Fans of Kings Quest rejoice. The Silver Lining, a game which has been in and out of development hell since 2002, has finally been released… or at least the first episode has. The Silver Lining has been produced by a group of Kings Quest fans, Phoenix Online Studios and is available as a free download on The Silver Lining website.
The Silver Lining puts you back into the adventuring shoes of King Graham and sees you faced with yet more hardship as your children are struck down by a mysterious black-cloaked figure. After donning civilian clothes it’s your job to track down this foe, and find a way to save the children and the Kingdom.
The opening sequence is beautifully rendered, but when the game starts a-proper, the graphics are a little disappointing. King Graham walks like Peter Crouch trying to do his robot dance with a pencil stuck up his bum and will, on several occasions, seem to catch on the outermost pixel of anything he goes near. This, combined with having no clue of what to do at the beginning of the game, made for a less than fun opening twenty minutes or so while I fathomed it all out.
Once I’d done that, though I found myself enjoying the game. Getting to grips with the old-school point and click controls was a bit hit and miss, as swapping between cursor functions (walk, look, take and talk) seemed to carry over if you swapped mid-click, meaning that the dialogue from the game’s narrator would jump around all over the place. But once I had it all down the game started to come alive. The narration, at times, is quite funny – try talking to an inanimate object, or taking the floor and you’re treated like some kind of crazy person. You’ll also find times where you’re caught up in self-referential humour as the narrator and King Graham engage in a little bit of banter.
The puzzles you’ll encounter in this episode are not that many. The greatest is trying to work out what you’re doing at first – once you’ve fathomed out how you can get out of the castle (find your civilian clothes or you’ll never be able to leave) you’re presented with a couple of other puzzles which require an item to solve. If you’ve explored enough on your way out of the castle you’ll already have exactly what you need which is a little disappointing, but also, in a strange way, satisfying, as the story really begins to carry you along by this point.
The game is driven by a strong narrative, and unfortunately, just as you’re really starting to get into the episode, you find yourself in a long cutscene which signifies the end of the game. I think, from start to finish, I was probably playing for about an hour and a bit in the episode and was a bit miffed when the end of the episode threw itself at me. Having said that, now all the set-up and preamble’s out of the way I hope that Episode 2 ramps up the action, the puzzles and the story to the next level.