It’s been a long road to get here, but over a year after the first episode, King’s Quest has come to a close. Traveling full circle, Chapter 5, The Good Knight, is one of the best episodes of the series. Simultaneously pulling at your heartstrings, serving up fun puzzles, and honoring a series that helped build the modern adventure game genre, the final chapter of King’s Quest is a delicate balancing act. But the team at The Odd Gentlemen pulls it off to near perfection.
There are a lot of ingredients that can go into making an interesting adventure game, be it entertaining characters, enticing environments, thoughtful puzzles, or even just an intriguing plot. The Good Knight delivers on all of these. But on top of that, it’s the finer touches, the allusions to the many inspirations that have come before, which really make the fifth and final chapter shine.
The story is still presented through the framed narrative of ailing King Graham telling stories of his life to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. With each episode, the stories have progressed through Graham’s life, but we have now almost caught up to the present as the king tells the story of his last great adventure. With the character now an old man in both timelines, Christopher Lloyd takes over as the voice of Graham in the story and as the narrator, lending his amazing voice more to this episode than any previous.
Where things truly become interesting is in the fact that, in the present, King Graham’s health is failing. Trying to tell one last story on what is likely his deathbed, his mind slips in and out, causing him to forget specific details. This is then reflected in the environment around the player. What could have been an emotionally powerful, but largely aesthetic part of the story, actually ends up lending itself to some of the most clever, and heartbreaking, puzzle mechanics in the series.
Combining Graham’s own failing mind with constant emotional beats throughout, The Good Knight roots itself in the experience of loss and getting older. Generally, you would never say it’s a good thing for a puzzle to bring a tear to your eye, but King’s Quest proves it can be done, and does it very well.
Despite such weighty emotions though, the final episode never loses sight of the golden lightheartedness that makes King’s Quest so beloved. Ridiculous situations, puns, and plenty of humor still make their way into proceedings, even as the narrative itself tackles more substantial issues.
Playing into the same central principles of age and memory, Chapter 5 manages to impressively inspire nostalgia not only for the original 80s and 90s games on which the reboot is based, but even for the first episode of this very series. The Good Knight finally sees you return to explore Daventry itself, complete with its bridge trolls, floating island, and winding forest paths. Though the years have changed many things about the area, once more making your way from one recognizable locale to another feels strangely like coming home. Treading the fine line between old and new, The Odd Gentlemen craft a world just as interesting to explore as it was in Chapter 1, but now chock-full of memories and heartfelt meaning around every corner.
While doing all of this, The Good Knight also manages to bring a worthy conclusion to the conflict between Graham and Manny. Due to the structure of the previous episodes, Christopher Lloyd and Wallace Shawn never actually shared a scene as Graham and Manny until now. Thankfully, Chapter 5 ends that trend, making full use of both and being well worth it. In similar to fashion of previous episodes, the conclusion comes off just as hilarious as it does poignant.
If there is one weak spot in The Good Knight, it’s that the puzzles themselves could be a bit more difficult. But it is a minor fault, if one at all. In the end, each puzzle still filled me with the same satisfied jolt of success, even if they didn’t make me pause and consider as long as some of the puzzles in previous episodes.
Every aspect of King’s Quest Chapter 5 overflows with love and respect for the franchise, the players that have stuck with it, and the adventure game genre as a whole. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting end to the story of King Graham, or even a more touching send off for the King’s Quest series. But more than that, The Good Knight is simply a great piece of storytelling and shouldn’t be missed.