King’s Heir: Rise to the Throne is a historical adventure, hidden object game developed by Cordelia Games and published by Artifex Mundi that released in May 2018. The story follows two knights that are pulled into a conspiracy for the crown upon the demise of the kingdom’s royal ruler.
I was initially drawn to this game because of the title. For some reason it reminded me quite a bit of A Song of Ice and Fire, and I also really liked the preview of the visuals available on the Steam store. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was for the game to be so wholly engaging and effortless to play that I felt a bit cheated by the time I finished it. The ending seemed to have sprouted out of the depths to slap me before I was ready for it to be done. For me, this is the mark of a great game.
The first trait that helps King’s Heir to become such a comforting escapist experience are the aesthetics and the visuals of the settings, the menus, and much more. The intricate details and the wonderfully crafted historical scenery make for some of the best graphics I have seen within the hidden object genre. There is no disjointed elements to the design of the foreground and the background. It’s all quite seamless and charmingly quaint. Even the dialogue boxes are pretty with an exhibition that reminded me quite a bit of Japanese visual novels. The attention to details on the menus and within the puzzles ties everything together and helps to cement the bygone period much more.
Another bit that impressed me was the voice acting. Typically, the voices can be rather monotonous or just painfully cheesy and fake, yet here they were filled with a decent amount of emotion and fit the roles that they were portraying. It almost sounded akin to a period television serial, which was rather neat. Good voice acting can do wonders for a game’s overall quality and usually within HOs they are taken for extreme granted (i.e.: not seriously). I’m so happy that wasn’t the case here.
The gameplay for King’s Heir is rather traditional of the genre. The player searches for clues that helps them advance the story via puzzles and hidden object scenarios. Usually the items in the hidden object sections are so outrageously random as to be absolutely hilarious. While there were still some kooky, strange loot tossed into the messes for the player to sort through, the vast majority of them were respectful and appropriate to the era. There weren’t cameras or other out-of-place technologically advanced goodies (believe me, I looked). They also weren’t animated in such a fashion as to be blatantly and uncomfortably separate from the background and surrounding knickknacks. This is cool because it adds a bit of a challenge to searching for the individual items while also maintaining an air of naturalness to the environment and atmosphere.
The puzzles are similar in that respect as well. They fit splendidly with the rest of the artistry and graphics, with various difficulty levels to keep it engaging without added frustrations of being too hard or convoluted. I also enjoyed the balance of puzzles to HO sections; neither one outshined the other. Lastly, a lot of the puzzles stem from similar foundations of others that are standard across the genre, but they had just enough alterations to them to help them feel fresh and different, far from boring or redundant.
Other morsels that helped this game to be a delightful experience include the music and the storytelling. The music consists mostly of stringed instruments such as the violin and the harp with a splash of the tambourine, and their composition is simple yet ambiently complementary to the 11th century setting. It’s not cheaply strung together either, which helped to satisfy that A Song of Ice and Fire vibe that originally drew me towards the game.
The story had some duplicitous aspects to it, but it never outgrows itself into a monstrously over complicated mess. At its heart it is a tale of usurpation and greed for power. The flow of beginning, middle, and end kept me thoroughly invested from the moment I started it unto the moment that I finished. In fact, I played the whole thing in a single sitting of approximately two and a half to three hours because I was having so much fun and wanted to see how everything would unfold before saying my goodbyes.
The bottom line for King’s Heir: Rise to the Throne is that it’s an excellent addition to the hidden object genre, one of the best I’ve played in a long time, actually. Fans of casual and comfortable gaming will most definitely find the title to be interesting and fun, more so if you like classic, simple stories about kings and the drama of their heirs. People who love this particular brand of game shall also get a great kick out of it.
Genre: Hidden Object, Casual, Adventure
Developer: Cordelia Games
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Release Date: May 2018
Platforms: PC (Steam)
Interface/Subtitles: English (full audio), French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese
Content Warnings: Death. Mild violence. Imprisonment.
Official Website: King’s Heir: Rise to the Throne