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Old 07-10-2010, 02:31 PM   #1
AgtFox
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[PC] The Silver Lining Episode 1 Review

The Silver Lining Episode 1 Review

Title: The Silver Lining Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be Review
Platform: PC
Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios (w/permission of KQ property holder Activision)
ESRB: None (supposedly in ratings development right now)
MSRP: Free, Download here
Editor: Loren 'AgtFox' Halek

Quote:
What's Hot: King’s Quest is finally resurrected with everything but the name; it’s free

What's Not: Episode is way too short; Narrator and Graham break the fourth wall constantly; graphics are dated, but the game has been developed on and off for 10 years
Point and click adventure games have quietly been making a return over recent years after being a dead genre for over a decade. Granted, much of the renaissance is because of remakes of games like Secret of Monkey Island and the recently released Secret of Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge as well as LucasArts combining a lot of their adventure games into a Steam package for cheap. Now, one of the oldest and most loved names in adventure games, King’s Quest, is making a comeback without the title, but with all the characters and locations intact.

The Silver Lining is a fanmade sequel to the King’s Quest adventure games (1-7, excluding Mask of Eternity because it was a 3D action game). Work started in 2000 with a group of KQ fans around the world creating Phoenix Online Studios. The idea was that they would create a game and submit it to Vivendi (the owner of the property back then) for their okay to release it. They had some starts and stops, reorganized in 2002 and started really working on the game. In the 8 years since the game has seen two cease-and-desist orders, one from Vivendi in 2005 and one from Activision in 2008 after the merger. Vivendi did give the developer a Fan license in-between, but they could not use the KQ name. The Activision move took away that license and the two sides talked for months about finding a resolution, but the order stood.


The all of a sudden late last month (June 2010) it was announced that Activision had reversed its decision and would allow the game to be released via free download. Phoenix also announced that the game would be episodic in nature and not a full game at once. The first episode, What is Decreed Must Be was released today (July 10) and I have to say it is a good first step and a positive move forward for a long dead series, but an awfully short one.

All the characters are back: King Graham and Queen Valanice of Daventry, King Alexander and Queen Cassima of the Green Isle as well as Princess Rosella and Prince Edgar who, as the game is opening, are getting married. A mysterious character, probably from the Society of the Black Cloak, appears and attacks both Alexander and Rosella, rendering them unconscious. Graham is of course beside himself and dons the tight red shirt and green feathered hat to search for a way to revive his children. He starts the episode in Alexander’s castle which you should recognize if you’ve played King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. Even outside the castle is the dog-like soldier guarding its gate.

Control in the game is simple. You have 4 actions to choose from: walking, looking, using and talking. A hit of the right mouse button is all that is needed to switch between the actions and a left click on an item will engage that action. There are many places in the castle you cannot do anything with. You can only enter Graham and Valanice’s room and where the wedding was happening to talk to Edgar’s fairy parents. With that the castle is done and you can move into the village area where you will find everything closed up. Eventually you will get to a boat and move on towards your next place on the map of all the Isles. There are really only two places you can go on this map in this episode, I certainly tried to see if I could land anywhere else, but I couldn’t.


The episode ends rather abruptly, although I got the sense that it was going to end. It literally took me under an hour and maybe under 30 minutes to get through this episode even with the long opening CGI (not the best, but it conveys the story) at the beginning and the CGI at the end of the episode. This is probably the most disappointing thing about this release. I was really getting into the game when it stopped, I could easily look beyond the sub-par graphics and see this as a natural progression of the KQ story.

Now I have read interviews with the developers that say that this episode is the shortest and the others are far longer. I also have access to the names of the other episodes (there are 5 of them total), but I’m not sure I can divulge that as of yet or not. You also have to remember that this whole game will be released freely on the game’s site, so I really can’t complain how short this is. If I or you were paying to play this game, we’d all probably be pretty pissed by how short it is. I think the game has a lot of promise and they even hint at future uses for some NPCs and areas.


The graphics are okay and the animations are mostly fluid with some janky sections here and there.. I wasn’t expecting anything earth shattering and it is weird the game allows widescreen resolutions, but only plays in a 4:3 aspect inside of that resolution. Now, I can understand this given the amount of time it has been in development and the fact that the art assets were probably done in 4:3 back in the 2000s before widescreen became as popular as it is today. The sound is also okay, although most of the voiceover talent is bad. Now, Edgar’s dad (who is a fairy mind you) sounds really bad and then you hear the same voice later for another character. Some of the voice acting is badly executed, but some of it is actually good from Graham’s voice actor in particular. The Narrator can be good and bad and both she and Graham break the fourth wall regularly. Luckily the Narrator’s voice can be turned off because sometimes she delivers a line correctly and sometimes she is just a bit too sarcastic or “fake” with it.

The Silver Lining Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be is a short prologue to what I hope will be a longer adventure in the upcoming four episodes. I would also hope that many people will play this and show Activision that maybe they need to start opening up the Sierra vault and start working on adventure games again. Remember, this and the rest of the episodes are free, so at least try it out no matter how short this episode is.

Score: 3 out of 5 CoGs


Loren says, ”A woefully short opening episode for the resurrection of the King’s Quest universe. It’s tough to not tell you to get it since it is free, but I certainly hope the upcoming episodes are far longer than this one is.”

*Note: Shots are from me playing the game in 1920x1080, the text is very small at the bottom although everything is also voiced.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:46 PM   #2
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great review, will download it tonight. whats wrong with breaking the fourth wall? boston legal did it all the time and it was great. i guess if you aren't used to it then its just a matter of opinion. hopefully it didn't lose score because of that.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:48 PM   #3
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My god was anyone in charge of lighting? ANYONE!?

Maybe it was a shortcoming of the game engine or an attempt to look similar to the old KQ? I never played them, but the lighting reminds me of the default omni in 3dsmax.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:49 PM   #4
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Oh man, I had no idea this came out today. That's really the sort of thing I should pay attention to. Downloading.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:55 PM   #5
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At the risk of 'jacking this thread, has anyone heard anything about when the release of the graphics update for Half Life 1 is going to be?
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:35 PM   #6
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At the risk of 'jacking this thread, has anyone heard anything about when the release of the graphics update for Half Life 1 is going to be?
Black Mesa?
No release date. They are going with the ever lovely "when it's done."
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:35 PM   #7
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boo

thanks
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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Oh man, I had no idea this came out today. That's really the sort of thing I should pay attention to. Downloading.
Hehe no doubt, this would have been a good pick for the 51st Free and worth every penny.


I didn't see an actual run time, how long is it exactly?
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Old 07-10-2010, 09:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by CappinCanuck View Post
Hehe no doubt, this would have been a good pick for the 51st Free and worth every penny.

I didn't see an actual run time, how long is it exactly?
I was asked by the developer to review this, so that's the reason it isn't a FWEP article. Plus the embargo ended at 1pm PT time today.

I believe in the review I say it took me under an hour and maybe under a half hour to beat the game.

Yep, here it is:

Quote:
The episode ends rather abruptly, although I got the sense that it was going to end. It literally took me under an hour and maybe under 30 minutes to get through this episode even with the long opening CGI
As for the fourth wall comment earlier. Many Sierra games had a fourth wall breakdown, but it seemed that here it was a little too "cute" in its breakdown of that wall.
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Old 07-11-2010, 06:45 AM   #10
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You know, I remember playing *some* KQ game at some point, but it's been so long that I have almost no memory of the series beyond some general nostalgia for the heyday of adventure games and Jane Jensen. I wonder how the Monkey Island remakes have sold, because I'd love to see a lot of these games from my youth re-released with updated graphics, even if they're not bleeding edge.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:45 PM   #11
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I was asked by the developer to review this, so that's the reason it isn't a FWEP article. Plus the embargo ended at 1pm PT time today.

I believe in the review I say it took me under an hour and maybe under a half hour to beat the game.

Yep, here it is:



As for the fourth wall comment earlier. Many Sierra games had a fourth wall breakdown, but it seemed that here it was a little too "cute" in its breakdown of that wall.
Ah, I see. Thx for stating the runtime again. I read it and skimmed it again and missed it for some reason.

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You know, I remember playing *some* KQ game at some point, but it's been so long that I have almost no memory of the series beyond some general nostalgia for the heyday of adventure games and Jane Jensen. I wonder how the Monkey Island remakes have sold, because I'd love to see a lot of these games from my youth re-released with updated graphics, even if they're not bleeding edge.
Tie fighter plz! My fondest memories of the KQ-era of games were with the Quest for Glory series. I must have spent hours and hours and hours, finding every little secret, on the first title.

Damn that Baba-Yaga straight to the hell she came from!
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