Games We Love – King’s Quest VI

The first real game I ever finished was King’s Quest VI and the memory of the experience sticks with me to this day.

When I was 11 years old my family computer upgraded from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 and so began my journey into gaming. The first games I ever played were games my parents bought for me. My collection consisted of King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (on CD, no less!), Civilization II and Sim City 2000. It was a great time to be a young gamer. While Civilization II and Sim City 2000 occupied oodles of my time for years and years, King’s Quest VI occupied my mind. King’s Quest VI is, in my opinion, one of the greatest games ever made and is the pinnacle of adventure gaming’s greatest hour.

An Amazing Story

King’s Quest VI takes place in a fantastical gaming world in which a young Prince Alexander sets out to sail across the ocean in search of Princess Cassima, whom he fell in love with while trapped in his castle with her during the storyline of King’s Quest V. She has returned to her homeland, the mysterious Green Isles, and while searching for her, Alexander’s ship wrecks, and he, the sole survivor, washes ashore on the royal island.

Alexander arrives at the Princess’ castle to find that her parents both died while she was away and that a royal vizier has taken control of the kingdom in their absence. When he asks to see Cassima he is told that she is in mourning and, determined, love-struck young man that he is, Alexander sets out to see her through any means necessary.

King’s Quest VI succeeds on a great many levels. It’s story is first rate, a love tale interwoven with mythology and fable. It’s world is unique beyond measure. It’s characters are diverse, and it’s storyline is branching. There is so much to see and do in this world that it can command your attention for days on end.

The Worlds Are Unique and Gorgeous

Yes, it’s a 1992 title, but don’t let the date fool you. This game was revolutionary at the time. It’s hand-painted backgrounds look stunning and the art direction is quite simply awe-inspiring. The settings are incredibly diverse and you can spend time just looking around in amazement that this game is nearly 20 years old.

The world these scenes paint is brilliant. There are four known islands within the game, a fifth, hidden one that you will uncover along your journey, and there is also the underworld, where you will go for a reason I won’t let in on in order to avoid spoilers. Each island setting offers a host of places to see. There is a world that looks like a chess board and is populated by chess pieces. The underworld features beautifully designed buildings that are molded from skeletal structures, and the islands take you to heavily forested lands to mountainous hideouts to lush, tropical landscapes. Every building you can enter, every place you’ll visit is unique and beautiful and worthy of exploration.

The Characters Are Funny and Diverse

The sheer variety of characters who inhabit the world is impressive. There is a genie who is addicted to mints (and can get drunk on them, coincidentally), a quiet, beautiful girl who has a wicked stepmother, a king and queen whose daughter has been selected for sacrifice and there are a wide diversity of unique creatures such as a black widow spider who has an appetite for husbands and a court jester who is none too happy. Honestly, the characters are incredible and they are unlike characters I’ve ever come across.

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Puzzles? Perfect.

Puzzles can be a mixed bag in many games. They’re either too easy or too difficult or just plain stupid and don’t seem to make sense given the context of the situation. There have been many times where I’ve wondered why I have to “solve” a way to get past a door. But, King’s Quest VI rewards gamers with intelligent, fun titles that aren’t too difficult. Think outside the box and you have the solution to some problems while others are a matter of trial and error but they never feel frustrating. King’s Quest VI is an example of how to do puzzles right. They always have a reason, are consistently fun and don’t frustrate the hell out of you.

There are puzzles that are worded in the form of riddles to unlock a hidden staircase in a cliff. There’s a pond full of boiling water. How do you cross it? The castle gates are guarded. How are you going to get in? The answers aren’t always obvious, but they sure are fun to figure out. There’s a huge amount of pride to be gained in working your way through them. Your chest will swell with accomplishment, I promise you.

Multiple Endings

Did you know multiple endings existed in the 1990s? Well, King’s Quest VI can end several different ways. I won’t reveal anything about the endings except that they are taut, exciting and it’s well worth playing through the game several times in order to experience the different ways things can work out in the final few hours of play.

Adventure At Its Finest

Finally, what better reason to play King’s Quest VI than to experience why adventure gaming was so great. Yes, there are once again adventure games in the world. The resurgence of Sam & Max as well as Monkey Island is great news for adventure gamers (and all gamers), but the heyday of the adventure game was in the late 80s and early 90s, and King’s Quest VI, by our account and by many others, is the pinnacle of the adventure game. This isn’t just a good game, it’s a great game. One of the best ever made, and it should be experienced by everyone who loves gaming. Penned by Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen, King’s Quest VI‘s artistic direction, amazing story and fantastic characters and puzzles makes it a game we love (and one you should try your hand at).