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Video Game / King's Quest: Mask of Eternity

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Released in 1998, King's Quest: Mask of Eternity (also known as King's Quest VIII: Mask of Eternity, or simply KQ8) is the eighth and, until 2015, 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 the previous two games (or at least starting with VI and VII), the 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 ninth game: King’s Quest: Twins of Change (in the early 2000s as a Zelda-like action game, but it didn't go very far). Supposedly, Roberta Williams, creator and chief designer of the King's Quest series, was the one who had come up with the idea to add action elements (with input by Mark Seibert), largely due to the fact that there were long stretches of areas with nothing to do between puzzles, empty, barren, and uninhabited (or turned to stone). So adding monsters added something to see, and something to do in those areas.

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 Connor, 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 kingdom, Connor must find all the pieces of the broken Mask and restore them in the Realm of Sun, all while slicing his way through enemies.

This game provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: The game featured a lot of action elements, and definitely leaned towards the Action-Adventure subgenre. This design decision was loathed by half the fans.
  • A.I. Breaker:
    • 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 considering 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.
  • Animated Armor: The Henchmen.
  • 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.)
  • Artificial Stupidity: If you shoot at the skeleton archers from far enough away, they will never shoot back (although they will shout insults at you!).
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Whole packs of yetis will attack you in the Frozen Reaches. According to the manual, they're actually "snow demons".
  • Broken Angel: The cursed unicorn at the pool in Daventry.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The third level, called just "The swamp".
  • 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.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Mask of Eternity.
  • Darker and Edgier: While previous King's Quest games can get pretty dark, this game tops them all in some people's minds (although every single game has been targeted as 'dark' in some way, with even King's Quest 6 being called the 'darkest' game in the series at times), and Space Quest was created because the Two Guys from Andromeda thought the entire King's Quest series and most Sierra games were dark, dreary, and somber, and they wanted to do something 'silly'. It's especially jarring considering the last game was considered Lighter and Softer.
  • 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.
  • Dungeon Bypass: It is possible to take a shortcut through the Dimension of Death and avoid the hassle involving the bridge.
  • 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.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Lucreto.
  • 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 the Hoyle Official Book of Games series.
  • 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 recording of a long dead Prophet (from a long dead civilization from aeons before) and several prophecies 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).
  • Ideal Hero: Despite this entry having a darker tone and being the only King's Quest game with combat, Connor is nevertheless one of the kindest, most polite, and stalwart character in the series. While the situation sometimes leads him to taking from the homes he enters he always apologizes despite no one being around to even know he did it, he speaks respectfully to anything that does not aggress him, no matter how strange or monstrous it may look, and it's made clear that he's only taking up arms to begin with because the forces of darkness give him no choice. While it applies to everyone, the Antiquated Linguistics seem to invoke Good Old Ways to highlight Connor's heroism.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: "This will not work."
  • In Name Only: At first glance, it seems this game's only connection to the previous installments is being ostensibly set in the same location, and a couple of cameos.
  • Invisible Monster: One of these attacks you in the Frozen Reaches. It serves as a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere as well.
  • 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, by using cheats to teleport.
  • Mr. Exposition: The half-petrified wizard in Daventry.
  • Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups: 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 (the fire sword causes enemies to burst into flame, for example, and ice weapons will freeze an enemy, after which they shatter). Also, several weapons are needed for puzzle solutions (other weapons will not work). In third person, there are also additional special moves for the hand weapons that do extra damage.
  • Non-Combat EXP: You gain experience for solving puzzles as well as 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.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There are four kinds of demons: rock demons, pyro demons, snow demons, and shadow demons.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The boar-like goblins.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The shaggy, blue-skinned ice orcs in the Frozen Reaches.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The game has portals that only go between two specified points, and operate on switches.
  • 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: The game isn't listed on the box as King's Quest VIII. 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. In certain European releases it always had "King's Quest 8" on the packaging.
  • 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.
  • Teleporter's Visualization Clause: There are designated warp points in each area. Normally they only appear on your magic map once you've visited them, so you can only go to places you've already been. However, at one point a magical device is used to trick the map into adding a new warp point.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Thrown out the window, unusually for a King's Quest game.
  • 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.
  • Waist-Deep Ocean: As an early 3D game, having swimming animation would've added considerably to the development time, and as such all of the water is shallow enough for the player to walk through. That said, the player character is realistically slowed depending on how high the water goes up his body, and plant-filled swamp water slows him down even more.
  • 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 (or rather, nonsense pretending to be advice, but at least you get experience points) at the cost of a gold coin. Connor lampshades this by asking why a tree would need money.
  • World of Ham: Everybody speaks in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, even the peasants. Technically some characters speak in regular English but with an faux-British accent.