Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
The first chapter in Sierra’s resurrection of the King’s Quest games was a welcome return to the classic puzzle solving that used to make up the adventure games of the 1980s and 1990s. A Knight to Remember followed Graham on his quest to become a knight in the kingdom of Daventry. Now with Chapter 2, Rubble without A Cause, Graham is king, but thanks to some goblins he finds himself with some very difficult decisions to make.
It’s The Prequel To The Sequel
The first thing that Rubble Without A Cause shows us is that the new King’s Quest games are not reboots of the originals, but rather additions to the cannon of the original games. The classic King’s Quest followed Graham as he went on a journey that eventually led to him becoming king. While the first chapter was set prior to those events, Chapter 2 is set afterward.
Once again the story is told as a tale from the aged King Graham to his young grandchildren. Graham has already become king, but is having some trouble navigating all the required duties. He wanders off from the castle on his own and is set upon by goblins. He recovers and finds himself, along with most of the townsfolk from the first chapter, imprisoned by the tiny, gibberish-speaking beasts. What follows is one of the most unique adventure games I’ve ever played.
The bulk of Rubble Without A Cause isn’t just a traditional adventure game puzzle, it’s also a complicated logic problem. Graham has to manage the health of four other captives in addition to himself, all while figuring out what he needs to do to get everybody out. Food is limited, which means some people may have to go without, at least for awhile. But, if somebody’s health drops too low, they will die. Escape with everybody is not required so there's no instant "Game Over" if someone dies. If you lose somebody, you simply continue without them.
It all adds up to a complicated equation which, when combined with the fact that the steps to escape are not clear, means it’s unlikely everybody will survive, at least on your first play through. This can also be frustrating however, as experimentation can have disastrous consequences that you may not intend.
A Quest Fit For A King
One of the things that’s the most surprising about these games is how technically solid they are. In comparison to the episodic releases from Telltale, which occasionally fall victim to both audio and video bugs, King’s Quest has been nearly perfect. While the episode spends most its time in a dark, gloomy cave, there are still unique environments that allow the game’s art style to shine.
For the most part Rubble Without a Cause is a truly episodic experience. While there are a few faint plot threads from the first episode that weave through this game, and will continue on to be sure, they mostly progress on their own, without the player’s direct involvement. The bulk of the game is very much a stand-alone adventure, and it’s a fun one to be had.