King's Quest III Redux: To Heir Is Human

There's a ton of enjoyment to be had in this Sierra classic adventure, despite having to cope with a few drawbacks.

By azn_pride, Posted 28 Feb 2011

Out of all the genres present in video games, point-and-click adventure is the one I've never experienced beforehand. So it makes sense then, that I'm the perfect candidate to put King's Quest III Redux: To Heir is Human through its deliberate paces. I'll admit, I had little to no expectations as to what this game might be, but as I started and endured past multiple frustrating restarts, I found myself jumping back in for more. As I finally started to progress through the game's tough and unrelenting nature, most of it started to sink in. Eventually, I was enjoying my time with it.

Sure, it's a difficult and time-consuming game to manage, but given that that's how it was back then, one can assume this remake is designed to meet the standards the original had set almost two decades ago. Though newcomers will have a very trying, confusing experience with it, fans will find it nostalgic playing through an enhanced remake of this classic adventure game while staying true to the original.

King's Quest III, Redux, To Heir Is Human, Review
You know you're dead.

Those who've played the original game will immediately notice King's Quest III Redux's graphic overhaul. The environments are evidently more detailed with some nice color palettes and great rendering in every object and character designs you come across. Aside from the visual change, fans should be happy to know many elements from the original are intact, notably the story. Set in the dark land of Llewdor, King's Quest III stars Gwydion, who has been a servant of the evil wizard Manannan for as long as he can remember. The main objective of the game is to basically escape Manannan's grip and solve the mystery of Gwydion's past. In your journey you'll visit lush, green forest locations, dry, barren desert wastelands, and travel with pirates to seek buried treasure. It's worth pointing out that I think Manannan truly exemplifies the true classic villain: cold and diabolical. Every time he abruptly appears and you hear his appropriately menacing theme, your heart skips a beat. This constantly creates a wave of tension and paranoia over you, letting you know that he is not someone to be messed with. With all the villains I've met in video games so far, Manannan is absolutely one of the most terrifying figures I've ever encountered.

A noteworthy improvement over its predecessor is the elimination of keyboard typing-based commands in favor of a more streamlined, point-and-click version. This earns players more freedom to explore the land of Llewdor and solve the game's puzzles in some fairly interesting ways. KQ3 Redux's menu interface consists of a pair of boots icon to walk, an eye that will have the narrator describe the location clicked, a hand to interact with Gwydion's environment, a mouth icon to talk to people, an inventory menu to store various materials, and an option icon which enables you to save, restore progress, restart game, quit, and more.

King's Quest III, Redux, To Heir Is Human, Review
Pirates, argh! Treasure, argh!

While Gwydion's environments are obviously clearer to the naked eye, so are the dangers that lie ahead. Gwydion can still fall off ledges and get eaten by giant spiders if the player is not careful. The insufficiency of clues/hints to help you solve puzzles is also clear, as the game refuses to hold your hand and let you figure out things for yourself. A timer has been added that specifies Mannanan's status in four different colors. The normal, flesh-y color signifies that Manannan is around the house, in which he can assign chores or have you prepare food for him. Green indicates Gwydion is safe (Manannan is asleep or taking a journey) and can therefore explore the entirety of Llewdor. However, yellow is a warning that Manannan is on his way back, and red means the wizard is close to returning home. Gwydion's only safe haven is within his room, in which he can hide/retrieve items or sleep to fast forward time. Any items collected along the way that are highlighted in blue are potential ingredients for magic spells (more on that later). Should any of these objects remain in Gwydion's inventory when Manannan is around, it qualifies as an automatic death. With these cautionary anecdotes in mind saving is highly recommended, as you will face many situations that require plenty of trial-and-error to successfully traverse.

As in the original 1986 version, some of the things you do in King's Quest III must be explicit to the situation at hand in order to produce the right results. Some minor ones include you closing previously opened drawers and closets to reduce suspicion or having you click on a specific area to actually trigger a response. This extreme specificity, however, heavily occupies the spellcasting/ingredient mixing parts of the game. As soon as you unlock the secret door to Manannan's chamber, you can begin combining ingredients you've collected outside of the castle and conjure spells that will help you on your quest. Manannan's spell book contains specific instructions on which ingredients should be added on a particular enchantment. You won't know right away what ingredients you might need, so exploring the land of Llewdor is seriously encouraged. As mentioned earlier, any object with a blue highlight surrounding them is a potential magic ingredient that could be keys to completing various magic formulas.

King's Quest III, Redux, To Heir Is Human, Review

Nevertheless, the steps to mixing the correct recipes have to be meticulously precise that the moment you mess up, you have to start over from your last save. For example, for the Enhancing Talent Spell, the first instruction is to "Add one hint of hot, dry sand into an empty glass flask filled with sea water." Adding the sand first is an automatic failure, as adding the sea water is actually the true first step. Also, when you back out of the inventory menu to read the instructions now and again, you have to click on the flask first then click the next ingredient on the list. Otherwise, the spell fails again. It's a process I found completely exhausting the first time through, though after I've completed the easier magic spells and moved on to the more advanced ones, you definitely start to get the hang of it.

It's also worth mentioning some significant changes present throughout parts of KQ3 Redux. For instance, the lever from the original KQ3 game has been modified into a series of levers in which the player has to discover the right combination to unlock. Also, the Medusa no longer wanders the west desert randomly, but she has her own lair you can enter. Instead of using a hand mirror to turn her into stone, you can opt to talk to her while she asks you a series of questions. Depending on the choice you take, one of them will give you more points for completing. I imagine a fan's typical reaction would be: "Wait…this wasn't here before! This is an outrage!" However, I believe it presents a new twist of a challenge for both newcomers and fans alike.

King's Quest III, Redux, To Heir Is Human, Review
Well, this is new.

The best parts about this game though, are the constant sprays of humor the game throws at you. Or at least, the comments that come out of the narrator himself. The narrator can be occasionally annoying, though I mostly enjoyed his dry, overly sarcastic, and very self-aware commentary every time you click on objects or your surroundings. These can range from him commenting on the method you were killed to even breaking the fourth wall. You can go to the options menu and change the audio settings to drone him out, but I feel that you're missing out on the fun of listening to him talk sarcastically and get a chuckle or two out of it.

King's Quest III, Redux, To Heir Is Human, Review
I love the narrator's sense of humor.

But the humor doesn't actually dwell exclusively through the narrator. There are other parts of King's Quest III that are also worth a laugh; one such example is the inclusion of The Three Bears story in the game. Also, weirdly enough, the events when Manannan punishes you are also quite amusing. Some examples include Manannan turning you into a snail or forcing your body to exercise while you listen to the YMCA theme song (wish I was joking, but I'm not). The rest of the jaunty, occasionally dreary music and excellent voice acting tie it all together to make this enhanced remake an endearing experience from start to finish.

Believe me when I say that there's a lot of satisfaction to be had in King's Quest III Redux. What newcomers will find is a very challenging point-and-click adventure that takes a significant amount of patience to accomplish every step, while fans of the series will appreciate this revamped title that stays true to the original source material. Sure, its difficulty and scarcity for obvious clues should rattle the nerves a bit, but King's Quest III Redux's decidedly dark, sarcastic humor, improved graphics, and brilliant voice acting outweigh those shortcomings. And the best thing about all this? It's free.

David Gabriel, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Sierra Entertainment
Developer(s): AGD Interactive/Sierra Entertainment
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2011-02-24

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