Author Topic: Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.  (Read 3841 times)

Sir Perceval of Daventry

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Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.
« on: May 03, 2011, 10:21:21 PM »
Let's look back a little on the game.
Yes, it was DIFFERENT from KQ5-6, but it was really unique in it's own way. It was this really exciting, experimental blend of the Adventure, RPG, Action and Shooter genres, and I think the only thing which "killed" it was closed minds. I don't see why a KQ game can't include action? Really, in many ways, the story of KQ8 was simple, yet epic; It harkened back in some ways gameplay wise to KQ1/KQ3; It had a really unique mix of mythologies, Medieval epic storylines, Folkore, Occult and Fairytales. In many ways, Connor was quite the traditional KQ hero in his nature; he helps others along the way, he saves the land. He's just not a Royal--But so what? KQ8 took in a very epic, Tolkien, Medieval, Robert E. Howard-ish direction, and I'll probably be the only one to feel this way, but I think the series should've continued on in this direction.

People call KQ6 an "epic", but I think KQ8 is the real epic of the series. It doesn't need an overdone theme song or melodramatic subplots or dark conspiracies to glide it's plot through like KQ6 does. It's like KQ5--An epic journey with a simple, not convoluted story. Then again, I'm someone who thinks KQ5 is the best KQ game, with KQ7 and KQ8 coming in second and third and KQ1 SCI after that.

But let's revisit Mask. Your opinions on it then, your opinions on it now some 13 years later; the storyline, the approach, the long, four year wait for it; the numerous changes it underwent before our eyes in magazines and the like. Let's look at it now, with hindsight.

Even for those who have issues with Mask, there has to be some things it got right. And for those who like it, feel free t to elaborate why if you so choose.

Offline darthkiwi

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Re: Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2011, 03:49:29 AM »
I actually did enjoy MoE when I first played it. I've always played adventure games, and I've always played action games, so whenever an adventure game with action elements (or even one based around action) comes along, I think it can actually *improve* the adventure.

I particularly like the Daventry section of MoE. It's a truly brilliant opening: you're wandering through the homes of people you knew, using the things they owned to better equip yourself for the journey ahead. The idea of finding a wizard who kind of half-saved himself from turning to stone is just fantastic, and feels even more important since he's the only character still able to do anything. And as you explore Daventry, there's a clear narrative, not so much in the plot but in the items you acquire: fists are replaced by dagger then axe, peasant clothing is replaced by boots then leather armour, you acquire a map and, later, a rope and hook. The whole section just feels so well put together, so bleak but also so hopeful since you're threatened on all sides but are able to overcome the forces that threaten you.

Once you enter the Dimension of Death, however, it all gets rather less inspiring. This is not a vision of Hell or any underworld I know of: this is a vision of a slightly annoying labyrinth which has no discernible reason for being here. Azriel is much less impressive in this incarnation than he was in KQ6, too. There are still things of interest - the trials stand out in my memory - but I recently replayed the game and just lost momentum here.

I think that, without as engaging a setting as Daventry, MoE's flaws become more evident, and the game finds it much more difficult to support itself only on its mechanics and without much setting. While the combat is workable and gives you the impression of being both under threat and powerful, it's not *great* combat and is not much fun in and of itself. The puzzles are not quite as flexible as normal adventure game puzzles but are generally good, I think, but I think that if there's too much combat in between puzzles then the puzzles start to feel superfluos rather than part of the story.

Also, the story wasn't as rich as the story of KQ4 or 6, in my opinion. I love the idea of the main villain being basically Lucifer, but this was never really developed, which was a shame. The writing style - "Why sorrow'st thou, good maiden?" - is something I personally liked about the game (or at least didn't find grating, as some people might have done), but it doesn't really fit with the KQ style in general.

I think this is MoE's biggest problem, really: being connected with an established series from which it deviates. MoE is definitely the least KQ-like KQ game, and is lacking what made the KQ games so enjoyable - therefore, it's probably the weakest. But if it were its own game, a new IP rather than part of a series, I think it would have a cult following who hail it, as you've done, as a diamond in the rough which takes bold strides and blends genres. And, hell, it *could* have been! Just change the words "Daventry" and "Graham" and the portraits in the castle and - bam! - it's no longer a KQ game, but a brilliant (if very flawed) step towards a new kind of adventure game.
Prince of the Aquitaine. Duke of York.

Knight errant and consort to Her Grace the Empress Deloria of the Holy Roman Empire, Queene of all Albion and Princess Palatine.

Offline Baggins

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Re: Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2011, 11:55:34 AM »
Quote
Once you enter the Dimension of Death, however, it all gets rather less inspiring. This is not a vision of Hell or any underworld I know of: this is a vision of a slightly annoying labyrinth which has no discernible reason for being here. Azriel is much less impressive in this incarnation than he was in KQ6, too. There are still things of interest - the trials stand out in my memory - but I recently replayed the game and just lost momentum here.

You know its rather obvious Azriel and Samhain are two different characters from different myth sets. Very different personalities and backstories.

The DoD itself is actually quite a bit based on Mesopotamian/Babylonian/Sumerian concepts of the underworld. Loosely similar to the labyrinthian hell in Hellraiser without the cenobites.

I'd actually argue that KQ6's HR geigeresque fleshy bio underworld is like nothing out of most mythologies.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2011, 11:59:13 AM by Baggins »
Well, ya, King's Quest is on Earth. Daventry is very old city from a long time ago. It's in ruins now and people aren't quite sure exactly where it used to be. There are some archaeologists searching through the ruins, they think they know its Daventry. But its somewhere on Earth."-Roberta Williams http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/File:Daventryisearth.ogg

Offline darthkiwi

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Re: Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011, 05:19:45 PM »
True, but why have two different underworlds in the same game world? Especially when the KQ6 underworld was so breathtaking?

When I saw the Lord of the Dead in KQ6, it was utterly stunning. He's made of stone! His legs are bone! He's chained to the chair! His head turns into the sky like giant wings!

And then the MoE Lord of the Dead was... an Anubis figure sitting in a chair. It just... wasn't very inspiring, especially after seeing what the underworld could have looked like. Technology was almost certainly a factor in how impressive they could make him look, but it was still somewhat anticlimactic.
Prince of the Aquitaine. Duke of York.

Knight errant and consort to Her Grace the Empress Deloria of the Holy Roman Empire, Queene of all Albion and Princess Palatine.

Offline Baggins

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Re: Mask of Eternity...nearly 13 years later.
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 12:27:35 PM »
From Roberta's perspective she didn't really have an idea of a single imagined universe. Not to the level that fans have tried to make the series.

There were a number of recycled ideas like Rumplestiltskin being reused essentially twice, Graham encounters the character twice. Yet the KQ5 version doesn't really acknowledge him.

The Boatman, Charon gets recycled three times through the series!

Then look at things like the races; trolls, fairies, gnomes, ogres, and elves, etc got reimagined almost each game they appeared in! Culturally and physically different each time. No consistency.

She basically brought in legends as they fit the themes of her stories. She conceived of the stories as largely stand alone, no requirement to play previous games. Thus lands were not recycled, other than Daventry.

I don't know if you have played Quest for Glory, QfG3 also makes reference to Egyptian underworld ruled by Anubis (who you briefly contact in the game), and QFG5 visits a Greek based underworld ruled by Hades, but Hell is also mentioned as being a separate place (not part of Hades) by the narrative text strangely enough.

Back to KQ the guidebook even notes that myths of where dead go vary from place to place, and he was surprised by the a Green Isles version of the afterlife. MoE manual states that DOD is the afterlife of Daventry.

As for Azriel he is actually a bull god (note the bull horns), similar to the god of underworld in Mesopotamian mythology. You can see more images of the bull god on the buildings throughout DoD.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 01:01:29 PM by Baggins »
Well, ya, King's Quest is on Earth. Daventry is very old city from a long time ago. It's in ruins now and people aren't quite sure exactly where it used to be. There are some archaeologists searching through the ruins, they think they know its Daventry. But its somewhere on Earth."-Roberta Williams http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/File:Daventryisearth.ogg
 

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