reviewing the game, I figured I'll do it for them. So, let's dive in, shall we?
Also, quick thing I should mention: I'm terrible at point-and-click adventure games. Absolutely god-awful. So... this should be fun?
Alright, so we're treated to a 6 six and a half minute intro movie where we see a wedding that starts out happy but very quickly goes horribly, horribly wrong. Sounds like a normal marriage, but this one went sour because one of the guests, the king's son (I think?) became posessed and fell unconscious and some large person in a black cloak suddenly appeared and shot the bride right in the face with a spell. Boom, headshot. Neither of them are dead, they're just under some sort of terrible spell. So, King Graham (you) must go on an adventure to save them. As King, he must quest. Like he's on some sort of... I can't think of it right now but it'll come to me.
As we find out in the opening cutscene, the voice-acting is... well, it's lacking. Particularly in emotion (the slightly muffled sound quality is no help, either). The characters (save the narrator, who we'll get to later) all sound emotionless and bland. Maybe it's this High Fantasy stuff, but I can't shake the feeling of sterility out of the first cutscene. Everything is so picturesque and the characters strong and brave and without flaws (except, you know, being possessed or shot in the face by a spell). The story feels like a fan-fiction and I haven't even started the game yet. Come on, story writers, can we get characterizations for people other than "good" or "bad" or "neutral"?
The game's graphics are certainly not the most amazing, but they are stylized enough that they aren't super-advanced and still look pretty. Everything is bright and colorful and is pleasing to the eye. Overall, as far as fan-made stuff goes, the game's decent looking, although at this day and age I've seen a lot better, even as far as fan-made stuff goes. However, the game is lacking in the animation department at times. It's not too egregious, but people can look somewhat stiff at times. I'd say the worst part is Graham's walking animation, something which you'll be seeing the entire game. He walks like a robot.
I drew that bear while listening to the game's many and long narrations.
Playing the game is simple enough. You point-and-click, and choose the various actions Graham can perform. You can move, talk to, grab, or look at. Walking around can be difficult because a lot of the time the camera works against you on occasion. Sure, the camera angle gives you a nice view of everything, but sometimes that nice view is away from where you want to go, so you're left to keep clicking the same small space in front of Graham's feet as he moves forward. I know it's a point-and-click game, but either give the player a camera angle that doesn't work against them, or allow for WASD key movements.
Something strange about this game is that there is a unique response to everything. Everything
. There's a unique response for the carpet, the marble columns, the walls, the guards, the torches, you name it. However, when I say "response", I don't mean an animation of Graham trying to yank the marble columns out or giving the freakish dog-person guards a pat on the head. I mean the narrator says stuff. A lot of stuff. The many narrations in the game are always incredibly long-winded. In fact, about 1/3 of the game I spent listening to the narrator say things. You would choose to look at the column, and the narrator will say "the column is pretty" (except longer), then describe what characteristics make the column pretty, then give a history of the column, and then tell you Graham's thoughts on the column. It's all incredibly long and this happens for each and every object in the game. I'm sure these narrations are a treat to old King's Quest
players and they're probably filled with tons of references and homages to the series, but the length is just unnecessary.
The creators tried to inject a bunch of humor into the narration, too. There's fourth-wall breaking abound and strange references and all kinds of weird things being said about everything, but not a lot of it is funny. Perhaps the jokes would be funnier if the narration was shorter (Shakespeare once said "Brevity is wit", the quote shortened for effect ), perhaps it would be funnier if they didn't break the fourth wall so much, as breaking the fourth wall is only not-nauseating when it's done sparingly. Either way, something in the humor is off. Don't people know how to write good humor these days?
All the previous stuff I can look past if the game is still fun, and in the beginning it showed promise of doing that, and until the end of Episode 1, the game threatens to be fun. However, Episode 1 is so short that I don't know if it's fun yet. The game has 7 areas to do stuff in (some of which you just walk though or are free to skip or not notice altogether), and all there really is to do is collect two things from the same room and then give them to some guy with two people to talk to along the way. That's it. That's all that happens. The rest of the game is narration or exploring the tiny areas you're in.(with no reward but more narration). There is barely anything in Episode 1. If you took out the gameplay and just had the cutscenes, you wouldn't realize it was gone.
The bottom line of the game is that it would be so much better if it weren't so entrenched in it's "Made by harcore King's Quest
fans" persona. It's understandable that they love the series and want it to have a fitting end, but they got too stuck on that persona that they ended up making a game of nothing but references for people who have played the series before to go "Anh! Anh! Get it?!" It's like The Familly Guy, but with more pandering.
Yet, at the same time, it's also got more heart and soul. I really wanted to love The Silver Lining
simply because it was an endeavor of love from some truly passionate people, and the references were being made because the creators wanted veterans of the series to be assured that King's Quest
is in good hands. But they were so focused on showing their love for the series that they forgot to put an actual game there. In the end, What Is Decreed Must Be
feels like a vaguely interactive fan-fiction.
It's possible, and I'm really, really hoping that, in Episode 2, the game really takes off. As I said at the beginning, it's been said that Episode 1 is meant to re-introduce you to the series. Maybe now that they're done re-introducing us they'll get to the actual meat of the game. I hold out some hope yet for when Episode 2 comes out.
After all, it would be a shame if those 9 years of work were for nothing.