Review: The Silver Lining, Episodes 1 & 2 (PC)

The Silver Lining (PC)
Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Activision
Genre: RPG
Release Date: 07/10/2010

Despite a plague of legal battles it seems that Phoenix Online Studios has managed to web release the continuing adventures of the royal family of Daventry. For those who remember the original King’s Quest series produced by Sierra Online and disappointed by King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity’s total departure from the feel of the rest of the series, this will have been long awaited.

Story:

The story opens in the Green Isles at the wedding of Princess Rosella and Prince Edgar with her family watching on. During the proceedings a mysterious cloaked figure casts a spell on her brother, King Alexander, who stumbles to his chamber and collapses. The villain then appears right before the Princess and her Prince can kiss and casts a curse that causes her to lose consciousness. The canine guard presiding over the wedding strikes down the spell caster, who disappears in a puff of green smoke. Unfortunately, King Alexander and Princess Rosella remain unconscious and still under the power of unknown magic. King Graham decides to don his adventuring clothes and figure out a way to cure his children, which will take him across the Isles.

Graphics

The fact that this is a fan based game comes through here, as the level of graphics is something that would have been great about ten years ago. The textures and the blocky pixilation of the characters might be a bit off-putting for those who have been spoiled by realism that borders into the uncanny valley.

Sound:

The music score is definitely appropriate and sets a melancholy mood as King Graham travels through the Green Isles. The voice acting is well done, and the narrator’s saucy reprimands when you attempt to touch things you shouldn’t bring the humor of the original Sierra games to mind.

Gameplay:

If you’re looking for a nostalgic interface this game definitely has it. The typical eye, hand, speech, and walking icons help you navigate your way throughout the Green Isles. The camera automatically rearranges itself according to the angle needed to continue on your path, but it is not always readily apparent when something continues past the current screen when walking to the left of right. There seem to be a few bugs causing the game to lock up when you are attempting to restore from a saved file.

The storyline is separated into chapters that Phoenix Online is releasing every couple of months. There is a lack of puzzles in the first chapter which, for a game purporting to be a continuation of the King’s Quest, is slightly…well, puzzling. Tasks are fairly linear with no deviation available, beyond obtaining less information which does not seem to affect the story. Largely the complaint would be that progressing seems a bit too easy in the first chapter. Thankfully this is largely remedied in the second chapter of the game as the puzzles become more involved and there is a significant amount of dialogue options available with the characters in the game.

Replayability:

Even with no final episode available yet to see if multiple endings are available it doesn’t seem as if there would possibly be a reason to want to replay through the game. Once you solve a puzzle it doesn’t change and while the dialogue is fairly interesting, it isn’t something that you would want to sit through again and again.

Balance:

This game is a good option for the casual player who doesn’t want to have to make quick decisions and wants a game they can play at their own pace. If you’re looking to be challenged you should skip to the second chapter, though you will miss out on a lot of backstory.

Originality:

Considering this is a continuation of a well worn series, the concept is not highly original. This wouldn’t be the first time one of the royal family has been in peril and had to be rescued. Most people don’t pick up a King’s Quest game to be wowed by originality, so it’s not a huge minus.

Addictiveness :

The lead-in for the next chapter definitely will make you angry you have to wait for the next one to be released. There is not a huge time requirement to complete each episode so it plays like a potato chip, you finish playing through one episode and you don’t feel entirely satisfied and want the next. For your sanity you may want to wait for all five chapters to be available so that you can play through the whole game.

Appeal Factor:

A lot of love and effort obviously went into this project and you can feel it from the details, such as in-jokes about other Sierra games, references to earlier games in the King’s Quest series and the immense amount of dialogue. Unless you’re already immersed into the mythology and lore of the series, this may be an awkward point to jump into the game, but it also might make a new player want to hunt down some of the older games.

Miscellaneous:

I would really have enjoyed this more if the graphics had been more advanced, and if there was a bit more deviation in choices your character can make. The storyline and voice acting is done in an appealing enough manner that I now will be growling with impatience for the next episode to release.

The Scores:
Story: Decent
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Very Good
Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Poor
Balance: Decent
Originality: Decent
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Decent
Final Score: Decent Game

Short Attention Span Summary

If you like King’s Quest games then it will be worth your time to download and play through. The game plays through smoothly, and the voice acting adds dimension to the characters. It also doesn’t require the most advanced PC requirements and you can probably play it on an older machine.

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