The episodic release of King’s Quest is taking its sweet time. The first chapter (see our review) was released at the tail end of July, 2015. The second episode (see our review) followed in mid-December of last year. The third finally made its way to us on April 26 of this year. It is tough to say that it’s been worth the wait, but it is still truly enjoyable.
You would, of course, be forgiven for not realizing that King’s Quest: Chapter 3 – Once Upon a Climb is now available, after all, as of this writing the Sierra website still lists it as “coming soon.” Having played it, however, I can promise that it is not coming soon, it is completely and totally available now.
So, that’s good news. Also good is that I can report that this third episode is much more in the mold of the first chapter than the second. That is to say, while your choices have consequences here in Once Upon a Climb, you get to understand what those consequences are ahead of time and choose to pursue things as you see fit. Additionally, there is no sense that the game is pleading with you to play the chapter over and over and over again until you get it “right.”
There being no right answer and giving you the choice about how to proceed makes a ton of sense when you consider the fact that the story is all about Graham courting his future wife. Rather than offering a single princess with whom Graham might fall in love (and vice versa), the game gives two choices and allows you the decision of with whom they would rather see Graham spend his days.
As the vaguely romantic bits are playing out, Graham also has to do his best to escape from a Rapunzel-like trap in which he and the princesses find themselves (and without the necessary golden hair to boot). It is witty and fun, and a great return to form after the letdown of the second episode.
Where it does feel similar to that episode and not the first is in its length. That is, Once Upon a Climb is another brief entry in the life of Graham. The puzzles are not exceptionally deep and their number is not terribly high.
What really makes the game work then is not its length, nor its depth, but its general attitude. Graham is a lighthearted character, always ready with a witticism, and those with whom he interacts are the same. Once Upon a Climb turns the traditional fairy-tale on its head and causes you to chuckle as they you the title.
Seeing it all unfold, figuring out what the game is asking of you and why, and just getting to toss back on that adventuring cape is reason enough to play.
Even so, with the long breaks between chapters and this new chapter flying well under the radar at release it is impossible to shake the feeling that we have all embarked upon an adventure that will never see the fifth, and final, episode. Certainly at this pace it will be 2017 at best before it arrives.
But, whenever new chapters may arrive, I look forward to seeing what they have to offer.
King’s Quest: Chapter 3 – Once Upon a Climb is rated E10+ (Everyone 10+) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows PC.