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Written by  :  Dbchannel (115)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2015
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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The King & I

The Good

Gamers may have to be of a certain age in order to fully appreciate the technical wonder that is King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Younder!.

Early adventure games -- Sierra has a major player in the genre -- were initially text-only quests. Much like the days of classic radio dramas, these early computer games required the player to use his imagination (and typing skills) in order to advance in a world that only existed through on-screen text.

Gradually, adventure games began to feature CGA and EGA-style graphics to create the characters, items, puzzles and locations that the player had to interact with.

It would be wrong to dismiss CGA/EGA graphics outright as hopefully archaic.

However, it was not really into the jump to VGA graphics that computer games -- especially adventure games -- could really create a environment that look more like an epic cartoon or painting, as opposed to something that (for lack of a better word) "looked" like a computer game.

King's Quest V was the first game in the series to make the jump to the superior VGA graphics. The result is a an epic adventure game set in a lush and beautiful game environment.

VGA graphics may not impress younger generations of gamers, but (in 1990) it was simply incredible to play an adventure game with VGA graphics and marvel at the game's artwork and character design.

King's Quest V also shinned in the audio department, and (while other gamers may disagree) I enjoyed the transition into more point and click, icon-based game play mechanics.

Sierra did not skimp on the storyline in King's Quest V. King Graham is about to return to his castle (after talking a lovely walk), only to see his castle (and all his family members) whisked away by an evil wizard.

As is the case with the previous King's Quest entries, the game manages to put a creative spin on familiar fantasy elements, and quests often require you to help out other creatures (large and small).

Story elements from previous King's Quest games are smoothly brought into the part V and (interestingly enough) certain events in part 5 are further developed in King's Quest VI.

Overall, it is hard to find too many odious faults with King's Quest V. Hard, but not impossible.

The Bad

The groundbreaking nature of King's Quest V's graphics and music can easily be lost on younger gamers.

In the 1990s, VGA was superceded by SVGA. Computer disks were superceded by CD-ROM technology.

As popular as King's Quest V was in 1990, it didn't have as much of a long-lasting impact on the adventure gaming genre as did say, Alone in the Dark (1992).

Alone in the Dark (1992) was released a few years after King's Quest V, and it represented a significant shift in the look and design of adventure games.

Where as King's Quest V represented the advances in classic adventure gaming, games like Alone in the Dark (1992), "Tomb Raider" (1996) and "Resident Evil" (1996) represented a successful mutation or spinoff within the adventuring gaming genre.

Younger gamers are probably more familiar with the spinoff and its tropes. These spinoff adventure game environments were "3D" with pre-rendered (if not polygon) graphics. Success required action-packed blistered thumbs (often within the real of survival horror) as well as solving item-based puzzles.

I am not suggesting that the "new" style of adventuring gaming is better or worse then the more traditional style.

Rather, the fact that King's Quest V is a great classic adventure game, may make it harder for some gamers to appreciate the game fully.

Younger games have some different expectations about what makes a great adventure game, in comparison to people that played King's Quest V (when it was first released) while in middle or high school.

The Bottom Line

King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Younder! is a great, classic adventure game, as well as a great entry in the King's Quest gaming franchise. Gamers of every generation who can appreciate the classics, should be able to love this game.