The Verdict: The Silver Lining – Episode 1: What Is Decreed


Posted July 10, 2010 - By David Wolinsky

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Exclusive Opening Video From King's Quest Sequel: The Silver Lining

If PC point-and-click adventure series King’s Quest were a teen movie, The Silver Lining would be the slow handclaps near the end when the nerd finally gets the girl at the big prom. When the ‘90s drew to a close, the revered series was dashed off with an unintentional final chapter: The oddly combat-heavy King’s Quest: Mask Of Eternity became the de facto conclusion when creator Roberta Williams retired and developer Sierra Entertainment got gobbled up by Vivendi Entertainment (who were then gobbled up by Activision in that mega-merger).
Rather than just sign an online petition and call it a day, a group of devoted fans all over the world banded together to create and release a proper conclusion to the series -- and endured a series of very recently-settled lawsuits just so everyone could get closure on the royal family of Daventry.
Absence Makes The Heart Grow Yonder!
Adhering to the long-established series formula, the first chapter starts with a tragedy in the royal family, triggering another member to embark on a quest to seek justice. This time, King Graham’s children Rosella and Alexander faint mysteriously from a curse while at a party -- and not from drinking too much mead. By the end of the extremely short first free episode (the remaining eight chapters will be split up over the next four episodes), it’s revealed that Graham is basically on an enchanted fetch quest to make a magic potion that can only work under the right circumstances.

All of this should sound, well, pretty conservative to even the most fair-weather point-and-click fan. It’s tough to say whether The Silver Lining has been worth the wait based on this first chunk, because after an hour, it’s over. When the credits roll, you’ve only taken Graham from the castle onto a boat. That’s it. Although the world seems expansive and extremely promising, it isn’t: locked doors in the castle prevent you from exploring, lightning strikes will knock down trees and block paths, and storms will flare up to point the only way you can go while aboard your ship. Did we really wait a decade to be boxed in?
To Heir Is Human
The fans at Phoenix should be high-fived for their tenacity to give King’s Quest a proper sendoff, but, to put it delicately, they could’ve used a professional or two in their camp. The walking and lip-flapping animations are creepy. Some of the voice acting sounds like it was rendered from Sound Blaster-era text-to-speech software. Then there’s the huffy female narrator, whose minute-long lectures make a strong case for returning to the genre’s text-based era.

The Silver Lining Intro Movie »

And while the creators might be steeped in King’s Quest mythos, these guys are not master storytellers. The first episode’s script feels like it was drafted next to a misunderstood copy of "Writing The Screenplay" -- the narrator just tells you how all the characters feel about Rosella and Alexander’s curse, instead of showing it. In the midst of these shortcomings, tiny details like Sierra-point-like sound effects for picking up items remind players they’re in the hands of people who genuinely love the series.
Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
So far, The Silver Lining is more intriguing as a legal precedent than an adventure game. It’s defiantly old-school in its persnickety mouse-clicking controls and takes its sweet time setting up the remaining story. But as it is, navigating a single puzzle and a handful of screens will only whet players’ appetites for what’s to come -- not reward them for being among the majority that signed that petition and moved on with their lives.


The Verdict: The Silver Lining – Episode 1: What Is Decreed


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