King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow

1992 Sierra On-Line
Designed by Jane Jensen, Roberta Williams
Reviewed 1996 April 15

Rating +2 Linearity narrow
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity high
Difficulty challenging Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

You play Alexander, Prince of Daventry. You have gone on a long journey to search for the land of the beautiful princess Cassima you met in King's Quest V. You become ship-wrecked in her land, but find that her parents are dead and that the vizier has taken control of the kingdom. More worrisome still, he plans to marry Cassima.

Unlike the previous King's Quests, this one has a strong, developing story. Moreover, it manages this without becoming linear. It's far from an open game, but it doesn't make you feel like the plot is dragging you by the nose through the game. It strikes a good balance between game play and story.

The game challenges are very well integrated into the story. The objects you deal with are natural in their environment, and are used in reasonable ways. Many have multiple uses. The result is a good sense of immersion into the game's world.

Towards the end, the story (and gameplay) forks into two branches: a good ending and a shorter, merely adequate, ending. Some objects get used in different ways depending on the ending, and others won't appear at all. Both endings are worth playing, since even the shorter one presents challenges not in the good ending. (If you first complete the good ending, the game tells you where the alternate ending forks off.)

It doesn't seem likely that anyone would complete this game without dying several times first. Unfortunately, there are a few instances where death is the only way, other than luck, to discover what is required to overcome the particular challenge. There are also several real-time situations that can be difficult the first time you face them. None are difficult once you know what to do, and how to tell the game to do it, but there's not enough time to experiment and fail.

While none of the challenges are exceptionally difficult, the game is large and you have many challenges to face and many objects and characters to deal with. You're not likely to romp through the game, but you're also not likely to be stuck anywhere for very long.

King's Quest VI is a handsome game. The graphics and sound are very well done, but not flamboyant. As with the game play design, there is a good balance struck between making a pretty, immersive game and making a playable game. While not flawless, it is an entertaining, enjoyable game.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Solution by me.

Related reviews:

  • The King's Quest Series
    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.