King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella is a graphic adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Sierra On-Line, and first released in September 1988 for MS-DOS, but later ported to several other platforms. It is the fourth title in the King's Quest series, and, like many Sierra games, a pioneer in the video game industry. In this case, KQ4 was one of the first PC games to use high-fidelity audio and to use the new engine, the Sierra Creative Interpreter.
This was the first game I ever played in the King's Quest series, probably in 1989. My cousin had it on his Tandy 1000, along with Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge and Police Quest 2: The Vengeance. I was very impressed by the game because it was far more graphically advanced than any game I had seen before. Since we were both young, we didn't get very far initially, and we were playing off disk, so it took forever to load each room. We slowly made progress in the game over the course of several months, but couldn't get past the whale. One weekend later, I went to visit my cousin, and discovered that he had beaten the game with the help of a friend who had beaten it before. I received several hints from them, and saw the ending, but it wasn't until years later, after I had forgotten a lot of the game, that I successfully beat the game myself from start to finish.
I own a digital release of the game through Steam. I have beaten it with a full score.
- Overall: 6/10
- Best Version: DOS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The graphics, for an EGA game, are amazing. The artwork is good, there is a lot of animation, indoor rooms have a "carved out" view port, and outside rooms have nice fore-ground objects, and the display makes a good use of blending to create the illusion of more than 16 colors.
- William Goldstein's soundtrack is professionally scored with leitmotifs, themes, and even an overture.
- Most of the puzzles are fairly intuitive.
- I think this is one of the first adventure games that uses a fully re-drawn character set for close-up screens.
- I like how most of the characters can be found in more than one area. It makes them feel more like they move about in the world.
- Having Rosella sink deeper into the water before swimming is a nice graphical addition.
- Having a real-time day and night transition was a creative idea, and redrawing the backgrounds for night time was very impressive.
- Some of the puns for when you die, and the epitaphs on the tombstones, are really funny.
- The reflection of Rosella in the mirror in the mansion was impressive.
- I don't like the maneuvering puzzles (stairs, mountains, etc.). Is Rosella so inept that she'll blindly walk off a cliff face? If there were only a single one in the game, it would be acceptable, but there are several.
- The real-time day and night transition isn't implemented very well. I've never known anyone to actually play for the several real-life hours it takes to make it to night time, without first solving the puzzles. This is inadvertently a good thing because reaching the night without solving the puzzles can also make the game unwinnable.
- To alleviate a specific unwinnable scenario, the designers made it so the penniless fisherman won't accept the gold ball, which is ridiculous.
- I don't like how the map wraps around on itself. Although it makes it easier to explore the map, it implies that Tamir is torus shaped, and also that the entire planet is only inhabited by about five people!
- The random appearance of the shark and whale is kind of annoying.
- All four of the ghost puzzles are all solved in the same way, which is kind of dull.
- Several aspects of the game are repeated from earlier King's Quest games. Giving a gift to the poor couple in a shack and getting a gift from them was used in KQ1, the design of the Haunted House dining room and kitchen is the same as KQ3, etc.
- The mummy should have had an actual puzzle behind it instead of functioning like another zombie. Getting to it requires that you already have the necessary item to defeat it, so you're guaranteed to never be killed by it.
- There are several ways to put the game into a long-term unwinnable state which I hate in adventure games.
- Finding the bridle is really obnoxious, and it's very likely that you will put the game in an unwinnable state because of it and have no reason to believe you did.
Making the game unwinnable in less than a minute.
Two non-playable demos of King's Quest IV were made by Sierra, an AGI and SCI version. The demos were given away to computer stores to showcase the game. This package includes archives of both demos as well as Windows installers.