King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!

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Status

Review

Good

  • The background graphics are phenomenal for the time, and still impressive decades later.
  • Many actions that other games would simply describe are fully animated, and animated well.
  • The graphic icon menu and cursor system, though it simplifies the game, is well-designed. The icons and cursors are intuitive and well-drawn.
  • The music is very well-suited for the game.
  • The updated features of the SCI-1 engine, 256 colors, more audio devices, graphic cursors, etc. are fantastic.
  • The CD-ROM version of the game has full speech. Although most of the secondary characters are poorly voiced, the Narrator and King Graham are both pretty good. Also, the mouth animation has been synced to the voice-acting fairly well.

Bad

  • To help with immersion, I think adventure games should be designed in such a way that a very careful and observant player should be able to beat the game without dying. However, a large percentage of the puzzles in KQ5 require you to first die in order to have information available to solve a later puzzle.
  • There aren't any alternate ways to solve puzzles, and only a handful of optional puzzles, making the point system kind of... well... pointless.
  • The mouse cursor flickers so much it's distracting.
  • A couple of the puzzles are a bit abstract, while others are incredibly obvious.
  • The sprite graphics are poorly colored. This is probably due to the game designers setting aside a small palette for sprites.
  • I don't care for the slapstick comedy in the game or the stupid magic words used by Crispin in the ending.
  • Though he's supposed to be a hero, Graham never fails to take advantage of someone else's misfortune. Oh, this golden needle is yours? Give me the cloak! Your spinning wheel? I'll take your child's favorite toy as payment!
  • The revolving perspective of the labyrinth under Mordack's castle seems to have been designed just to be hard to map, which is rather annoying.
  • Mordack's castle in general is both dull and frustrating. Several of the rooms are essentially empty except for some random encounters with Mordack, Manannan in cat form, and the blue beast. Each involves watching a long death animation and restarting, and only one of which can be stopped permanently.
  • The CD-ROM version occasionally crashes with an "Out of handles!" error message.

Ugly

  • There are far too many ways to put the game into an unwinnable state.
  • Some of the puzzles have completely ridiculous moon-logic solutions.

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