King's Quest

aka: KQ1, King's Quest 1, King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Moby ID: 122

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 68% (based on 19 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 187 ratings with 12 reviews)

Original classic adventure game that started the best adventure series of all time!

The Good
This game was very entertaining to me because at the time, I never had played anything quite like it. The way you could just wander around and explore the country-side gave you a very "free as a bird" kind of feeling when playing. There really was no strict linear path you must follow (except the king's items you must retrieve) but as far as wandering, you can basically go anywhere. I loved this game, even though it was rather short and simple.... it is a classic and the predecessor for many many games to follow.

The Bad
There wasn't really anything about this game I didn't like. It was the first of its kind and one thing this game didn't offer and didn't offer until about KQ3 was characters. There wasn't any personality to any of the characters in the game but it didn't harm the game at all. This game was written perfectly in my opinion.

The Bottom Line
A timeless classic that should be played to the finish by anyone who is a classic PC game fan. This is the game that really started it all (of all the Sierra Quest series). A great title from Roberta Williams!!

DOS · by OlSkool_Gamer (88) · 2004

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 (774) · 2023

The daddy of all adventure games.

The Good
The one that started it all. If you want to play the original Sierra adventure game this is it. If you want to experience some nostalgia from your childhood or something you and your family can play together and have fun. This is a good game for you.

The Bad
Quite dated by today's standards. If your computer doesn't have the ability to run an old DOS program you probably won't be able to enjoy this game. Also if you are looking for good graphics, sound, and a nice mouse interface you are looking at the wrong game.

The Bottom Line
This was the grand daddy of all adventure games. The one that started it all. Before Kings Quest these type of games didn't exist. A couple of weeks ago I played this game for the first time in about 15 years and I must say it brought back a lot of memories. Sure it's quite dated by today's standards. But even now its still fun and challenging to play.

DOS · by Scott Bergstrom (1) · 2005

Welcome to the wonderful world of King's Quest.

The Good
* Multiple versions cater for early computer users

Back in the early Nineties after playing King's Quest VI, I brought the original King's Quest from 1984. This was the version that used AGIv1 and had CGA graphics. It just wouldn't run on my old 486. Somehow years later I discovered that Sierra released multiple versions of the same game, and I was able to install the fifth release which added support for EGA and Hercules, and could be installed on a hard drive rather than having to be booted up from floppy. I was able to complete the game, and slowly had a go at the sequel.

* Alternate solutions for puzzles

Another thing that I liked are the different ways you can solve puzzles. Roberta Williams, the game's creator of King's Quest, intended to make the game non-violent as possible, and this trend continued for its successors. The alternate solutions usually involve violent actions in which you lose points.

* The game reminds you of fairy tales

The solutions to some puzzles require you to think back to those fairy tales that you used to enjoy as a child, and you are expected not to stick by them. For example, instead of luring the goat to the troll so that it can ram the troll like what happens in the Billy Goat story, you can give the troll something to pay for the toll if you are willing to sacrifice some points. As a person who has already forgotten what I read as a child, solving puzzles based on these fairy tales are welcome; and you do the same thing in KQ2.

* Nice music

Although the PC Speaker is used to generate sound in the game, I enjoyed listening to Greensleeves, KQ's main theme song. Users of Tandy computers get a better rendition of the theme song. If you haven't got a Tandy and would like to hear what the theme song was like on a Tandy, you could download a copy of DOSBox and use it to emulate the machine.

I have played the Apple IIgs version and it doesn't include Greensleaves. It also uses different pieces of music and great sound effects.

The Bad
* Roberta's interpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk is wrong

Anyone who has read this story will know that Jack trades a cow for magic beans so that he would plant them in the garden to make the beanstalk grow. Instead of adding a cow to the game, Roberta makes players guess the name of a gnome. Because of this, Sierra's hint line was overloaded by people who request hints on how to get the name right.

The Bottom Line
In 1980, a small company known as Sierra On-Line started life making adventure games for the Apple II. Their first game was Mystery House, and it was a step above normal text adventures that were available at the time as the game had a combination of graphics and text. Even though the graphics were black and white, things eventually changed when IBM asked Sierra to produce an adventure game to showcase the technological capabilities of their PC. The result was King's Quest. For the first time in history, KQ introduced color graphics, and featured a central character that they could move around the screen and use that character to interact with other characters in the game, as well as the environment.

King's Quest is a game for the whole family to enjoy. It was the first game to introduce text and full-color graphics at the same time. Of course with any old Sierra adventure game, you have to enter commands at the keyboard. You have to do certain things that will most likely cause your death if you're not careful such as crossing the wooden bridge or climbing the beanstalk. That's what the save function is used for.

The game depends on you having a knowledge of popular fairy tales since you use them to complete the game. There are alternate solutions, but using these solutions means that you are sacrificing a few points. The game's theme tune is excellent, even if it is played through the PC Speaker, and the keyboard interface means that you can get away with entering anything and it won't cost you.

So in conclusion, if you are new to the KQ series and would like to play the first game, then try to hunt down one of the KQ collections in your local retro store.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2012

How a fairy tale expert can become alligator food

The Good
The first thing we need to understand when attempting to analyze King's Quest is its historical significance. It was more than just the first installment of a long and successful series; more even than a template its creators have been building upon ever since. It was, in fact, the first real adventure game where you navigated an on-screen character through the only kind of world that this perspective allowed to be called "three-dimensional" that time.

Before this game, all we could do in adventures was, at best, view still screens with text and some graphics representing locations. Only action games allowed us to move around a little digital incarnation of ourselves. The great achievement of King's Quest was transferring common mechanics of adventure genres into a world ripe with hazards that suddenly became so much more real because they actually physically happened to our avatar. It's one thing to type "N" or "W" and another to quickly run away from a maniacal ogre as he begins chasing you. It might be fulfilling to type "go upstairs", but certainly less so than actually doing it and trying not to fall down. When you pick up an item, you can see exactly how it is done. When you swim underwater, you stay with your character instead of letting the game do it for you.

It is customary to mock Sierra for inserting too many death scenes in their games. In some games they really overdid this mechanic, and it started to feel cheap as adventure game development was advancing and designers found better means to convey danger and make their worlds more absorbing. But this hardly applies to the first King's Quest, where this design philosophy was undeniably intentional and where constant danger added so much suspense to what was essentially a stroll through fairly repetitive outdoor areas.

King's Quest remains one of the surprisingly few examples of a truly non-linear adventure game. Even its own sequel, released shortly afterwards, forced you to complete its three "door-opening" quests in a specific order. Here, you can work on finding the three needed objects simultaneously, with nothing to restrain you. You can walk around as much as you want, provided you are careful enough, studying local geography and fauna, and gradually getting acquainted with the land. The freedom of choice gives the game a wonderful feeling of breadth and true adventuring spirit, surpassing in that sense the strangulating linearity of many later games.

The game awards you points for most of the actions you perform. That was one of Sierra's best inventions, again taking something from arcade games and applying it to a completely different genre. This simple feature gave adventures something other companies generally paid less attention to: replay value. You can complete King's Quest without having scored full points. You can, in fact, bypass some of the most confusing puzzles entirely and still finish the game. But then you'll want to play it again and find out what you might have missed. King's Quest also does what many later games stopped doing: offer multiple solutions to puzzles. You can, for example, slay the dragon in the game if you manage to find a rather well-hidden weapon. But a more interesting, non-violent way will yield more points as well.

King's Quest has fantastic graphics. We are talking about the year 1984, and I don't think there was much on the market that looked better than this. Already the very first screen of the game renders us speechless, displaying a colorful castle adorned with banners waving in the wind, fully animated alligators swimming around in the moat, and our fashionable hero proudly strolling with his feathered hat. Most people today are only familiar with the updated EGA version that came out three years later; but the original release looked stunning with its CGA composite mode.

The Bad
The flaws of King's Quest are all too obvious if we compare it to the generally more fondly remembered comedy games Sierra started doing later. Roberta Williams was probably thinking of children when she created the setting for the game, populating its world with harmless characters cut out of various fairy tales that didn't mesh with each other particularly well. A bad witch, a bad troll, a goat who likes carrots, a sleeping giant, a poor woodcutter and a few others are a far cry from some of the creatures you would encounter in earlier Infocom titles. The problem is that the game turned out to be too hard and punishing for children, ending up entertaining adults with magic beanstalk and a gnome whose name couldn't be guessed by rocket scientists.

As a result, the main problem of King's Quest becomes its lack of personality. There is really nothing distinguishing about anything you see or read in the game. The text is clearly written and at times attractive with its underlying energy, but ultimately rather plain and lacking wit and imagination. There is also not much of it, and though it is charming that sometimes you can receive feedback for actions that have nothing to do with advancing the plot, on many other occasions the game stubbornly refuses to cooperate, spouting out saddening strings of "You can't do that - at least not now" and "I don't understand ___".

In the realm of gameplay, this is manifested in the absence of a general "Look" command, which I really missed here. You can get fairly good descriptions for rooms, but as you explore lovely meadows and swim through serene lakes you won't be able to read anything like "Gleaming rays of Helios are surrealistically reflected in the depths of the hydrogen-filled basin, just as your own soul seeks astral redemption for your past karmic misdemeanors" or whatever.

The puzzles rely too much on the player's knowledge of fairy tales. I grew up outside of the Anglophone community that seems to be very fond of that particular genre, and therefore some of the solutions made very little sense to me. It was also confusing to reach dead ends more often than I wanted to, but after a while they sort of grew on me. Seriously, what is it about the modern obsession with absolute security in games? It's okay when games try to trick you, and it's rewarding when you figure out its tricks and avoid its traps.

The Bottom Line
King's Quest is a great technological achievement we should thank for opening the doors to a wonderful genre, but it's also more than that. It's easy to ridicule its shortcomings nowadays, but if you mentally teleport to its time you'll discover a surprisingly involving open-ended adventure with its own peculiar charm.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181769) · 2017

Truly one of the classics

The Good
Everything. The gameplay was complex and new for the time of release, as were the graphics. In a time when computer games consisted of black screens with dots on them and a lot of numbers to keep up with, Kings Quest showed what a computer game could be. I, along with many, many other people, was completly engrossed in this game for months during 1984 and 1985.

The Bad
The hardest thing about Kings Quest is that when compared to todays games it appears very old and dated. This is not a fault but something to be understood. The gameplay strongly overplays this and a good run through Kings Quest will give a modern gamer an understanding of his roots.

The Bottom Line
At the time of release Kings Quest was everything that a computer game tried to be. Over the test of time the gameplay has paled, as have the technical elements; but Kings Quest is still one of the classics, as it will always be. Anyone interested in where the computer games of today come from, why Sierra is a major player in the computer game world today (despite their recent work and reputation) and why the Kings Quest series of games have sold millions and millions of units should take a look at this game.

PC Booter · by Andy Roark (263) · 1999

The one that started it all...

The Good
This was my first "real game" - finally something that didn't involve shooting or similar arcade-like games. King's Quest was the stepping stone to what adventure games evolved today.

Boy was this game awesome back then! Interactive fiction with graphics was one thing, but having real graphics and manipulating with them was another...and so much color too! It's funny how great the graphics were back then, but looking back, boy do they look crappy...I wonder what graphics will look like in the future...hmmm.

Anyway, this game was THE adventure game. Walk anywhere, do anything, well type anything would be more exact... The educational value of games like this is that if forces you "To Type" and it forces you "To Spell". Sure, using the mouse is easy and faster, but can you type a whole page without looking at the keyboard or the monitor? This game helped me a lot in my learning the English vocabulary...King's Quest and Sesame Street would be my greatest influence...hehe

I also appear to be the only one who actually enjoys those beeping sounds as a poor excuse for music. Yes, honestly it was crappy...but it sure did have a nice tune to it...

The Bad
Hey, it would be nice not to save my game every couple of minutes for the fear of dying...it was fun the few couple of times, but those crocodiles do get irritating when you forget to where your walking to. Sierra has never got over the fact that focusing on game play is a little more important than finding 1001 ways to die.

Were puzzles too hard? Depends, when you were my age...somewhere between 8-10 some puzzles do get a little to hard to understand. I never could figure out what that stupid dwarf's name was, and I find it even more stupid to enter a name longer than the freakin` alphabet.

Well at least I had fun watching that goat wank the troll bridge...

The Bottom Line
Way up there in the Valhalla of legendary classics. If you've never played KQ I before...playing the original may be not quite as exciting. You could play the freeware fan-made VGA version of King's Quest I by Tierra Entertainment. I do believe you can download the game from their website. It's a big download, but it may very well be worth it for nostalgia's sake.

DOS · by Indra was here (20750) · 2003

King's Quest 1: The first of a series that started it all

The Good
As Sir Graham, help King Edward recover the three lost treasures of Daventry - a magic mirror, a treasure chest of gold, and an enchanted shield, while meeting Rumplestiltskin, the Leprechaun Kingdom, Goliath, and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.

This game like Police Quest, used the "text to action" format. That works so well, but also had the point and click of such adventure games like "Monkey Island" and "The Flight of The Amazon Queen" (Both great games/game series check them out).

The Bad
This game was a bit repetitive and had a mediocre point scoring system, but that's understandable for the time this was designed and coded. It was the first adventure game to feature object blocking to allow a moving character on screen to go behind and in front of objects, thus creating Sierra's "3-D Animated Adventure".

The Bottom Line
This game, has great graphics for the time and it has rich sounds. This game will fill you with the same feeling as when you first play Zelda64 Ocarina of Time (I'm reffering to the lush deep graphics and bright forestry atmosphere)

Amiga · by phil buckley (19) · 2006

The original King of Computer Games.

The Good
When I read reviews that give King's Quest a bad impression, it makes me as a grown man want to cry like a little girl with a skinned knee. It also makes me mutter things like "Kids these days wouldn't know a good game if it jumped up and hit them in the face!", even though I'm not yet 30 myself.

I can only assume, for own peace of mind and faith in the human race, that anybody slamming King's Quest is doing so by today's gaming standards, and not the gaming standards of its time. Because in 1984, when Sierra first revolutionized the computer world by releasing this game, King's Quest was the crowned King of Computer Games, and remained so for many years.

From a technical perspective, Ken and Roberta Williams and the Sierra team broke so many new levels with this game, and then again with its next few sequels over the next decade, that it seemed to me as a kid that Sierra would rule the gaming world forever. In a time of text adventures and blocky monochrome arcades, they released a full color multi-dimensional game where you could actually physically MOVE the hero around a detailed fantasy world, in front of, behind, and around objects, and interface with items, terrain, and other characters in an involving storyline and several challenging quests.

Later, when other game companies picked up on the technology, Sierra released sequels that were not only more and more playable, detailed, story-rich and entertaining with each game, but made new technology headlines every time. As KQ1 was the first game to ever make use of a CGA color, PC speaker musical sound and comprehensive text parser interface, KQ4 was the first game to use detailed EGA graphics and support for the new (back then) Adlib/Soundblaster rich audio and music. And when that very quickly became commonplace, KQ5 was released with vivid 256 color VGA graphics and a previously unheard of point-and-click mouse interface instead of the old text parser.

But back to the original. A few of the MobyGames reviews for King's Quest 1 say that the game is noteworthy only for these technology breakthroughs and its historic significance in the gaming industry, but as a game in and of itself, it has almost no merit. This could not be further from the truth.

While the storyline, gameplay and quests of KQ1 may seem pale and pointless by today's standards, imagine yourself as a child in 1984. This game wasn't made for hardcore teen/adult gamers in the 21st century, it was made for kids in the early 80's. And in that light, it was magical. With dragons to slay, magical artifacts to collect, and all manner of mystical creatures from fairies to trolls to leprechauns and everything in between, King's Quest was like an interactive movie or book where YOU get to be the hero. As a kid in 1984, who grew up on films like NeverEnding Story, Legend, and The Dark Crystal, bringing the fantasy world of wizards and warriors, dragons and princesses, magic and intrigue, to the interactive medium of computer gaming - that in itself was more remarkable than the actual technological breakthroughs Sierra made with this game.

The Bad
As several other reviewers have noted, there are aspect of the game that can seem bland and frustrating, not just by today's standards but even back in 1984. I feel it's important to note though, that these for the most part were simply the effects of technological barriers that even Sierra couldn't break through at the time, not design flaws in themselves. The text parser, for example, is frustratingly limited. Things need to be worded a certain way. You might see a brown CGA lump on the ground and want it, but typing "PICK UP ROCK" could very well yield you a "You can't do that - at least not now." error (prevalent throughout the first three KQ games!). But a little patience and a logical mind can always overcome this limitation. "LOOK AT THE GROUND". You'll see it's not a rock after all, it's actually a walnut. Don't try and be verbose - the parser isn't as intelligent as today's gaming AI technology. You can't tell the game "Offer to help the woodcutter with his poverty issues" without getting a "I don't understand 'offer'." error, but "HELP MAN" does the trick.

Also, one or two of the puzzles were a little too complex with too few clues for a child's mind. The only clue, for example, to the gnome's name, is a completely unrelated note found in the witch's house that says "Sometimes it is wise to think backwards". However, simply writing the most likely name for a straw-to-gold spinning gnome back to front is not the answer - at least not until the EGA remake of the game was released.

Overall though, these are tiny flaws in what was and remains to be one of the greatest computer games of our time. Even today, two decades after its original release, I once in a while dust it off and play it again - even though I know the game by heart better than I know my own mother's birthday!

The Bottom Line
"Kids these days" {evilgrin} think they're "old school" if they remember finishing Doom or the original Wolfenstein. In my personal opinion, you're not even a gamer unless you've played King's Quest. In a world where most of today's games involve fragging the crap out of your friends with a multitude of high-tech weapons over a LAN or the internet and watching the blood and brain fragments fly, I'd like to think there are others like me out there who remember when good gaming involved using your mind, not your minigun, and a good game was good because of the storyline and gameplay itself, not just because it uses the latest ultra-fast 3D graphics technology, has heaps of powerful weapons and needs 2Gb of RAM and a $700 video card to play. As much as I hate to say it, but "those were the days"! =)

DOS · by Vaelor (400) · 2004

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

A proto-type, not a classic

The Good
This is the game that started the ball rolling for the graphic adventure genre. It was the first game to include a controllable third person avatar AND text parser for interacting with the game environment. Bright and colorful, the game chronicles the efforts of Sir Graham to reclaim the three treasures of Daventry and take his place as heir to the throne.

The Bad
You really can't say anything bad about this game and get away with it. The game is so old, it can't be held to today's standards by any means. That's just the problem with it, though. Some of this game's contemporaries (Zork for one) are still revered and played today. King's Quest is practically unbearable to play anymore -- the characters move excruciatingly slow, the graphics are comical, and the plot/puzzles are not, in all honesty that deep or interesting. The game consists of a conglomeration of fairy tale characters who present puzzles that are mostly easily solved by common sense and folk-lore knowledge.

The Bottom Line
The best thing that can be said for this game is that it paved the way for a classic series and a revered genre. Appreciate it for what its worth, but leave it on the shelf. If you want to re-capture the magic of 25 years ago, download the amazing fan-made remake at agdinteractive.com

DOS · by jTrippy (58) · 2007

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Scaryfun, vicrabb, Alsy, S Olafsson, McTom, Patrick Bregger, deepcut, Ryan DiGiorgi, Stelios Kanitsakis, Alaka, ti00rki, Jeanne.