Looking to continue on their success with the first chapter of King’s Quest, developer The Odd Gentlemen brings us another adventure of King Graham in Chapter 2: Rubble without a Cause Releasing about five months after A Knight To Remember, Rubble Without a Cause continues shortly where the first chapter left off. Despite being the newly crowned king of Daventry, it doesn’t take long before Graham feels overwhelmed and burdened by the responsibilities of being a regent. After leaving the castle in order to take a needed breather, Graham finds himself captured by a tribe of goblins. Forced to perform menial tasks for them, he stumbles across other townspeople and works with them in order to plan their escape. Much like chapter 1, the story in Rubble Without a Cause is recounted by an elder Graham to his overeager granddaughter who listens attentively.
King’s Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: 15 December, 2015
Price: £7:99 Season Pass: £31.99
The gameplay varies slightly from the first chapter in that since you are a prisoner of the goblins, you are only allowed out of your cell during the day to perform certain tasks for your captors, and you’re forced back into your cell at night once you are finished with your tasks for the day. Hunger plays a large theme in this chapter, as Graham and the rest of the townspeople are given very little to eat, and so any limited resources Graham stumbles across in his adventure needs to be rationed across everyone through his choices. If Graham gives himself the food, he’s regains his strength which allows him to be able to lift heavier objects and gain access to new areas in the goblins underground kingdom. However, doing so may also endanger the lives of some of the townspeople who are sick, pregnant, or dying from hunger. Needless to say this chapter presents some difficult choices to the player and the type of king they want Graham to be.
Aside from the difficult moral choices Graham is forced to make in this chapter, most of the gameplay elements from the first chapter returns. The majority of the time is spent roaming around talking to other people, and finding key items in order to solve puzzles which lends to the escape of Graham and his townspeople. He’ll find ingredients that can be used to create poisonous cookies, or items used to make a potion that makes plants grow quickly. Occasionally Graham will also stumble across gold coins which could be exchanged for some much needed food or medicine.
Despite some of the dark tones, there is still the same level of humour and personality from the previous chapter present in Rubble Without a Cause. The goblins are interesting captors due to their fanatic obsession with fairy tales and recreating those stories. Meanwhile the returning characters from the first chapter retain their charm and personality even when they are delirious from hunger at times. The same cel-shaded visuals from the first chapter return as well, so the presentation remains largely the same from the first chapter, even if it does feel a bit claustrophobic due to the setting.
Rubble Without a Cause isn’t without its faults however, the main one being that the chapter is rather short. At about one to two hours to complete, it’s significantly shorter than the first chapter. Furthermore, the chapter is set entirely in the same location, so you’ll be revisiting the same areas repeatedly each day. There’s a lot more backtracking and running around in circles in this chapter compared to A Knight To Remember, which is a bit disappointing. Similar to the first chapter, it can be easy to be lost or not know what to do, as the game does very little to prompt the player or give hints as to what they should actually be doing which can lead to some frustrating moments at times. The chapter does offer some replayablity though, as players can reload chapters and try different tactics in order to find out the best way to save as many companions as possible.
Much of the things that made the first chapter of King’s Quest great returns in Rubble Without a Cause. The excellent writing, humour, presentation, and voice acting are present in this chapter, and the new gameplay twist provides players with a sense of tension in nearly every decision they make. However, the relatively short length makes this chapter seem more like an afterthought rather than a complete episode. Players invested in playing through all five chapters of the new King’s Quest reboot may be interested in playing through this chapter multiple times in order to see the outcomes of these events in future episodes. However those who may not be as invested may feel a bit short changed with the amount of content provided here. While not as good as the first chapter, Rubble Without a Cause is still entertaining, and moves the overall narrative of the game in an interesting direction.