Anthony's Film Review
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
(Video Game, 1992)
The sixth entry in the King's Quest series is no doubt one of the greatest adventure games ever made...
The King's Quest series of games, designed by Roberta Williams, is one of the longest running series in computer game history. Spanning eight games from 1984 to 1998, King's Quest takes the player on a journey through different enchanting lands, filled with wonder, danger, and excitement. With the exception of the eighth game, an action role-playing game centered on a character not seen in the earlier games, King's Quest involves intellectual puzzles and adventures centering on members of the royal family of Daventry: King Graham, Queen Valanice, Prince Alexander, and Princess Rosella.
If I have to review just one King's Quest game, it would naturally be the best one. That game is, without a doubt, King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. Everything about this game is just perfect. Don't be surprised to see this game in any source celebrating the best games ever made. In fact, I will tell you right now that my rating for this game is a solid 10/10. It's all because of two things: a memorable story and creative puzzles.
In this game, Prince Alexander is the protagonist. He has fallen in love with Princess Cassima, who lives in the Land of the Green Isles. The two met briefly during the finale of King's Quest V. Because Alexander cannot stop thinking about Cassima, he sails to the Land of the Green Isles to visit her. But then a storm arrives, shipwrecking him. To his luck, he is not stranded on an uncharted island. He has miraculously ended up at his destination.
However, Princess Cassima is not to be disturbed. This is what a vizier named Abdul Alhazred tells Alexander, who realizes he is at a loss. Alexander decides to explore the different islands of the kingdom. There's the Isle of the Crown where he just arrived. There's also the Isle of Wonder with a beach and a chessboard land, the Isle of the Beast with a luscious garden, and the Isle of the Sacred Mountain with a minotaur inside the mysterious Catacombs. Though I won't spoil the details, I will say that Alexander may soon find a new place or two to explore besides these four islands.
Soon, Alexander learns that the islands are actually feuding. The leaders of the four isles are accusing each other of stealing sacred treasures from one another. What started as a traveler's pleasure has turned into a situation that calls for heroic action. Alexander finds himself performing deeds for others, and it may be up to him and only him to restore peace. Along the way, he just might be able to see Princess Cassima after all.
Now that I've laid out the story, which, by the way, is fantastically written by Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight fame, let me talk about the puzzles. In my opinion, the best adventure game puzzles are those that are both challenging and fun and certainly have to be logical. King's Quest VI succeeds on that level. I really enjoyed exploring things I could pick up and interact with. Even better is how new puzzles pop up in familiar locations, which is how this game can accomplish so much despite only a few major locations in the game's setting. Best of all, some puzzles have multiple solutions, which does lead to one of several possible endings once you finish the game.
The last thing I'll mention is the music. It is just wonderful. Game composer Chris Braymen created tunes for all kinds of settings, from the pleasant to the dark. I like the tunes for the Isle of the Crown, the fountain on the Isle of the Beast, and the Lord of the Dead. Believe it or not, there is a signature song for this game, a love song called "Girl in the Tower." It is such a marvelous song, one that folks at Sierra On-Line considered promoting through radio stations, though I don't think that materialized.
As you can tell, I love King's Quest VI. I am not exaggerating when I say that it's one of the best computer games I have ever played. It's fun, exciting, gripping, and satisfying overall. This is the game that I believe is Roberta Williams's crowning achievement among all the games she had ever designed. And if we were to compile an archive or time capsule to commemorate the best computer games in existence, King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow surely deserves to be recognized this way. It represents, in my opinion, the golden age of computer games.
For more information about King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.