King's Quest: Mask of Eternity (also known as King's Quest 8: Mask of Eternity, or simply KQ8) is the eighth and so far last official game in the King's Quest series. It was a notable departure from the previous Adventure Game format, and while it included about the same number of puzzles (actually more than most of them, except for possibly VII) as previous two games (or at least starting with VI and VII (http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/Puzzle_statistics#King.27s_Quest_8)), but puzzles were overshadowed by more hack-and-slash Diablo-like RPG elements (which are included in the total 'puzzle' score for the game). It was also the franchise's first attempt at a 3D game. While it was moderately well-received in its time, the crash of the adventure game industry killed the series (along with several other Sierra IPs), there was an attempt to make a King's Quest 9 (in the early 2000s as a Zelda-like action game, but it didn't go very far). Roberta Williams, creator and chief designer of the King's Quest series, had been one of those who had come up with the idea to add action elements to the game (though in hindsight, some years later, she is not sure it was the right decision).This is the first game where you play as someone other than a member of the Daventry royal family, with the exception that Graham was technically not a member of the Royal family through most of the first game except the ending (but also not counting the 'wanderer' in Wizard and the Princess, or the Captain in King's Questions, or the plot twist of Gwydion turning out to be Alexander). You are Conner, a young tanner and lesser rustic knight (much like Graham in the original game), who has a date with destiny. A piece of a mystical artifact called the Mask of Eternity falls at Connor's feet; at the same time, the entire kingdom of Daventry is turned to stone. To save the country, Connor must find all the pieces of the broken Mask and restore them to the Realm of Sun, all while slicing his way through enemies.
If you shoot at the skeleton archers from a very large distance, they will never shoot back. It's not just that you're outside their range of fire—it will never occur to them to move closer so that they can shoot you. It is even more idiotic concerning the fact that they will shout at you, but won't shoot.
In the Underground Realm of the Gnomes, you can shoot the immobile rock demons from around a corner if you're very careful. If you stand just right, the stones they throw at you will crash against the wall.
Antiquated Linguistics: This was one of many, many jarring changes made to the series. For seven games everyone's talk was mostly plain and modern, and then out of nowhere it's pseudo-Shakespeare city, even though this is supposed to be happening a decade or two later. (See also Graham and Rosella in Hoyle Book of Games, Volume I)
Canon Discontinuity: The game has not shown up on any of the compilation CDs of the series and has only since been re-released on Good Old Games. Not entirely true when the game first came out in 1998, it was part of the "King's Quest MASK/Collection Bundle (1998)" (which included all eight games at a discounted price, http://web.archive.org/web/19981206023926/http://sierra.com/). Most of the compilations (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) were released before KQ 8 was released (two of them include previews of KQ 8). There was also a long period where the game was entirely incompatible with newer versions of Windows (it took the fan community to actually make a patch to work in Vista/7/8). The only compilation that came out after KQ 8 or the C Ollection Bundle, was the 2006 release (also found on Steam). This is not saying much as the 2006 compilation (the only other recent compilation to be released after KQ 8) was a buggy mess (and was missing the original King's Quest 1, and out of the box working version of KQ 6 for windows, and missing or corrupt files on many of the games, and a outdated version of Dosbox, outdated windows-only version of King's Quest 7 (incompatible with 64-bit windows versions)). GOG's bundles are the first compilation to include the fan created patch, allowing the game to be sold again.
Convection Schmonvection: One of the worlds has lava strewn all about the place willy nilly. The player character can stand within a few centimeters of the start of a lava pool or traverse platforms mere inches above it with nary a point of damage. Come into contact with the lava and he dramatically burns to death. Made even sillier by the game's technical limitations, with which Connor can take a running leap over a pool of lava, accidentally land in just the very edge of the pool, stumble forward a few steps completely unharmed as he does at the end of every running leap, and then dramatically burn to death.
Darker and Edgier: This game took the series in a direction that embarrassed Sierra's designers. Among them were Jane Jensen, who wrote: "Me and my poor befuddled brain, trying to fathom a Sierra where... the most recent King's Quest involves killing things? Whatever happened to saving the cute little bee queen? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?" Ironically, King's Quest 6 was described as being a dark, edgier, wordier version of King's Quest by David Trivette author of the The Official Book of King's Quest (Third Edition), and not feeling like previous King's Quest games, and this was attributed to Jane Jensen. "KQ 6 can be seen as a sharp departure from the previous quests, in large part because it was the first quest in which creator/designer Roberta Williams had a collaborator. There is a darkness to the scenes not found in earlier quests. Overall the sixth has an ominous tone." (The Official Book of King's Quest, 3rd Edition, pg 10) Triva Note: For added irony, in KQ 8, you do get to save the cute sprite/wisps of the Swamp, who are known for pollinating the flowers (like bees)!
Degraded Boss: The Henchmen become normal enemies in the Realm of the Sun, the last area of the game.
Dem Bones: The skeleton guards in the Dimension of Death.
Dragon Rider: There's a Crystal Dragon you can ride if you find the Crystal Sceptre that controls it.
Dutch Angle: In one cutscene in the Dimension of Death, before Lord Azriel's Sanctum.
Ear Trumpet: The hero has to find one to hear some whisps whispering in a swamp.
Everybody Hates Hades: Lord Azriel averts this Trope. He's quite helpful once the hero is able to prove himself worthy of his assistance.
Flowery Elizabethan English: Suddenly, and previously rarely used in the series, with no reason given. Technically, Alexander uses a touch of it in KQ6 (seen most often in his "oaths/explicitives"), although it was far less stressed. There was a bit of it in KQ3 from Rosella as well (she calls her mother "Mum"). See also certain characters in KQ1, especially the remake. Compare to Graham and Rosella in Sierra's Hoyle I: Book of Card Games.
Free Sample Plot Coupon: The entire reason why Connor is the hero is because he picked up a piece of the Mask (one out of five) before the spell that turned everyone else to stone could hit. Everyone acts as though he's the destined hero, but if that's true then Destiny must've aimed that mask piece directly at him. This is confirmed by a Prophet and a prophecy later in the game.
Grimy Water: There's instant death water in the Dimension of Death, along with harmful pools of blood in the same Dimension, plus toxic water from the Swamp (some of which is covering a small pond in Daventry).
In Name Only: This game, at first glance it seems whose only connection to the previous installments is being ostensibly set in the same location, and a couple of cameos. Although technically every game in the series is set in a different realm (no game in the official series is set in the same location), unconnected storyline (stand alone), usually only with only a few cameos from previous games, and with limited use of Daventry to connect them. KQ 8 ties into details only alluded to in previous materials (I.E. manuals, guides and novels) such as the Town of Daventry and Daventry's church. KQ 8 has several ideas that are thematically based on previous KQ tropes (unicorns, ugly witches, gnomes, ice queens, Lord of the Dead, bad dwarves, crystal dragons, treacherous swamps, volcanic regions, snowy mountains, killer trees, dragons, underworld, etc). Many of these tropes reappear in different games used in very different ways (trolls for example are all treated very differently throughout the series in each game they appear, the same can be said for the ogres, as well as the dwarves, and Rumplestiltskin doesn't seem to remember Graham in KQ 5). Even Connor is thematically similar to Sir Graham of KQ 1 as a rustic knight of Daventry who was destined to save the king and kingdom (his starting costume is the same as King Graham's minus the adventure's hat). Additionally the enemies though killable in KQ 8, are a Shout-Out to the random baddies (wolves, ogres, witches, sorcerer, dwarves, etc) seen in KQ 1-KQ 2 (and lesser extent KQ 3 and KQ 4) though not killable were solely there to get in the way of the adventurer. However, there is still a Shout-Out in Silver Lining, with more to be expected. (If the player tries to have King Graham grab something he can't reach, the narrator says, "Tis Beyond his REACH!" in a way similar to Connor in Mask of Eternity).
Lethal Lava Land: The Barren Region. You WILL get tired of hearing Connor scream when he falls into the lava.
Loads and Loads of Loading: Possibly the worst loading times ever seen, with loads upwards of twenty minutes for each level. It takes forever to load each area, with multiple loading screens each time you load up the game. Mask of Eternity, in order to conserve hard disk space, only kept the current region files on the hard drive. When you first started a region, it copied that region's files from the CD to the game folder and when you left for a new area, it uninstalled the previous region files and installed the upcoming area's files. There's only 9 regions in the game, two of them extremely small, and the other 7 quite large. That means switching levels was kinda like doing a semi-uninstall/install each time, deleting like 100 MB from your hard drive and then copying another 100 MB from the CD back onto it (real fun with a 2x CD-Rom drive). There was no official way to do a full install of the game either.
Magic Mirror: The mirror shows King Graham what transpires in the Realm of the Sun and later allows Connor his first glimpse of his enemy Lucreto.
Minus World: There are many interesting experiences and fights to be had if you manage to traverse beyond the boundaries of the map and can get beyond the walls of the Dimension of Death. You can go all sorts of otherwise inaccessible places in many other worlds too using cheats to teleport.
Mutually Exclusive Powerups: The game has a limit of one short-range weapon (dagger/axe/sword) and one long-range weapon (bow/crossbow). When you pick up the new weapon you drop the old one. Leave and come back, and the old weapon is still there, in an aversion of Everything Fades. However, there isn't really any functional difference between the different short- and long-range weapons except for their strength - except the warhammer, which takes an annoyingly long time to swing. However many hand weapons do offer different enemy death animations (fire sword causes enemies to burst into flame for example, and ice weapons will freeze an enemy, and shatter). Also several weapons are needed for puzzle solutions (other weapons will not work). In third person there is also additional special moves for the hand weapons that does extra damage.
Non-Combat EXP: You gain experience for solving puzzles, apart from killing enemies.
Nostalgia Level: Castle Daventry. It's less colorful than last time around, though. Graham makes an appearance, and both Graham and Valanice are shown in classic paintings from the sixth game.
No, You: Connor's standard reply to death threats is "Not I, YOU!" He does not excel at combat banter.
Oddball in the Series: Like the seventh game, it ditched the interactive narrative formula, and also went went for action/adventure instead. Like other entries on this list, some prefer to think it never happened.
Pressure Plate: You're meant to hold them down with rocks, but you can avoid this if you manage to kill a monster so that it falls on the plate.
Ring Out: One fight can only be won by knocking your opponent off of the tower you're fighting on.
Ring Out Boss: The only way to defeat the skeleton with the chainmail in the Dimension of Death is to knock him back until he falls off of the tower you're fighting on.
Stopped Numbering Sequels: One supposes they thought it was getting ridiculous. Subverted a bit in that the official website and forums numbered it King's Quest VIII or King's Quest 8, and Word of God called it King's Quest VIII/8 in many interviews. Finally it was repackaged as King's Quest VIII in the GOG digital release.
Swamps Are Evil: Although the swamp simply known as "The Swamp" was supposedly a rather nice place before the Swamp Witch took over, and had a couple of huts and benevolent beings. Unfortunately, a great cataclysm takes place in the opening scene, turning human beings to stone and causing the Swamp Witch to take over, bringing a host of nasty monsters with her.
Taken for Granite: In the beginning, everyone in Daventry (well, there is a half-petrified wizard) are turned to stone by the Big Bad. It's only dumb luck that our hero managed to grab a piece of the titular MacGuffin to protect himself.
The Underworld: The Dimension of Death. Implied to be a temporary holding place for souls.
Unicorn: There's an interesting portrayal of a unicorn, in which Connor comes across an ugly creature at a pond. It turns out that it's a unicorn, only it has lost its beauty and power along with the removal of its horn.
When Trees Attack: The Mandragor Trees, monsters found in the swamp that turn to regular trees upon beating them. They're immobile, but if you come too close, they'll attack you with their roots. And they can't be hurt by ranged weapons, which they will laugh off; the laughter is horrific.
Wise Tree: The talking tree in the swamp, who dispenses advice at the cost of a gold coin. Connor lampshades this by asking why a tree would need money.