by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
The Return of Gabriel Knight
Back in the early 1990’s I read reviews of the first Gabriel Knight game with interest, but as I was still an Amiga gamer at the time, there was no way for me to actually play the game. What set it apart from other contemporary point-and-click adventures was the dark story of apparently voodoo-related homicides in New Orleans. For Sierra, the risk of deviating from the more humorous lines of games of the time was worth taking: two more Gabriel Knight games followed soon after. The series creator, Jane Jensen, also released two novels based on the games.
Those who missed the series during their first run will be delighted by their new coming: Jane Jensen’s new company, Pinkerton Road, in partnership with Phoenix Online Studios, is updating the first game in the series for modern audiences with slightly tweaked story and greatly updated graphics and sounds.
Gabriel’s best asset: his hair
The preview release of the game opens with Gabriel Knight having a bad dream and waking up in a bookstore that he owns in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The first few moments of clicking around in the store quickly introduce you to the tone of the game and Gabriel Knight as a character: somewhat vain, since one of the first items Gabriel takes with him is a jar of hair gel. After all, you never know when you need a little touch up. We also meet his assistant, Grace, and learn that Gabriel is working on a novel on voodoo and that he’s got a friend in the NOPD who is investigating a series of voodoo-related murders. After leaving the bookstore, Gabriel visits various locales in the French Quarter as his investigation unfolds, including the famous graveyard, a police department, a voodoo museum and a shop.
The preview copy only presents the first two days of the game, which doesn’t take you very far into the story, but it soon becomes apparent that the voodoo aspect of the murders may have been faked, although I began to suspect that the fakery itself might have been faked. And, somehow, Gabriel’s bad dreams might be connected to the story as well... But it all remains to be seen until I get the full game into my hands.
Gameplay and atmosphere
The gameplay of the remake is very good. Important objects are relatively easy to spot, but even if you miss some, there’s a handy star at the upper left corner of your screen that puts labels on all the clickable objects on the screen. Additionally, Gabriel’s journal offers more general plot-related hints if you get stuck. When you click on an object or a person, you are shown a context menu that allows you to look at the object, pick it up, use it, or apply one of the items in your inventory to it. In case of people and mirrors, you can also attempt to talk with them (Gabriel gets along very well with mirrors).
For the most part, the voice acting is very nice, but I disliked the narrator’s voice and tone – the actress seemed to miss the beat of many of the jokes that she was delivering, especially in the scenes early on when you study Gabriel Knight’s bookstore. The music is superb and the bands playing at the park especially took me back to the time we visited New Orleans.
The character animations are pretty stiff overall and when you take an author/cop photo of Gabriel and his friend, you may end up with rather a gruesome photo of Gabriel’s arm puncturing through his friend’s throat. But these sorts of minor glitches don’t distract you from the overall game in an adventure title like this.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is shaping up to become an excellent point-and-click adventure and will certainly take you back to the era of Monkey Islands, Indiana Joneses and Leisuresuit Larrys – as well as Gabriel Knights. The remake will be a must-buy for any fan of the originals and I’m sure it will also attract many of those who did not have a chance to play the originals.