Chapter 2 of King’s Quest was something of a disappointment after the unexpected and challenging gameplay of Chapter 1. Even so, I feel a strong attachment to King Graham and his story, so I went into Once Upon a Climb hopeful that The Odd Gentlemen used the five months since the last outing to get back into form.
It seems that hope was well placed, as this chapter has perhaps the most interesting characters and the best dialogue of the series so far, as well as a return to more colourful locations. The mix of inventory and environmental puzzles is top notch as well, albeit perhaps a little more straightforward than it has been in other episodes.
This chapter centres around a muscular, more mature Graham and his search for a wife. He soon finds himself trapped in a magical tower with two very different potential partners: Vee and Neese. One is kind and adventurous, the other intellectual and enigmatic. It is the addition of these women and their surprisingly interesting captor that drives the momentum of this episode.
Exploration is more limited, with fewer, more focused areas creating the opportunity for more interesting dialogue and character development. The puzzles perhaps a little easier this time around, with considerably less of the sort of inferred peril seen in Chapter 2. When all is said and done, Chapter 3 is the easiest so far, but perhaps the most enjoyable thanks to the lovely ladies at the heart of its story.
For anyone who has stuck with Graham through the first two episodes, Once Upon a Climb will feel like a genuine reward. It’s a great chapter built more in the mould of a Telltale game than the previous two episodes, but considering the subject matter, it’s a welcome change of pace that works exactly as it needs to.
To find reviews of other episodes (as they become available), check out the King’s Quest review hub.
King’s Quest: Once Upon a Climb was developed on Xbox One and Xbox 360 by The Odd Gentlemen and published by Sierra. It was released April 26, 2016 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Sierra for review purposes.