King’s Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella Retold

Publisher: Freeware
Developer: DrSlash
Year: 2021
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac

Rating: 8

Fan-made remakes of games tend to focus on aesthetic improvements such as updated graphics and sound. DrSlash decided that King’s Quest IV was gorgeous just the way it was (and they would be correct) and left all that alone. Instead this version tries to modernize the game play to appeal to younger gamers. The experiment is mostly successful.

The major overhaul here is the parser interface, which has been replaced by the classic 4-icon point and click system. While this does successfully remove the frustration of not knowing what to type, it unfortunately makes some of the puzzles a bit too simple. Progressing through the dwarves’ home can now be done completely be accident, and so it goes with the frog in the pond. And the puzzle with the three witches has been made more difficult just by nature of the icon system. On the flip side, some puzzles have been made significantly less frustrating, such as the whale’s tongue. Also, the cursor can be used to find hot spots, reducing the amount of pixel-hunting required.

The most important change is that you have the option of removing the silly time limit (which the game says is 24 hours but in reality is a quarter of that) as well as every walking dead situation. No longer can you miss the bridle. No longer can you run out of arrows. No longer can you find the whale before you find the feather. And these are just some of the cruel unwinnable states that have been blissfully fixed. The game does allow you to reach the really bad ending, which one should know is coming anyway.

Bizarrely, the cheap falling deaths were kept, which would seem to be reason for newer gamers to shut it down immediately. While this version creates autosaves prior to dangerous situations, it’s still incredibly obnoxious to fall down the same stairs seven times in a row. This rears its ugly head in the endgame, where dying results in a two-minute bad ending that can’t be interrupted. That’s fourteen minutes of my life I won’t get back.

I hadn’t played the original in about twenty years and going through the game this way was a fun nostalgia trip. I remembered most of the puzzles and breezed through in about three hours. It’s still easily my favorite of all the original King’s Quest games.

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