King’s Quest III: To Heir Is Human

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1990
Platform: DOS; Amiga

Sierra spent a little more time creating the third installment in the Daventry series and it shows. The increase in difficulty is quite welcome as well as a larger map and complex characters. To top it off, there is a plot. A plot that develops.

You are Gwydion, a slave of the evil wizard Mannanan. He orders you around the house completing chores, and if you do not comply, he may zap you into a pile of ashes. Even if you do comply, he will eventually dispose of you anyway. Mannanan cannot risk you becoming a fine adventurer, capable of thwarting his carefree lifestyle. While finding ways to get Gwydion killed is quite entertaining, only by thwarting your master’s lifestyle can you advance the plot.

King's Quest III: To Heir is Human Amiga Manannan's bedroom.

The game’s parser is considerably more extensive than in the previous two installments, and the graphics are a step up as well, giving the atmosphere a little more…atmosphere. Useful items are finally not heavily accentuated, and some of the more colorful surroundings cannot be manipulated at all. The pointless random enemies have finally been banished from Sierra’s playbook. Better yet, the soundboard is used more appropriately, and while not a joy to listen to, is no longer grating.

Some mythology is used, but not as heavily as in the first two games. Hence, the puzzles are not as simple. Moreover, magic is used quite extensively, giving the player a feel that this really is a mystical land, quite unlike our Earth.

Not to let us down, however, Gwydion’s quest does contain some flaws. There is one walking dead situation (and I’m not referring to the stupidly twisty path down the mountain). Two-thirds of the way through the game one may have to restart if a particular task had not been completed at the early stages. Frustrating! The game also contains the ever so infamous Sierra copyright protection puzzles, only possible to complete if one has not lost the manual and can also read archaic handwriting. And finally, once Mannanan has been thwarted, the plot develops way too quickly, more or less dumping the rest of the story on the player.

King's Quest III: To Heir is Human Amiga At the bottom of the mountain path.

Overall, To Heir is Human is an improvement over the two previous games, and quite a joy to play when one is not tackling the aforementioned frustrating elements. However, it is quite difficult, so the more lackadaisical adventurer may want to carry a walkthrough.

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