Review: King’s Quest Chapter 2—”Rubble Without a Cause” (PC)

kings-quest-rubble-without-a-cause-box-art-002Developer: The Odd Gentleman
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Steam, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Fantasy
Rating: E-10+ (Fantasy Violence)
Price: $9.99
This episode sprung up on me. I’d heard rumors that the next game in this new King’s Quest series would come out in 2015, and I checked back every few weeks until the holidays swept me away. Then just last month, I remembered to check again lo and behold the next episode was out! As I waited for the game to download, I had a mix of hope and apprehension. The last game was a bit immature for my taste. Would this one be better or worse? Check out my review of the first episode before reading on!

Content Guide

Spiritual Content:  Like most fantasy stories, this one includes a good deal of magic. The Hobblepots create a few potions to aid in escape attempts.
Violence: The violence is definitely upped in this game over the previous entry. Characters can and will die of starvation or sickness. The goblins will carry away their lifeless bodies on stretchers to a morgue-like room. You can also die by a giant molerat, but you’re killed off-screen. Amaya punches and kicks goblins during escape attempts. Goblins also knock Graham out to kidnap him and shake him violently to make sure he doesn’t have any contraband before he goes to sleep every night.
Language/Crude Humor: No language, but Graham in an over-hyped moment gets into the position of a cat about to lick himself.
Sexual Themes: Only when some goblins kiss a frog trying to turn it into a prince.
Drug/Alcohol Use: None of note.
Positive Themes: Graham still deals with the grief and guilt of Achaka’s death. He is haunted by dreams and visions of the dragon that killed his good friend. He carries this guilt throughout the game as he is afraid that he is going to fail the villagers too. But through his trials, he learns how to conquer this fear and move past it— really inspiring to see.

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Review

Graham is King of Daventry, but when the royal responsibilities and the nagging guilt of Achaka’s death force him to take a walk to compose himself, goblins use this opportunity ambush and capture him. Deep in the goblin caves, he discovers he wasn’t the only one kidnapped, but five of the villagers and Mr. Fancycakes have been as well. Graham must find a way to escape and keep his friends alive, but it’s impossible for him to save them all. Which ones will he choose?
To play the game, you use the control keys (W, A, S, D) to move around and the spacebar or mouse to interact with objects, climb, jump, or select your dialogue. You can access your inventory via the tab key and quit the game with the escape key.
This game has many similarities to King’s Quest III: Heir is Human. You are timed in a way as you only have so many days to save characters before they die, and you have to hide items to keep the goblins from confiscating them. The goal of the game is to escape with as many characters alive as you can. You have four parties of characters captured and you can only save three out of four of those parties maximum. The groups are Mr. and Mrs. Hobblepot, Amaya, the goat-like creature Mr. Fancycakes, and Wente and his wife who is pregnant with their first child.
Each of these characters have a health bar of five hearts. You can replenish it by giving them food or medicine. The hearts deplete as days pass and you have to go to sleep in your bed to elapsetime or you can’t complete the game. If the hearts run out, they die. On top of that food is scarce because the goblins’ food dispensing system is broken, and at the beginning of the game you wake up weak from being knocked out by the goblins, so you don’t have the strength to do many tasks and have to gather food for yourself as well. No pressure!
This plot is certainly compelling and had me glued to the keyboard, reluctant to stop. I completed the game in three days playing a little every night. I actually restarted the game because one of the characters died before I discovered that one must die. I ended up cheating and looking at the hints because I hate letting characters pass away in video games when I don’t want them to; the revelation of the inevitable  was very intense for me. Old King Graham narrates King’s Quest 2 like he did in the last as he recounts the tale to his grandchildren Gwendolyn and Garth. You sometimes get some sassy remarks from the grandchildren or a bad pun from Old King Graham.
Voice talents from Christopher Lloyd, Wallace Shawn, Michael Keaton, and Zelda Williams return and they portray their characters with excellence. Graham has quite the character arc in this story which is interesting to see, while the other side characters add life to the plot. Meanwhile,  our antagonists the goblins are a little comical in their role, so I’m hoping the villains mature as they go. I miss `such as Mordack, Mananaan, and Abdul Alhazred, villains that struck fear into you.

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Throughout King’s Quest 2, you travel in the underground goblin city which is both dark yet beautiful as there are many luminescent plants. As with the previous installment, the animation is beautiful. It’s a unique style, but it allows for gorgeous scenery and very expressive characters. However, some of the character designs are a bit childish. In the background, a beautiful and fitting score plays with notes that allude back to the original games, especially King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.
This is a well-animated, scored, and casted game, but I am still hoping for a more perilous storyline. Rubble Without a Cause definitely upped the ante, but I’m hoping to find more mature plots such as in the original games like King Graham’s entire castle with his family in it stolen by Mordack in vengeance of Mananaan’s death, or Malicia trying to activate a volcano to destroy Etheria, or Lucreto stealing the Mask of Eternity and plunging the world into darkness. I want more of a sense of danger with the characteristic terrible deaths like falling off cliffs or being killed by yetis or krakens or vicious tides. I see elements of these coming back, so I’m hoping the next games will deliver.

The Bottom Line

King's Quest: Rubble Without a Cause is a definite improvement over its predecessor. The original gripping peril and stronger references to fairy tales coming back. There are still some kiddy elements that could be toned down, but the story ends on great cliffhanger that leaves me wanting for more.

 

8

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Victoria Grace Howell

Victoria Grace Howell is an artist and aspiring speculative fiction writer. She received Teen Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Florida Christian Writers Conference , a conference she attended since 2010, and the Believers Trust Award in 2015. When she's not writing her books or articles, she enjoys drawing her characters, playing the piano and practicing Kung Fu.

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