The once proud kingdom of Daventry is in ruins. The queen is dead, leaving the old king without a heir. The kingdom is missing its three most important items: a magic mirror, which predicts the future, a magic shield, which defends the kingdom from its enemies, and a treasure chest that is always full. Sir Graham, the bravest knight in the kingdom was charged by the king to find these items, in exchange for the for the crown. Over the course of the game, Sir Graham will fight an evil witch, a dwarf, wizard, ogre, and many more fairy-tale beings, in order to recover the three magic items and save the kingdom. If you haven't already guessed it, Sir Graham is your character.
King's Quest became one of the best known and most influental computer games of all times. It started one of the largest franchises in the history of PC gaming, being responsible not only for its own eight-part series, but also for Quest for Glory, Space Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. In 1984, the game was hailed as an absolute technological breakthrough. It is sad that the content of the game didn't live up to its promise...
From the technological side, there is nothing to complain about. By that time, Sierra was on the forefront in technological advancement in PC games. Its first game, Mystery House, became the first graphical adventure, at a time when everybody else was playing Zork. King's Quest went even further, featuring a 16-color CGA palette and an unheard-of 3D engine. Unlike previous games, where you got stationary screen or, at best, a character moving on a flat bacground, suddenly you could move up and down, in addition to the sideways movement. Not only that: you could move behind or on the top of various objects, which sometimes was required for the successful solution of a puzzle. Nobody cared that the resolution was so bad that sometimes you had a problem to distinguish your character from a tree: the 3D engine was simply too awesome.
However, the game still behaved like an interactive fiction game. It featured a text parser, where you had to type in commands. In fact, the combination of graphics and the text parser made matters worse: you never knew how certain items were called. That is, if you could actually recognize them. In addition to this small problem, the game had a little frustrating map. The gaming world consisted of a number of interconnected screens. However, the world wrapped around: if you walked far enough in one direction, you'd come where you left from. This made mapping the world harder than solving most puzzles.
The main problem with the game, however, lay in its substance. Compared with even the earliest Zork, King's Quest had not really a story at all. You were dumped into a world, without knowing what to do. Most puzzles could be solved my knowing a couple of fairy tales, but they were so eclectic, that finding a common denominator and trying to form a story from them was impossible. This has greatly detracted from my enjoyment of the game, especially considering my previous involvement with text-based adventures. In addition to the lack of a story, the puzzles also left lots to be desired. While mostly logical, there were many instances when you could give away a vital item, and not be able to finish a game. These kill-bugs were so prominent in the game, that I don't know anybody who'd finish King's Quest on the first try. Finally, a few random characters, such as a witch and a dwarf, were appearing on some screens, trying to chase you down. Getting caught meant either instant death or the loss of a potentially vital item.
Despite these shortcommings, King's Quest was a very enjoyable game. Adventure purists will tell you that it degraded the once great text-based adventure games to cheap entertainment, but the truth is that King's Quest and its spinn-offs have brought more mainstream audience to computer games than Zork ever did. The game was one of the ground stones for modern gaming, and as such deserves recognition.