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The Silver Lining

by Phoenix Online Studios, 2010




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The graphics in this game are beautifully rendered 3D, with good textures, and lighting, and effects. The characters have a wide range of animations and facial expressions, and lines are lip synced. A couple of characters look off sometimes though.


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Every sound effect sounds great, and the game has a beautiful score that really enhances every scene, just how a good soundtrack should. Voice acting is studio recorded, although there is some unintentionally hilarious acting sometimes.


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The game uses a classic Sierra adventure game interface that employs symbols as commands for your character. You can run which makes going from place to place faster, as well as sail from island to island, making the world quite expansive overall. Walking sometimes sticks.

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King's Quest VIII sucks. It's a Castlevania game with the name King's Quest tacked on. So it's no wonder that fans have been disgruntled with 3D King's Quest games, or even the later sequels in general. Then Phoenix Online came along and decided to change all of that by creating a proper ninth sequel to the series entitled The Silver Lining. Their work looked promising and fan excitement was beginning to return. Then they were shut down. Fans were dismayed. Thankfully, the embargo was lifted and they were again able to continue making The Silver Lining. And they did, and it's here today. In 3D. And it's good. I can hardly believe it, but here it is. The Silver Lining.

Because of the huge amount of work a game of this magnitude takes for non-professional developers, The Silver Lining is released in episodes, like a television series. There are five episodes in all, and at the time that I'm writing this review, the first two are already out. These two episodes are the most critical for this game, because the first episode introduces the story, and the second episode expands it and introduces the gameplay. In a way, Episode One is more of a prologue, but it's a pretty good one. However, this is where detractors might find their first fault. The first episode of The Silver Lining has absolutely no gameplay. There's one "puzzle" but it's hardly worth calling a puzzle. This episode is entirely devoted to introducing the hero, his obstacles, and the story. Consider it a three hour playable intro. If that doesn't turn you off, you might find a rewarding experience from this game once you get into Episode Two and subsequent episodes.

In Episode One, the story begins in a typical fairytale fashion with a royal wedding between King Graham's daughter and a young fairy prince. However, a mysterious sorcerer in a black cloak crashes the party and puts King Graham's children under a dark spell, trapping them in the world of dreams. That's where the story starts. King Graham must journey once more, seeing sights and wonders unimaginable, and braving deadly dangers. And knowing the Kings Quest series, there are plenty of those to be had over the course of the season. As you progress you learn of everything from mysterious druids and ancient societies of magic, to chessboard kingdoms and more. Kings Quest is notorious as a slightly serious send-up of fairy tales in the adventure game genre, but this game is far from funny, leaning toward the serious side in the story more often than not. This game is dramatic from the very opening, and will definitely keep you guessing. The cinematography and pacing is not shoddily directed, and is greatly enhanced by a great voice cast and a fantastic score.

There is a negative side as well. The game's dialogue is studio recorded, so once in a while voice acting will have a hollow echo. The narrator, one of the most prominent characters in the game, is very unintentionally irritating and even insulting. Some of the dialogue can come across as hammy or unintentionally hilarious once in a while, but for the most part it shows a lot of heart, especially when Graham discusses the current tragedy with others. Everyone under the rule of Graham's son on the Isle of the Crown feels horrible for him and his family. Others on the other islands are more detached and care a lot less, especially those on the Isle of the Sacred, where the inhabitants can fly and turn their noses up at ground-bound humans. As you progress along the game, however, there is a definite sense of danger at every turn. The main villain has enormous power to strike at Graham when and whenever he wants, at the worst and most unexpected of times. It's clear Graham is up against someone who will eagerly destroy him. Someone of great evil who will stop at nothing to carry out his plan. There are strong forces at work and the game casts a lot of doubt as to whether or not Graham can save his family.

The game is rendered in 3D using the Torque engine, an engine not previously known to me. It has proved to be a powerful engine, allowing for a wide range of character animation and facial expressions, as well as lip synced dialogue. The expressiveness of the characters really helps to sell the story and emotions conveyed. The background has animation as well, although it's more sparse in that regard. I like to think that's because the developers wanted to give the illusion that the backgrounds were painted like previous King's Quest titles. The particle effects used for things like magic really remind me of the particle effects used in Playstation 2 games such as Kingdom Hearts. Shading effects in this game as well as weather effects are very basic, however, and as far as I could tell there are no depth of field effects at work, which could give the game an impression of being graphically outdated to some. To some retarded FPS fanboys, that is.

You can run to get from place to place, or walk if you chose, although it tends to be rather slow. The ability to run is a welcome addition. The interface the game uses to give your character commands is the classic Sierra interface used in all other King's Quest games. Anyone who has played a Sierra game or even an adventure game should be familiar with this interface, and if you aren't, you should be. The puzzles are challenging. But they aren't King's Quest challenging. Well, a couple of them are, but they all aren't. Not yet. I expect before the season ends to be able to be stuck without being able to continue, unlikely as there is a new try again feature when you die. I expect mazes, I expect to be able to die fifty times without warning, and I expect an almost impossible final puzzle.

And finally, I expect you to play this game all the way through. I expect you to play every episode, and I expect you to enjoy this game. Because you will; the story is interesting and the gameplay is classic. This isn't a fault-proof package, but no King's Quest game was ever a fault-proof package. No King's Quest game has perfect acting; to fans, remember Cedric the Owl? No King's Quest game has perfect puzzles, and every Kings Quest game has made me turn the game off multiple times in pure frustration. Yet I love these games; they're always challenging, and they deserve the attention of every gamer. Maybe I'm biased as a fan of the series. Maybe I should be judging this game more as a game and not as a King's Quest game. Well, I don't care. This is my review, and I give the game a full five carrots overall. Go play it lest your computer suddenly stand up and kill you randomly for not knowing a good game when you see one. You can restart, restore, or try again, but you can't quit until you've saved King Graham's family once and for all.

Review By: Secret Fawful