King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Once upon a time the mere mention of the words King's Quest was enough, everyone understood exactly what to expect in a game with such an exalted title. Not so now after the release of King's Quest: Mask of Eternity as those words will surely have some newer players sharpening up their swords and anticipating a solid hack and slash romp.
Take note, this is an older game belonging to the older style of King's Quest titles with a third person, fairy tale story, and lots of inventory-based puzzles to solve. Hack and slash is not what King's Quest VI is about. Even if you could, it would be inadvisable to dispense with the characters you meet because many have important information to impart
Although you don't need to have played the previous games King's Quest VI picks up sometime after the last chapter when King Graham was on a mission to rescue his family (Queen Valanice, Princess Rosella and Prince Alexander) from the clutches of the evil Mordock. By pure coincidence Princess Cassima was also a prisoner and she too was released, but not before capturing Alexander's heart. Unfortunately, Cassima's freedom was short lived as she seemingly jumped from the frying pan into the fire to find herself once again a wretched prisoner upon her return home.
In this title you take control of Alexander and, after being alerted to Cassima's fate by the magic mirror, your goal is to travel to the Land of the Green Isles to free your heart's desire.
King's Quest VI is a mouse-driven game with a bank of icons from which to select the various actions you wish to carry out, it has an easily accessible inventory where you can identify and manipulate objects, plus plenty of save game slots.
As it is around seven years old it's unfair to compare the graphics with current titles but it still creates a magical world to explore with plenty of characters to meet. The voice acting is mostly very good and it offers the options to switch between voices and text, to speed up character movement, and to adjust sound levels from within the game.
Besides its many puzzles one of the charms of this game is the number of colourful characters that you must engage in conversation. As with other King's Quests this one draws on myths and fairy tales thus it features a mean Minotaur and a handsome prince who has been transformed into an ugly beast. If you want to find your way around the Green Isles it is essential to talk to all the characters to gather information and pick up clues, as well as pick up everything you find and examine it carefully.
The game provides a magic map for travel between the islands so, if you want to get anywhere in this game one of your first tasks is to find it. During play you'll have to locate the mysterious Isle of Mists which has been lost in time. You may also want to help the ugly beast regain his former glory, rescue the princess from the Minotaur's Maze or even find the ingredients and create the magic spells to bring forth rain or to travel to the Land of the Dead. It's all magical stuff although there are a couple of dead ends which can mean that you have to repeat sections of play if you are not careful.
There is so much to do in this chapter of the King's Quest saga and more so because towards the end there are two pathways to your final goal. It's worth playing both of them. I must admit this is one of my favourite King's Quest titles even though it shamelessly exploits the damsel in distress theme. It has some very good puzzles and problems that are great fun to solve and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for everyone who isn't too 'grown-up' to enjoy it. It's a great title to play along with the kids, don't worry The Land of the Dead is not too horrific and the game is available as part of a compilation of King's Quest Titles which makes it even more inviting.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1999.
All rights reserved.
(Minimum) 386, 2 MB RAM, 1 MB hard drive space, 256 colours video card, CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster or compatible sound card, Microsoft-compatible mouse.