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King's Quest

aka: KQ1, King's Quest 1, King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
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Buy on Amiga
Buy on Apple II
Buy on DOS
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Description official descriptions

Sir Graham is a brave knight who is sent on a quest to retrieve three treasures that were stolen by deception and stealth: a shield that protects its bearer from invaders, a mirror that foretells the future, and a treasure chest that is forever filled with gold. If Graham takes these treasures back to the royal castle, then the ailing King Edward the Benevolent of Daventry will hand over the crown. During his travels, Graham will meet characters that will either help or hinder him.

King's Quest is commonly considered the progenitor of third-person-perspective adventure games. As opposed to earlier graphic adventures, the player is able to navigate the protagonist on screen in eight directions, creating an effect of three-dimensional exploration. The player character can also be obscured from view when hiding behind an object, is subjected to gravity, and has different animations for actions such as picking up an item, falling, swimming, etc. Graham can be moved around with arrow keys and perform various actions when the player types commands, normally consisting of noun and verb combinations (e.g. "Take flower", "Talk man", etc.).

The game world consists of a cyclic outdoor area with places of interest (houses, characters, etc.) that must be found through exploration. Much of the kingdom is accessible to Graham from the beginning, and there are only a few restrictions imposed on traveling. In order to complete the game, the player has to procure certain items and use them in correct situations or with specific characters. Some of the puzzles rely on fairy tales, and a good knowledge of those makes them easier to solve.

The game awards the player points for most of the actions he makes Graham perform. Since some of those are not crucial to completion, it is quite possible to finish the game without having attained the full score. Some of the tasks in the game have multiple solutions, though the game may grant the player less points if he chooses the simpler one. Many hazards await Graham on his journey, and death is frequent if the player is not careful. The game can also be rendered unwinnable by failing to collect a specific item or wasting it.

Groups +


Credits (PC Booter version)

11 People (8 developers, 3 thanks)



Average score: 68% (based on 19 ratings)


Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 184 ratings with 12 reviews)

An oldie, but not a goodie

The Good
Well, the title screen is quite nice, what with the beeper song and all... And I guess this game was the first to use Sierra's "move the little Lego-man around and try to guess what to type"-interface, which I quite like. I suppose that if I had played this when it first came out I would have been really impressed with it - the graphics, the gameplay and, indeed, the whole concept of an animated 3D adventure game. Now all I can say is that the yellow geek with the funny hat is pretty smoothly animated. (All right, the graphics aren't all that bad for low-res EGA alltogether.)

The Bad
I didn't like the fact that it's an arcade game with a bad parser and puzzles. I do appreciate the fact that back in those days you really couldn't fit a lot of storyline and a complex parser AND 16-color graphics and animation in an IBM PC. What I don't appreciate is the really pathetic overall plot and mood, and the puzzles that are not only simple but often frustrating instead of puzzling. The idea of adventure games should not be to try everything until you find a solution that doesn't kill you or stop you from advancing - I refer you to the gnome's name puzzle (which was made easier in later versions).

The Bottom Line
King's Quest is not a very good game, and it certainly isn't a good adventure game. It isn't loads of fun to play nor particularly rewarding. However, it is a classic and a ground-breaker, and since its relatively cheap these days, you might as well try it out - its not half as bad as a lot of other games, and not playing it just because its not very good is like not reading "War and Peace" just because its dead boring. (Figure that one out for yourself...)

DOS · by Late (77) · 2001

Good start for the good series

The Good
The best is compare the game to what was available when King's Quest was shown on PC-s for the first time. Other adventure games of that time were either text-only or static screens with text descriptions. Compared to that, King's Quest was really vibrant. It was first of its kind in that regard.

Another nice point (on PC) is that even if some other adventure games had static screens graphics, this graphics was mostly CGA and in many cases quite ugly. King's Quest I came with PCjr/Tandy support with already first 1984 release, using all 16-colors and graphics, even if quite low-res, was really nice and full-screen. The game gave fairy-tales vibes to player perfectly.

Regarding gameplay, puzzles were ok (I think I looked into walkthrough only once), many puzzles were possible to solve in different manners (having different points). Exploring Kingdom of Daventry was enjoyable.

The Bad
Story is really simple, a bit naive. Just find 3 treasures in the kingdom to become new king. And yeah, puzzle with eagle was really a bit frustrating (this is the point when I looked into walkthrough).

The Bottom Line
Good start into series, which I enjoyed playing even in modern times for the first time. There were adventure games before, but for me, this one was the first which defined the genre.

DOS · by Vladimir Dienes · 2023

Sierra's first quest was the dawn of a new era

The Good
Sir Graham is sent by King Edward to find the three lost treasures of Daventry. Find them to become King yourself. The graphics are dated today obviously but at the time they were incredible. The story is simple & a knowledge of fairy tales will help in knowing what to do next. There are sometimes two different ways to solve a puzzle, an okay way & a good way for maximum points. A fun way to kill a few hours even today.

The Bad
The inane gnome puzzle, so bad it was simplified in later versions.

The Bottom Line
This piece of gaming history marked the point when PC games went from interactive fiction to graphical.

DOS · by Grumpy Quebecker (12) · 2023

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Year PCjr? Edwin Drost (6822) Mar 21st, 2017
Any other adventure games like KQ1&3? Lain Crowley (6594) Mar 30th, 2012


Code Decryption

The developers used encryption to hide code from prying eyes. The encryption key was Avis Durgan. However, according to PC Gamer (July 2000), nobody can remember why this key was chosen or who Avis Durgen is -- not even Ken Williams!

.. but Al Lowe does remember:

Avis was Jeff Stephenson's wife's maiden name. I guess he was in love!


Originally developed by Sierra On Line and produced by IBM as a show piece for the IBM PCjr. The game was later produced by Sierra and was the foundation of the best-selling King's Quest series.


Sir Graham was so named because of designer Roberta Williams' fondness for graham crackers.

IBM Front Cover

Check out the IBM box's front cover--it has a completely wrong description and picture of King's Quest; this is because the box ad copy was written before the game was completed.


From 1995 through 1996 Boulevard Books published a trilogy of novels inspired by the King's Quest game setting of Daventry and featuring members of its royal family as the main protagonists:

  • The Floating Castle (1995), by Craig Mills, dealing with adventures Prince Alexander experiences between the events of King's Quests V and VI;
  • The Kingdom of Sorrow (1996), by Kenyon Morr, filling in some blanks regarding King Graham's activities between King's Quests II and III; and
  • See No Weevil (1996), also by Kenyon Morr, taking place seven years after the Kingdom of Sorrow and giving Graham's daughter, Princess Rosella, a chance to rule as regent during a crisis.


The flag of Daventry, as seen in the throne room, is in fact the flag of Sierra Leone. This is actually a pun referring to the development company, Sierra On-Line.

References to the Game

The website Homestarrunner.com created a game named Peasent's Quest quite similar to King's Quest. It has EGA graphics, text based typing, and the main character Rather Dashing is designed a little like Sir Graham.


A complete version of King's Quest is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured with the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.

Rumpelstilskin Puzzle

One puzzle, naming the gnome's real name must have been deemed too hard (or obscure) in the original version of King's Quest. I believe the clue was "Think back-wards" or something along those lines. The answer? The player had to write out the alphabet as follows:

Substitute the letters from Rumplestiltskin with the letter below on the line. Of course most people entered Rumplestiltskin spelled backwards (logical) and this didn't work. In the SCI (1987) re-release of the game, the puzzle was made simpler with Rumplestiltskin backwards being the correct answer.


King's Quest was the first Sierra game to use the AGI game engine, which was used in Sierra's later games throughout the '80's. The way the engine was setup made it easy to port a game written with AGI to other computer platforms.


  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2007 - One of the "Ten Most Influential PC-Games". It managed to link texts and graphics and caused the rise of Graphic Adventures.

Information also contributed by Andrew Shepard; Indra, Joakim Möller, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ricky Derocher, rstevenson, Shai Greenberg, Tibes80, and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

Related Games

King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Released 2001 on Linux, DOS, Windows
King's Quest: Collector's Edition
Released 1994 on DOS, Windows 3.x
King's Quest II: Romancing the Stones
Released 2002 on Linux, Windows, 2010 on Macintosh
King's Quest I+II+III
Released 2010 on Windows
King's Quest: Mask of Eternity
Released 1998 on Windows
King's Quest 7+8
Released 2010 on Windows
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human
Released 1986 on DOS, 1987 on Atari ST, Amiga...
King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human
Released 2006 on Windows
King's Quest 4+5+6
Released 2010 on Windows

Related Sites +

  • AGD Interactive
    Download King's Quest 1 remake for free
  • Game Map (Sega Master System)
    Images with maps of all locations and their position to each other.
  • King's Quest Realm
    An interesting sight devoted to the entire King's Quest series. It offers hints, a message board and a superb section devoted to the history of these popular games.
  • King's Quest at Wikipedia
    Includes an entire history and list of creatures, games in the series and more.
  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIgs versions of King's Quest under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.
  • Sierra Gamers
    The Official Website of Ken Williams and King's Quest creator, Roberta Williams.
  • The King's Quest series at Game Nostalgia
    An illustrated overview of King’s Quest 1984 up to King's Quest: Mask of Eternity (including various fan games).

Identifiers +


Know about this game? Add your expertise to help preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Roark.

Amiga added by POMAH. Apple II added by KnockStump. Macintosh added by Martin Smith. SEGA Master System added by Katakis | カタキス. Apple IIgs added by Garcia. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Paul Budd, Indra was here, Katakis | カタキス, Jeanne, Guy Chapman, Andrew Shepard, game nostalgia, Macs Black, Picard, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST.

Game added May 18th, 1999. Last modified August 17th, 2023.