After five months of waiting for the next story in The Odd Gentlemen’s gloriously lavish retelling of King’s Quest, it’s hard not to find its second episode “Rubble Without a Cause” a tiny bit disappointing. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still as charming as it’s ever been, the writing is sublime, the art-style is still magnificent and its orchestral soundtrack is wonderful. I enjoyed very nearly every minute of it.
Rubble Without a Cause’s problem is it feels like filler, with little to justify the months’ long wait. Its narrative is still framed, once again inviting those Princess Bride comparisons, with the aged King of Daventry relating his past adventures to his perhaps overeager granddaughter. When we left off with the first episode, something ill had befallen the king, giving us the idea that perhaps this next episode would continue from that very moment. It doesn’t though; instead the King is alive and well, just injured and confined to his bed, the perfect place from which to tell another story.
This time, his related adventure begins quite some time after the one we were treated to in the first episode. There’s a bit of a narrative disconnect here, with Graham already appointed as King, finding out that it’s more about making pointless decisions and battling with bureaucracy than the adventuring he did more of in his youth. It’s starting to look like the choices you make in this series don’t quite have the impact to wholly delineate the story as they do in Telltale’s adventures, instead only changing up a few details. Each episode is, I suppose, a standalone adventure.
While there’s nothing wrong with that at all, it does feel like the decisions that you make have less lasting gravitas, but we’ll have to see how the rest of the games progress before really judging that. While there may be no real weight to your decisions between games, there are certainly some heavy choices you’ll have to make within this episode. There’s a bit of a tonal shift. Where the first episode was marked by quirky irreverence, there’s a feeling of despair.
Stepping away from the red tape and officialdom of being a King, our still young Graham is kidnapped by a group of rock goblins, and stashed away in their underground lair. To his dismay, he finds that many of his friends from the first episode are trapped here too; and much of your time, in between solving all of the puzzles necessary to expedite your escape, will be in keeping them fed and healthy; ignore any of them for too long and they’re carted off, removed from the game.
It’s a mechanic that actually had me distraught, as I saw friends being carried away, presumed dead. It left me scrambling back to the menu to find a way to load up my save from earlier – maybe I could do things differently, maybe if I wasn’t so selfish, maybe if I was a bit sharper, and had figured out the sometimes convoluted and perplexing puzzles earlier. It almost borders on micromanagement, and juggling the sparse food you have available is a tricky and daunting task. Top tip though – make a copy of your completed Chapter 1 save before even starting this one.
While the writing, music, voice work and that wonderful art are on par with the first episode, the length here isn’t. It took me around six hours to finish A Knight to Remember, but only round 2 and a half to see the end credits on this second episode. It’s still great, and bests just about any other adventure game you’re likely to play this year, but it still feels like filler. That may largely have to do with the fact that The Odd Gentlemen knocked it out of the park the first time around, leading to some rather lofty, perhaps exalted expectations. There’s a bit of exposition towards the end, another bit of a cliff-hanger though (as these games are wont to do), something that explains the goblins’ motivations that has me aching for the next chapter. I just hope the wait won’t be as long.
Last Updated: December 17, 2015