King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!

Posted by Eivind Hagerup.
First posted on 29 May 1998. Last updated on 23 May 2010.
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King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
Graham enters the town in his kingdom.
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
Enter at your own risk!
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
Graham must rescue his family from the evil Mordack.
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
The talking owl Cedric accompanies Graham on his quest.
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
Look at who is coming on shore!

After King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, Roberta Williams needs to rethink the basics for the next sequel in King's Quest series. The market is changing to where most people does not want to take the time to learn to type, spell, or figure out how to talk to a computer via an adventure game. She has to design an icon interface with that future in mind; something that is about as easy to use as it is going to get. She also worries that gamers may find an icon based adventure game to be too easy. King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! marks a pivotal turning point in Sierra On-Line's gaming philosophy which has forever changed the face of adventure game design.

You are King Graham, the father of Prince Alexander and Princess Rosella and the husband of Queen Valanice. During a beautiful day when Graham is taking a stroll in the woods, the birds suddenly stop singing and the air grows cold. An unexpected storm approaches. When Graham moves towards the gentle rise overlooking his home, he is horrified to see an empty space where the royal castle of Daventry has stood just minutes before. Cold fear grips his heart. Luckily, a talking owl named Cedric has seen what has happened. It tells Graham that the evil wizard Mordack has released a magical storm that has taken away his castle. At once, Graham seeks help from the good wizard Crispin and starts his journey to find Mordack to save Daventry.

Although the story in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! may not seem impressive at first, it gets better once you find out why Mordack plots his evil scheme against the royal family of Daventry. This title is Sierra On-Line's first icon based adventure game. It is also the company's first adventure game to feature 256-color close-up shots of game characters during a conversation exchange. The music is MIDI based and is written by Mark Seibert, Ken Allen, Rob Atesalp, and Chris Braymen. Although the quality of the speech in this game is sometimes poor and the voice acting is not always the best, these shortcomings are never really irritating. In contrast, the music in this game is excellent. There are many beautiful melodies, including the one that is to be the foundation of the theme song "Girl In The Tower" from the sequel. You can install this game in Windows. To get the best performance, you should play the game in 640x480 in 256 colors. Neither the Windows nor DOS installation is difficult. I have not encountered any trouble in it playing on either system.

It cannot be overemphasized the numerous groundbreaking technologies this game has bestowed in adventure game design. This is the first adventure game to feature Sierra On-Line's SCI interpreter version 1. It differs significantly from SCI version 0 by the debut of a point and click interface, VGA graphics capable of 320x200 in 256 colors, and digitized sound effects. The point and click interface utilizes a toolbar at the top of the screen to allow selection of 4 functions (walk, look, action, talk) along with the inventory and general game options.

The game is released in both Floppy Disk and CD-ROM versions. It is also the first adventure game to be released on CD-ROM in Multimedia PC format, the first to have digitized voiceovers, the first to use digitized hand painted backgrounds, and the first title to cost over 1 million US dollar to produce. Still, these advancements pale in comparison to the debut of the icon based interface and the abandonment of the text parser that has previously been a fundamental part of any adventure game. This dramatic change in game design allows more emphasis to be placed on puzzle design and avoids the dreaded pitfall of inadequate vocabulary that plaques all text parsers. Although some gamers have criticized that the icon based interface cheapens the difficulty of the puzzles, this interface has proven to prevail over time. It is used in many other games from Sierra On-Line, including those from the Police Quest series, the Quest for Glory series, the Laura Bow series, the Gabriel Knight series, and the Leisure Suit Larry series.

An inventory is available in which you can put your belongings. Akin to previous titles in the series, there are a few dead-ends; so save your game often. It is probably a good idea to save often anyway, since you can also die unexpectedly in many places. Optional text subtitling is available, but you cannot have subtitling and voiceover on at the same time. Incidentally, there is also an Easter Egg hidden in this game—after Graham slides down the snowy slope and breaks the sled, save your game; toss Graham's cloak on the sled, and see the fun!

I like this game. I like it a lot. It has the ability to grab you into the game and does not let you go. The gameplay is very entertaining, and hours pass fast with this game. In fact, I consider this title to be the best game in the entire King's Quest series so far. This is not just the opinion of this single writer, but I know many critics also agree that this is one of the best adventure games ever.

King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! is a game that is far ahead of its competitors for its time. I cannot think of any other adventure game from early 1990s that has a multimedia CD-ROM version. The game has great graphics and great sound. The music is fantastic. The interface is nice. The game is great fun to play despite some long dead-ends. Overall, King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! is a an excellent game that any real adventure gamer should try. The spectacular music, gorgeous graphics, and wonderful gameplay make this game a joy to experience!

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